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Outlook for the special European Council meeting of 24-25 September 2020

Written by Ralf Drachenberg and Suzana Anghel,

© Adobe Stock

At the special European Council on 24-25 September 2020, EU Heads of State or Government are expected to dedicate much of their time to external relations issues, notably to a strategic discussion on Turkey and a debate on relations with China. Continuing illegal Turkish drilling activities in the eastern Mediterranean have made the former more urgent, while the latter is long overdue. The European Council is also likely to adopt extensive conclusions regarding the single market, industrial and digital policy, reiterating the key objective of achieving strategic autonomy, whilst maintaining an open economy. EU leaders are expected to call for development of EU autonomy in the space sector, a more integrated defence industrial base, and for the presentation of a ‘digital compass’ setting out the EU’s digital ambitions for 2030 in its move towards digital sovereignty. The European Council is also likely to seek development of new industrial alliances and the removal of remaining unjustified barriers, particularly in services. EU leaders will also take stock of the coronavirus situation and review the coordination of national and European measures.

1. Background to the special European Council meeting

The possibility that the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, would call a special meeting on 24-25 September 2020 was mooted in the press in early August. The objective was to discuss topics that, due to the coronavirus pandemic, EU leaders had been unable to discuss during the past six months, including digital policies, the single market, and relations with Turkey and China. The intention to discuss the situation in the eastern Mediterranean was formally confirmed by Charles Michel in his invitation letter to the European Council video-conference meeting of 19 August 2020 and confirmed by Heads of State or Government during that meeting. Other urgent issues requiring the European Council’s attention have occurred in the meantime and are also expected to be raised, notably the poisoning of the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Issues such as climate policy – originally scheduled for discussion but not addressed in recent months – are expected to feature on the agenda of the October European Council meeting.

2. Special European Council agenda items

Single market, industrial policy and digital transition

EU leaders will discuss the single market, industrial policy and digital topics, from the viewpoint of Europe’s strategic autonomy – a concept aimed at reducing European dependence on external actors, which President Michel calls ‘goal number one for our generation’.

Single market and industrial policy

One of the most urgent issues for the Heads of State or Government is to restore a fully functional single market, as it has been heavily impacted as a result of the border closures and lockdowns linked to coronavirus. President Michel stressed that it was essential to repair this ‘beating heart’ of the EU and to ensure that it can function properly. EU leaders will notably address the enforcement of single market rules and the removal of remaining unjustified barriers. ‘Getting back to normal’ may take some time however, and is unlikely until a safe and efficient vaccine against the coronavirus is found, which many experts predict might not happen before mid-2021.

The EU leaders are also expected to address EU industrial policy, which gained new impetus in spring 2020, with the Commission communication on ‘A New Industrial Strategy for Europe’. Taking the impact of the current crisis into account, the strategy aims at making Europe more resilient and autonomous. In this context, EU leaders may notably discuss efforts to step up ‘important projects of common European interest’ (IPCEI), to ensure a level playing field and develop new industrial alliances.

Furthermore, EU leaders may also reiterate their call for an updated competition policy framework taking the twin – green and digital – transitions into account, including possible rules governing digital platforms. They may also restate their commitment to World Trade Organization (WTO) reform, and call for progress on initiatives such as instruments to address the distortive impact of foreign subsidies in the single market.

Digital policy

The coronavirus crisis has highlighted the importance of digital sovereignty and digital transition in Europe, since an unprecedented digital leap with lasting effects took place during the pandemic. Thus, EU leaders are likely to discuss ways of achieving digital sovereignty and to endorse the June 2020 Council conclusions on the matter. They will put particular emphasis on issues such as artificial intelligence (AI), data, cloud services and 5G, which are crucial to shaping Europe’s digital future. Leaders may also request concrete steps are taken with the aim of ensuring the interoperability, security and privacy of European data, the implementation of the 5G cybersecurity toolbox, further development of the EU cloud infrastructure, and at providing a clear definition for high-risk AI. Furthermore, developing a joint secure public electronic identification (e-ID) for the EU, which was mentioned in the February communication on ‘Shaping Europe’s Digital Future‘, may also feature on the agenda.

External relations

EU-China relations

EU leaders will take stock of the multifaceted relationship with China, a country that is simultaneously a ‘cooperation partner’ (on climate change), ‘a negotiating partner’ (on trade), ‘a strategic competitor’ (on the economy) and a ‘systemic rival’ (with different values and political systems).

The EU-China Summit held on 22 June 2020, and the quadrilateral meeting on 14 September – attended by Charles Michel, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, as President-in-office of the Council of the EU, and by the President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping – provided occasions to discuss a wide range of issues of common interest, including climate change and trade. They also provided the opportunity to raise diverging views on certain topics. This is notably the case on human rights abuses and on the tense situation in Hong Kong following the adoption of a national security law, which ‘erodes freedoms‘ and contradicts Hong Kong’s Basic Law.

There has been slight progress between the two meetings, with the signing of the EU-China geographical indications agreement. President von der Leyen referred to a ‘frank and open, and constructive and intense quadrilogue’, ‘with tangible actions discussed’. As regards a possible comprehensive agreement on investment, President von der Leyen confirmed progress and agreement on three issues: ‘disciplines regarding the behaviour of state-owned enterprises’; ‘forced technology transfer’; and ‘transparency of subsidies’. The EU remains committed to signing a comprehensive agreement on investment with China by the end of 2020, should agreement be reached on two pending issues: ‘market access’ and ‘sustainable development’.

Besides trade, the other major topic of the quadrilateral meeting was cooperation on climate change. President Michel stressed that the EU encourages China ‘to be even more ambitious’ with respect to greenhouse gas emissions reduction and possibly to set similarly ambitious targets to those the EU has set for itself, namely to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Chancellor Merkel noted that ‘a high-level dialogue is to be put in place between China and the European Union that is systematic rather than ad hoc’. This would allow close coordination on climate change issues and acceleration of the implementation of the Paris Agreement. Furthermore, President von der Leyen confirmed that a physical meeting, similar to that initially planned to take place in Leipzig and postponed due to the pandemic, will be organised between the EU leaders and President Xi once the pandemic situation allows.

EU-Turkey relations

Since March 2018, the European Council has closely monitored and strongly condemned Turkey’s illegal drilling activities in the eastern Mediterranean, whilst expressing solidarity with both Cyprus and Greece. During the summer of 2020, tensions increased and a dangerous escalation in military activity occurred. Both President Michel and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, have called for de-escalation of the situation. Meanwhile, Turkey withdrew its seismic research vessel, Oruç Reis. This led High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell to speak of a ‘step in the right direction’ and to call for further dialogue.

Against this backdrop, the European Council will hold a debate on EU relations with Turkey. It is likely – unless further de-escalation takes place – that the debate will ultimately focus on crisis management aspects, rather than on the long-term EU strategic approach to Turkey.

Turkey is an EU candidate country with which accession negotiations have been ‘frozen’ since 2018. It remains a partner for the EU in a series of areas, including migration. For 21 EU Member States, Turkey is also an ally in NATO. However, in recent years, the country has shown increasingly assertive behaviour and a willingness to assert its power regionally. Drilling activity in the eastern Mediterranean is not the only contentious issue. Turkey’s unilateral military intervention in northern Syria in autumn 2019, and its violation of the United Nations (UN) arms embargo on Libya, have also contributed to the rapid deterioration of relations, bringing High Representative Borrell to qualify the current state of play as a ‘watershed moment’ in the history of bilateral relations. Furthermore, there is growing concern regarding the deterioration of the human rights situation in Turkey, on rule of law violations, as well as on the unilateral decision to modify the status of Hagia Sofia.

Two long-standing issues could, if addressed in parallel, contribute in time to a normalisation of the EU’s relations with Turkey. Firstly, there is a need to solve the existing maritime border disputes, the source of past and current escalation in the eastern Mediterranean. This would require that parties bring the matter to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, whilst accepting ab initio that the Court in its decision might not meet in full their initial claims. Secondly, there is a need to resolve the Cyprus issue. High Representative Borrell has expressed hope that talks could resume under UN auspices, and dialogue with Turkey be re-established.

The European Parliament has closely monitored the evolution of the situation in the eastern Mediterranean. Its Committee on Foreign Affairs has called for de-escalation, expressed support for Greece and Cyprus, condemned Turkey’s illegal drilling activities and supported the view that targeted sanctions should be established, if, by the time EU leaders meet, the situation in the eastern Mediterranean has not improved. Earlier in summer 2020, High Representative Borrell confirmed that the European Council could discuss ‘a list of further restrictive measures’ in case there is no progress in engaging in dialogue with Turkey. Cyprus is threatening to block additional sanctions against Belarus should no new sanctions be adopted on Turkey.

Other external relations issues

EU leaders could once again consider the situation in Belarus, where the Belarusian people calling for freedom are facing repression. The European Council could endorse new sanctions on Belarus should the Council adopt them prior to the European Council meeting. However, EU leaders might be called to consider sanctions on Belarus and Turkey together, should no agreement be reached in the Council prior to their meeting.

The poisoning of Alexei Navalny with a Russian nerve agent, Novichok, represents not only an attempt to silence an opponent but also a breach of international law, which forbids the use of chemical weapons. Following this assassination attempt, Germany has asked that sanctions be adopted against Russia. High Representative Borrell stressed that Russia’s action would have an impact on EU-Russia relations, and EU leaders are expected to discuss the matter.

Other items

Taking stock of the coronavirus pandemic

The agenda also states that the Heads of State or Government will take stock of the coronavirus pandemic. They are expected to discuss the coordination of national measures to deal with the virus and restrictions on intra-EU movement. On 4 September 2020, the Commission proposed a Council recommendation covering common criteria and thresholds in deciding whether to introduce restrictions to free movement; the mapping of common criteria using an agreed colour code; a common approach to the measures applied to persons moving to and from areas which are identified as higher risk; and commitments to provide the public with clear and timely information.

On 15 September, Parliament debated EU coordination of health assessments and risk classification as well as the consequences for Schengen and the single market in the context of coronavirus. Prior to the debate, 75 Members of the European Parliament published an open letter, in which they criticised ‘the chaos at the internal borders of the European Union,’ as well as the ‘unilateral decisions to control or restrict borders’. They also called for a ‘common [European] methodology for health data collection and the qualification of risk mapping with common colour codes’. In preparation for the special European Council meeting, European Affairs Ministers are expected to discuss again the coordination of national measures to deal with coronavirus on 22 September.

Migration

EU leaders have failed to find agreement on reform of the European asylum system for years, notably on the distribution of migrants beyond the Member State of arrival. While not originally planned for discussion at this special European Council meeting, pressure has been building on EU leaders to return to the migration issue following the fire that destroyed the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. In this context, President von der Leyen announced that the European Commission would present a new migration pact on 23 September, aimed at overhauling the EU asylum system. On 15 September, President Michel visited the Moria camp, and called for ‘progress to have more convergence in the framework of [the EU’s] asylum policy’, while acknowledging that the debate in the Member States will be difficult.


Read this briefing on ‘Outlook for the special European Council meeting of 24-25 September 2020‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2020/09/21/outlook-for-the-special-european-council-meeting-of-24-25-september-2020/

Plenary round-up – Brussels, September 2020

Written by Katarzyna Sochacka and Clare Ferguson,

EP Plenary session - State of the Union

© European Union 2020 – Source : EP / Laurie DIEFFEMBACQ

The September 2020 plenary session was the sixth conducted with Members participating remotely, using the alternative voting procedure put in place in March by Parliament’s Bureau, although a majority were again present in Brussels. As well as the Commission President’s traditional State of the Union address, Parliament held a joint debate on the risk of breach of the rule of law and LGBTI-free zones in Poland. Parliament also debated European Commission statements on the preparation of the special European Council focusing on Turkey’s actions in the eastern Mediterranean, on the consequences for the single market of EU coordination of sanitary measures in the ongoing pandemic, on combatting sexual abuse and exploitation of children, and on the need for a humanitarian EU response to the situation in the Moria refugee camp. Parliament also debated statements from the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borell, on the situation in Belarus, in Lebanon and the poisoning of Alexei Navalny. Parliament also voted on legislative proposals and resolutions, including on arms exports, the Union Civil Protection Mechanism, the EU Association Agreement with Georgia, protecting world forests, EU-African security cooperation in the Sahel, type approval of motor vehicles and the importance of urban and green infrastructure.

State of the Union

The highlight of this session was Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s State of the Union address – an important moment to take stock of the year’s achievements and present the priorities for the coming 12 months. While the coronavirus pandemic has put paid to the Commission’s ambition to move away from crisis-management mode, the political priorities outlined in the original six priorities for its mandate have been recalibrated to deliver on promises to tackle climate change, racism, health threats and migration, while also adjusting to the crisis scenario.

Opinion on the EU own resources system

Under the consultation procedure, Parliament adopted its legislative opinion on the EU own resources system proposal, allowing the Council to move ahead with its adoption on the basis of the July 2020 European Council conclusions and for the ratification process to begin in all 27 EU countries, so that the Recovery Plan can be implemented as soon as possible. Parliament’s Committee on Budgets (BUDG) has fast-tracked the procedure, treating it separately from the MFF proposals. It upheld its position that new own resource streams must be introduced (from carbon, emissions, plastics, and digital and financial services taxation) to finance at least the entire repayment costs of the recovery instrument, and also insists that they are introduced according to a legally binding calendar. The new own resources decision will empower the Commission to borrow on the markets, and also introduce a first new source of revenue for the EU budget from 1 January 2021: a uniform call rate by weight for non-recycled plastic packaging waste.

Amending Budget No 8/2020: Covering the financing needs of the Emergency Support Instrument and Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative Plus

Members approved Draft Amending Budget No 8/2020, which sets out €6.2 billion in funding to tackle the coronavirus crisis and speed up Covid‑19 vaccine deployment under the Emergency Support Instrument and the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative Plus.

Establishing the Just Transition Fund

Members approved, by a narrow majority, Parliament’s position for trilogue negotiations on the proposed establishment of an extension of €17.5 billion to the Just Transition Fund to help regions that rely on fossil fuel and high-emission industries to invest in clean energy technologies, emissions reduction, site regeneration and reskilling of workers. This decision is subject to conditions. Gas investments will have to be ‘sustainable’ under European taxonomy rules (with some derogations); must be used as a transition technology to replace coal, lignite, peat or bituminous shale; and must significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions without hindering the development of renewable energies in the territories concerned.

Reducing maritime transport CO2 emissions

Members adopted, by a large majority, an Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee (ENVI) report which sets out Parliament’s position for negotiations with the Council on the legislative proposal to reduce maritime transport CO2 emissions, aimed at reforming data gathering for monitoring purposes. The committee report proposes requiring shipping companies to reduce their annual average CO2 emissions by at least 40 % by 2030, with penalties for non-compliance.

Supporting a sustainable rail market in view of the coronavirus pandemic

Members approved proposals to support a sustainable rail market in view of the coronavirus pandemic allowing – temporarily and at least to the end of the year – measures to assist the rail sector face the effects of Covid‑19, including lower, waived or deferred track access charges. It also allows Member States to support rail infrastructure managers to cover any financial losses brought about by the new relief measures until the industry can get back to normal operations.

Opening of trilogue negotiations

Members confirmed two mandates for negotiations: from the Regional Development (REGI) Committee on exceptional additional resources and implementing arrangements under the 2014‑2020 European Regional Development Fund ‘Investment for growth and jobs goal’, to help foster crisis repair in the context of the Covid‑19 pandemic, and preparing a green, digital and resilient economic recovery (REACT‑EU); and from the Fisheries (PECH) Committee on the proposal for a regulation establishing a multiannual management plan for bluefin tuna in the eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean.


Read this ‘at a glance’ on ‘Plenary round-up – Brussels, September 2020‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2020/09/18/plenary-round-up-brussels-september-2020/

Brexit: Towards the end-game [What Think Tanks are thinking]

Written by Marcin Grajewski,

© shocky / Adobe Stock

There is now growing doubt about possible progress on the future relations between the European Union and the United Kingdom. The British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has tabled a bill on the internal market within the country, which contains provisions relating to the border between Northen Ireland and the rest of the UK that violate the agreement on Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, and would thus constitute a breach of international law. The European Parliament has already indicated that it would not be able to ratify any post-Brexit EU-UK trade agreement, if such arrengements were to be adopted.

This note offers links to recent commentaries, studies and reports from international think tanks on numerous challenges facing the UK, EU and their future ties after their divorce.

UK Internal Market Bill: Risks and challenges
UK in a Changing Europe, September 2020

UK threats to break international law make a Brexit deal even more difficult
Institute for Government, September 2020

The Internal Market Bill: Implications for devolution
UK in a Changing Europe, September 2020

Breaking international law is no way to protect peace in Northern Ireland
Institute for Government, September 2020

The irreparable damage Boris Johnson is wreaking on Britain
Carnegie Europe, September 2020

How the EU could counter Brexit nonsense told to the UK public
Friends of Europe, September 2020

Brexit: ‘Un accord de libre-échange éviterait le chaos aux frontières’
Centre for European Reform, September 2020

The UK government should be prepared to compromise on the UK internal market
Institute for Government, September 2020

Brexit: Endgame
European Policy Centre, September 2020

Beyond state aid: The future of subsidy control in the UK
Institute for Government, September 2020

What the UK-Japan trade deal signifies
Policy Exchange, September 2020

The Swiss approach to trade with the EU
UK in a Changing Europe, September 2020

Advice for Boris Johnson: Don’t take the EU on in lawfare
LSE, September 2020

The latest on Brexit
Council on Foreign Relations, September 2020

European Foreign Policy after Brexit
Carnegie Europe, September 2020

China and Brexit: What’s in it for us?
European Council on Foreign Relations, September 2020

Picking up the broken pieces of UK foreign policy
Chatham House, September 2020

Five reasons why even a basic EU-UK trade deal is better than nothing
Centre for European Reform, August 2020

Trade and regulation after Brexit
Institute for Government, August 2020

Preparing Brexit: The scale of the task left for UK business and government
Institute for Government, August 2020

Europe tests the waters for a stronger defence policy: EU leaders must agree on where threats to the continent originate
Centre for European Reform, August 2020

Beyond Brexit negotiations, the UK and the EU have decisions to make on their future relationship
Institute for Government, August 2020

The Brexit parenthesis: Three ways the pandemic is changing UK politics
European Council on Foreign Relations, August 2020

Brexit scenarios: Heading for a no-deal exit?
European Policy Centre, July 2020

Preparing Brexit: The scale of the task left for UK business and government
Institute for Government, July 2020

Boosting the resilience of Europe’s financial system in the coronavirus crisis
Bruegel, July 2020

Turkey and the UK: New best friends?
Centre for European Reform, July 2020

Towards an ambitious, broad, deep and flexible EU-UK partnership?
European Policy Centre, June 2020

Ceasefire: Managing divergence in post-Brexit Europe
European Policy Centre, June 2020

Don’t let UK-EU foreign policy co-operation be collateral damage of Brexit
Centre for European Reform, June 2020

EU-UK negotiations: No need to panic (yet)
Centre for European Reform, June 2020

The geographically asymmetric impact of Brexit
Egmont, June 2020

The Brexit time bomb
European Policy Centre, June 2020

The European Union’s post-Brexit reckoning with financial markets
Bruegel, May 2020

How will Covid-19 impact Brexit? The collision of two giant policy imperatives
Bruegel, May 2020

Latest thinking and research about Brexit from LSE
LSE Brexit blog, 2020


Read this briefing on ‘Brexit: Towards the end-game‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2020/09/18/brexit-towards-the-end-game-what-think-tanks-are-thinking/

EU–China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment: Levelling the playing field with China [International Agreements in Progress]

Written by Gisela Grieger,

© Alex_Po / Adobe Stock

Lack of reciprocity in access to the Chinese market and the absence of a level playing field for EU investors in China have posed major challenges for EU-China investment relations in recent years, with the negotiation of a comprehensive agreement on investment (CAI) being considered by the EU a key instrument to remedy this state of play.

The CAI negotiations are aimed at establishing a uniform legal framework for EU-China investment ties by replacing the 25 outdated bilateral investment treaties (BITs) China and EU Member States concluded prior to the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009 when the EU gained competence for most investment issues. The CAI is intended to go far beyond traditional investment protection to also cover market access, investment-related sustainable development, and level playing field issues, such as transparency of subsidies, and rules on state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and forced technology transfer.

Although leaders at the 2019 EU-China Summit jointly committed to concluding the CAI talks in 2020, lack of engagement at the highest political level on the Chinese side has raised doubts as to whether a breakthrough can be reached in time, with China more focused on navigating the uncertainties of its relations with the United States from January 2021.

Read the complete briefing on ‘EU–China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment: Levelling the playing field‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2020/09/14/eu-china-comprehensive-agreement-on-investment-levelling-the-playing-field-international-agreements-in-progresswith-china/

The State of the Union 2020 [What Think Tanks are thinking]

Written by Marcin Grajewski,

© artjazz / Adobe Stock

In what has now become a tradition, every year in September, the President of the European Commission delivers the State of the Union address before the 2020 European Parliament, taking stock of achievements over the past year and presenting priorities for the year ahead. Ursula von der Leyen will deliver her first State of the Union address on 16 September 2020, followed by a debate in the plenary. In essence, the Commission’s position is that the priorities that were set at the beginning of its current mandate remain valid in addressing today’s challenges, but with both major challenges and opportunities arising from the coronavirus pandemic .

After some initial criticism of ‘too little too late’, EU institutions are now working flat out to help. Notably, The European Council agreed on a major boost to fight the pandemic, including a measure of common debt. Both are actively addressing the European Green Deal, the digital agenda, making Europe stronger in the world, a new push for European democracy and making the economy work for people.

This note offers links to recent commentaries and reports from international think tanks on the state of the union and related issues.

EU law in the time of Covid-19
European Policy Centre, September 2020

E3 cooperation beyond Brexit: Challenging but necessary
Chatham House, September 2020

These are the EU’s ‘best of times, and worst of times’
Friends of Europe, September 2020

The European Green Deal: Saving the planet or protecting the markets?
Instituto Affari Internazionali, September 2020

The Sinatra Doctrine: How the EU should deal with the US–China competition
Instituto Affari Internazionali, September 2020

How Brussels sees the future of Europe after Covid-19
European Policy Centre, August 2020

Five reasons why even a basic EU-UK trade deal is better than nothing
Centre for European Reform, August 2020

EU communication: What are the biggest challenges and what can the institutions do to address them?
Friends of Europe, August 2020

Empowering the European Parliament: Toward more accountability on security and defense
Carnegie Europe, July 2020

ECB policy spurred economic reforms in euro area countries
Bertelsmann Stiftung, July 2020

Un accord historique à améliorer et à réaliser
Institut Jacques Delors, July 2020

Member States’ expectations towards the German Council Presidency
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, July 2020

Reading between the lines of Council agreement on the MFF and Next Generation EU
Centre for European Policy Studies, July 2020

Crisis decision-making: How Covid-19 has changed the working methods of the EU institutions
Centre for European Policy Studies, July 2020

Rethinking EU institutions’ rules of procedure after Covid-19
Egmont, July 2020

Having the cake, but slicing it differently: How is the grand EU recovery fund allocated?
Bruegel, July 2020

How to spend it: A proposal for a European Covid-19 recovery programme
Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, July 2020

Europe’s digital sovereignty: From rule-maker to superpower in the age of US-China rivalry
European Council on Foreign Relations, July 2020

How Europe’s populists lost EU game of thrones
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik, July 2020

How the EU managed its coronavirus comeback
Carnegie Europe, July 2020

Rethinking EU institutions’ rules of procedure after Covid-19
Egmont, July 2020

Raising Europe’s global role starts at home
Carnegie Europe, July 2020

Clearer role for business regulators needed in monitoring trade agreements
Chatham House, July 2020

An opportunity to improve the MFF permanently
European Policy Centre, June 2020

Un budget de relance ambitieux, mais de dures négociations à prévoir
Jacques Delors Centre, June 2020

How to spend it right: A more democratic governance for the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility
Hertie School – Jacques Delors Centre, Bertelsmann Stiftung, June 2020

Crisis notebook European recovery: How to convert the try? Something is happening in Europe
Jacques Delors Institute, June 2020

Europe after coronavirus: The EU and a new political economy
Chatham House, June 2020

The latest crisis of the European Union: The political, economic, and social consequences of the new coronavirus
Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade, June 2020

Together in trauma: Europeans and the world after Covid-19
European Council on Foreign Relations, June 2020

’Coronationalism’ vs a geopolitical Europe? EU external solidarity at the time of Covid-19
European Policy Institutes Network, CIDOB, June 2020

The EU’s external action on counter-terrorism: Development, structures and actions
Finnish Institute of International Affairs, June 2020

Geopolitical shifts and the post-Covid world: Europe and the multipolar system
Instutito Affari Internationali, June 2020

Restoring free movement in the Union
Fondation Robert Schuman, June 2020

A new policy toolkit is needed as countries exit Covid-19 lockdowns
Bruegel, 2020

Health sovereignty: How to build a resilient European response to pandemics
European Council on Foreign Relations, June 2020

Transatlantic opinion on global challenges before and after Covid-19
German Marshall Fund, June 2020

Next generation EU: An interpretative guide
LUISS School of European Political Economy, June 2020

Recovery instrument: An epochal change in political economy
LUISS School of European Political Economy, June 2020

The EU budget: A Hamilton moment?
LUISS School of European Political Economy, June 2020

Europe’s pandemic politics: How the virus has changed the public’s world view
European Council on Foreign Relations, June 2020

The multilateral order post-Covid: Expert voices
Institute of International European Affairs, June 2020

Three-quarters of Next Generation EU payments will have to wait until 2023
Bruegel, June 2020

Covid-19 strengthens the case for EU defence
Chatham House, June 2020

Three ways Covid-19 will cause economic divergence in Europe
Centre for European Reform, May 2020

Rebooting Europe: A framework for a post Covid-19 economic recovery
Bruegel, May 2020

European elections: A year in review
Europeaum, May 2020

The European Parliament: One year after the European elections
Österreichische gesellschaft für europapolitik, May 2020

Claiming back civic space: Towards approaches fit for the 2020s?
European Centre for Development Policy Management, May 2020

Making flexible Europe work? European governance and the potential of differentiated cooperation
GlobSec, May 2020

‘Responsive vs responsible? Party-democracy in times of crisis’
European University Institute, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, May 2020

Le mystère d’un geste
Institut Jacques Delors, May 2020

Differentiated EU integration: Maps and modes
Europe University Institute, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, April 2020

Localising Europe
Friends of Europe, March 2020

Représentation et participation: Réinventer la démocratie européenne

Institute Jacques Delors, March 2020

The future of democracy in Europe: Technology and the evolution of representation
Chatham House, March 2020

Five years with Juncker
Foundation for European Progressive Studies, March 2020

Futures(s) of Europe
Foundation for European Progressive Studies, March 2020

The propaganda virus: It is not the EU lacking solidarity, but the Member States
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik, March 2020

Juncker’s curse? Identity, interest, and public support for the integration of core state powers
Hertie School, Jacques Delors Centre, March 2020

Resisting de-globalisation: The case of Europe
Bruegel, February 2020

Rethinking global governance
Friends of Europe, February 2020


Read this briefing on ‘The State of the Union 2020‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2020/09/12/the-state-of-the-union-2020-what-think-tanks-are-thinking/

The State of the Union debate in the European Parliament, 2020

Written by Rafał Mańko,

© European Union 2020; Source: EP – Daina Le Lardic

The State of the Union address of 2020 will be delivered at a time when the coronavirus pandemic continues to create challenges for the European Union and its Member States. At the same time, the the next multiannual financial framework (MFF), the EU’s long-term budget, is yet to be agreed. Unresolved challenges also include ensuring respect for EU values (Article 2 TEU) in the Member States, addressing the threat of climate change, and ensuring Europe is fit for the digital age.

The tradition of EU State of the Union addresses, delivered by the President of the European Commission before the European Parliament, dates back to 2010. The address takes stock of the achievements of the past year and presents the priorities for the year ahead. The State of the Union speech constitutes an important instrument for the European Commission’s ex-ante accountability vis-à-vis Parliament. It is also aimed at rendering the definition of priorities at EU level more transparent, and at communicating those priorities to citizens. It resembles similar speeches in national democracies. The United States of America, for instance, has a long-standing tradition of presidential State of the Union addresses, in which the President speaks in the Capitol to a joint session of Congress, thus fulfilling his constitutional obligation.

By contrast to the US Constitution, the EU Treaties do not prescribe the State of the Union address, which was instigated with the 2010 Framework Agreement between Parliament and the Commission. Former Commission Presidents José Manuel Barroso (2010 to 2013, marked mainly by the economic and financial crisis) and President Jean‑Claude Juncker each gave four State of the Union speeches. In his 2015 address, Jean‑Claude Juncker presented new proposals on migration, external action, and economic and fiscal policy. In 2016, he announced new initiatives to invest in Europe’s young people, jobseekers and start-ups, to expand public access to wifi, and make fairer copyright laws. In 2017, he proposed a roadmap for a more united, stronger and more democratic union. In his final speech in 2018, he called for a more sovereign Europe that allows its nations to be global players, setting out proposals on migration, cybersecurity and foreign policy.


Read the complete briefing on ‘The State of the Union debate in the European Parliament, 2020‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2020/09/11/the-state-of-the-union-debate-in-the-european-parliament-2020/

European Parliament Plenary Session – September 2020

Written by Clare Ferguson,

European Parliament building Brussels

European Union, EP

While Parliament and its Members were hopeful that the plenary session would return to Strasbourg this month, the significantly higher Covid‑19 health risks for the local population as well as Members and staff mean that the 14-17 September 2020 session will take place in Brussels. The agenda, however, remains the same, with Members set to debate and vote on a number of files.

The highlight of the session will undoubtedly be on Wednesday morning, when Commission President Ursula von der Leyen attends plenary to deliver the annual State of the Union address before Parliament. This is an important moment to take stock of the year’s achievements and present priorities for the next 12 months. While the coronavirus pandemic has put paid to the Commission’s ambition to move away from a crisis-management mode, the political priorities outlined in the original six priorities for its mandate have been recalibrated to deliver on promises while also adjusting to the crisis scenario. One of those priorities – upholding fundamental rights and the rule of law – is the subject of a joint debate on Monday evening on Poland and the determination of a clear risk of a serious breach.

However bad the crisis, the EU budget must not exceed its revenues – known as own resources. The magnitude of the funding needed for the coronavirus recovery will therefore require new revenue streams, particularly if, as Parliament insists, common debt issued is repaid fairly, without burdening future generations. The European Council reached political agreement on the 2021‑2027 multiannual financial framework (MFF), next generation EU recovery fund (NGEU) and own resources in July 2020. Only consulted, Parliament has to adopt a legislative opinion on the EU own resources system agreement before Council can adopt that decision. Parliament’s Committee on Budgets (BUDG) has fast-tracked the procedure accordingly, treating it separately from the MFF proposals, and Members will vote on its opinion on Tuesday. The Committee insists that new own resource streams are introduced (from carbon, emissions, plastics, and digital and financial services taxation) to finance at least the entire repayment costs of the recovery instrument, and Parliament has requested a legally binding calendar for their introduction.

At the same time, notwithstanding any move to tax the carbon emissions that contribute significantly to climate change, EU efforts to reduce them continue. On Tuesday evening, Members are expected to vote on Parliament’s position for trilogue negotiations on the proposed establishment of a €17.5 billion Just Transition Fund to help regions that rely on fossil fuel and high-emission industries to invest in clean energy technologies, emissions reduction, site regeneration and reskilling of workers. On Monday, Members will consider an Environment, Public Health & Food Safety Committee (ENVI) report on reducing maritime transport CO2 emissions, where data gathering for monitoring is in need of reform. The committee report seeks to require shipping companies to reduce their annual average CO2 emissions by at least 40 % by 2030, with penalties for non-compliance. Again, the vote should establish the position for negotiations with the Council on the legislative proposal. Parliament will also vote on Monday on an ENVI own-initiative report on the EU’s role in protecting and restoring the world’s forests against deforestation caused by agriculture. Replacement of tropical forests worldwide with commercial crops such as palm oil, soy or beef continues at an alarming rate, threatening an irreplaceable resource crucial for fighting climate change, and EU action could reduce demand for such products.

The Council and Commission will make statements on Tuesday morning on the Covid‑19 situation, as regards EU coordination of health assessments and risk classification and the consequences on Schengen and the single market. Two files on the agenda pertain to the EU response to the coronavirus crisis, both tabled without report under the urgent procedure. On Monday evening, Members will consider Draft Amending Budget No 8/2020, which sets out the funding needed for the Emergency Support Instrument and the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative Plus to provide financing for deployment of a vaccine against the disease. It also covers reimbursement to Member States for actions to counter the public health crisis under the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative Plus (CRII+). The same evening, Members will also debate a proposal to support a sustainable rail market in view of the coronavirus pandemic. The proposal would allow, temporarily and at least to the end of the year, measures to assist the rail sector face the effects of Covid‑19, including lower, waived or deferred track access charges. It would also allow Member States to support rail infrastructure managers to cover any financial losses brought about by the new relief measures until the industry can get back to normal operations.

On Tuesday morning, Council and the Commission will make statements on the preparation of the Special European Council, scheduled for 24-25 September 2020, which will focus on the dangerous escalation and the role of Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean. Alarmingly, since the discovery of offshore natural gas reserves in the region, Turkey continues to challenge its neighbours on the delimitation of their exclusive economic zones. Turkey’s illegal drilling and military interventions, including military force, intimidation and violations of the territorial waters and airspace of its neighbours has destabilised the whole region. A joint debate and statements by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) will follow. The VP/HR will also make statements on the worrying developments in Belarus, where the democratic environment has deteriorated sharply since the elections in August. Statements are also expected on the situation in Lebanon, and in Russia, following the poisoning of Alexei Navalny. Parliament is expected to vote resolutions on these issues later in the day.

On Thursday, as is customary, the focus is on human rights issues. Before that, however, on Tuesday, Members will discuss a report on EU-African security cooperation in the Sahel region; a particular focus of EU efforts to build peace in a region destabilised by conflict in Mali, which has spilled over into neighbouring countries. The EU’s commitment to stabilisation in the Sahel is part of an overall focus on promoting peace and security in a deteriorating geopolitical environment worldwide.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2020/09/11/european-parliament-plenary-session-june-2020-2/

The von der Leyen Commission’s six priorities: State of play in autumn 2020

Written by Etienne Bassot,

© European Union 2020 – Source : EP / Benoit BOURGEOIS

In her statements to the European Parliament in July and November 2019, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen outlined the political priorities that would shape the Commission’s work programme for the years 2019 to 2024. The 2020 Commission work programme, adopted before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in Europe, mirrored these priorities. Without changing the overall structure of the six priorities, the spread of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and its significant impact across Member States obliged the Commission, however, to focus on immediate crisis management. As a result, at the end of May, the Commission adjusted its work programme for 2020, prioritising initiatives that it considered to be essential or necessary for the EU’s post-crisis recovery, in line with the Recovery Plan for Europe. The State of the Union debate provides the opportunity to take stock of the progress made thus far and to look ahead.

Delivering on promises while adjusting to a crisis scenario

Recalibrating political priorities

The von der Leyen Commission took office on 1 December 2019, a month later than expected and after a long investiture process, beginning in May 2019 with the European Parliament elections. The new Commission’s priorities were sketched out in von der Leyen’s political guidelines, presented prior to her election as President of the Commission in July 2019, and further developed in the Commission’s 2020 work programme (CWP 2020), adopted on 29 January 2020. Building on the European Parliament’s political priorities and the European Council’s new Strategic Agenda for the 2019-2024 period, the Commission sought to shift from the crisis management mode that had dominated the Juncker Commission’s activities in the previous term (i.e. the eurozone crisis, the migration crisis and Brexit) to focus on the long term. The new priorities aimed at leading the transition to ‘a fair, climate-neutral, digital Europe‘, building on six ‘headline ambitions’ or priorities: i) A European Green Deal; ii) A Europe fit for the digital age; iii) An economy that works for people; iv) ‘A stronger Europe in the world; v) Promoting our European way of life; and, vi) A new push for European democracy.

The Commission has delivered on some of its commitments for its first year in office. However, as the coronavirus spread among Member States and the public health crisis unfolded, the Commission focused on coordinating a common European response to the pandemic, through a wide range of actions aimed at supporting the Member States’ health systems and countering the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic. As a result of the adoption of all those non-planned measures, the CWP 2020 was adjusted on 27 May 2020. Presented on the same day as the Commission’s Recovery Plan for Europe, the adjustments to the CWP 2020 introduced changes affecting the scope and timing of some of the initiatives included in the original work programme. The adjusted work programme prioritises all the initiatives that, according to the Commission, are essential or support the immediate recovery of Europe, such as the strategy for smart sector integration (Priority 1), the renovation wave strategy (Priority 1), the strategy for sustainable and smart mobility (Priority 1), the digital services act (Priority 2), the reinforcement of the youth guarantee (Priority 3) and the white paper on an instrument on foreign subsidies (Priority 2). In relation to some other relevant initiatives, such as the new pact on migration and the updated skills agenda for Europe (both Priority 5), the Commission expressed its commitment to adopting them as swiftly as possible, whereas some other initiatives have been delayed until the end of the year or early 2021. In any case, timelines may again be changed to reflect the Commission’s 2021 work programme, expected to be adopted in October this year.

Adjusting EU finances

The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has had significant consequences for EU finances too. Both the 2020 EU budget and the proposals for the next long-term budgetary plan, covering the 2021-2027 period (the multiannual financial framework − MFF) have had to be adjusted to the new circumstances and priorities. Already in the first weeks of the pandemic, as part of the immediate EU response to the crisis, the Commission proposed to reallocate part of the 2020 budget to support the policies most in need, such as healthcare systems, research into treatments and a vaccine, and protection of jobs and businesses. To finance these actions within the very limited resources of the 2020 budget, the Commission had to resort to the budgetary margins and flexibility instruments, while also proposing amendments to the provisions of the 2014-2020 MFF.

The pandemic has further complicated the lengthy negotiations on the 2021-2027 MFF. On 27 May 2020, together with its adjusted CWP 2020 and its Recovery Plan for Europe, the Commission presented a budgetary package for recovery and resilience. The Commission’s proposal linked the future 2021-2027 MFF with the €750 billion recovery instrument (‘Next Generation EU’). The latter would be financed through funds borrowed on the markets by the Commission on behalf of the EU, the first time such a method had been used on such a big scale. Political agreement on the proposals was reached by EU leaders at a special European Council meeting on 17-21 July 2020, opening the way for formal negotiations between the Council and the European Parliament, whose consent is required for the adoption of the MFF.

Adjusting the Commission’s structure and working methods

The pandemic has also had an impact on the von der Leyen Commission’s original structure and working methods. As all Commission staff in ‘non-critical functions’ moved to teleworking (as of 16 March) and all meetings of Commission decision-making groups, including the weekly meetings of the College of Commissioners (as of 18 March), switched to being held by video-conference or tele-conference, efforts were stepped up to facilitate the exchange of information, increase coordination and speed-up the decision-making process. The Commission introduced fast-track procedures to accelerate coordination at administrative level and the College privileged written procedure (as opposed to oral procedure) to expedite the adoption of decisions. Coordination was ensured by different means, including the creation of thematic clusters (global vaccine, macroeconomic aspects of the crisis, recovery phase), in which the members of the Commission took part on the basis of their areas of responsibility, and the creation of a coronavirus response group. Initially composed of five Commissioners (Janez Lenarčič, Stella Kyriakides, Ylva Johansson, Adina Vălean and Paolo Gentiloni) and headed by the Commission President, the group aimed to coordinate the EU’s efforts to handle the crisis, although its creation was seen by some commentators as a move towards further centralisation and presidentialisation of the Commission.

Finally, it is to be noted that the recent resignation of the Trade Commissioner (Phil Hogan) may also lead to changes in the Commission’s structure or working methods. On 26 August 2020, Hogan tendered his resignation to President von der Leyen after controversy over his attendance at an event with more than 80 people, despite the applicable Irish public health guidelines to contain the coronavirus pandemic restricting gatherings to a fraction of that number. Although von der Leyen did not formally request Hogan’s resignation under Article 17(6) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), she accepted it the following day, opening the way to the appointment of a new Irish Commissioner through the procedure provided for under Article 246 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). As requested by von der Leyen – who has been committed to ensuring parity within the Commission since the beginning of her mandate – the Irish government proposed both a female and a male candidate, the First Vice-President of the European Parliament, Mairead McGuinness, and a recent European Investment Bank Vice-President, Andrew McDowell. On 8 September, von der Leyen announced that she had chosen Mairead McGuinness, and that she would take over financial services, financial stability and the capital markets union from Valdis Dombrovskis. The latter would take the trade portfolio permanently (having already taken it in the meantime), while continuing in his role of Executive Vice-President. The Council has to appoint the new Commissioner, by common accord with the Commission President, after consulting the European Parliament. Parliament is expected to organise hearings of both McGuinness (on her qualifications to be a member of the College and for her portfolio) and Dombrovskis (as regards his new portfolio), as set out under Rule 125(9) of Parliament’s Rules of Procedure concerning candidates proposed to replace individual Commissioners or in the event of a substantial reshuffling of Commission portfolios.


Read the complete briefing on ‘The von der Leyen Commission’s six priorities: State of play in autumn 2020‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2020/09/11/the-von-der-leyen-commissions-six-priorities-state-of-play-in-autumn-2020/

What if fashion were good for the planet? [Science and Technology podcast]

Written by Lieve Van Woensel with Sara Suna Lipp,

© Master1305 / Adobe Stock

Fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world, coming just after oil. Clothing manufacture and consumption have a huge negative impact on both the environment and people. Sustainability is not only about the environment, but is also an economic and social indicator, and the clothing industry is a good example illustrating their interconnections. Are technological innovations alone enough to ‘tailor’ a green and fair future for fashion?

The fashion industry is an important sector in Europe, constantly making and selling new clothes, shoes and accessories. Rapid changes in trends, continuous availability of new products and a huge drop in prices have created ‘fast fashion’ and a throwaway consumer culture. In its current state, the fashion industry (here, mainly focusing on clothes) has massive environmental and social costs in Europe and other parts of the world, which are incompatible with the Commission’s European Green Deal and circular economy objectives.

From the production of raw materials, manufacturing, transport and distribution, to consumer behaviour and care, the clothing lifecycle has a high environmental footprint, with massive usage of natural resources, water and land pollution, and high carbon emissions. Firstly, the fashion industry consumes 1.5 trillion litres of water annually. It causes 20 % of global clean water pollution, due to dyeing and treatment of fabrics with toxic chemicals, and pesticide usage to grow raw materials. Plastics, commonly utilised in synthetic fibres, end up in the oceans, contaminating the food chain as micro-plastics. Furthermore, 87 % of clothes end up as waste in landfill or are incinerated, whilst 30 % of garments are over-produced and disposed of without being worn even once. The fashion industry also accounts for 10 % of annual global carbon emissions and is a major player in deforestation and soil degradation.

Another challenge is societal, including tackling unethical working conditions and hazardous processes. Western fashion companies mostly outsource production to developing counties, not only to circumvent strict environmental regulations, but also to take advantage of cheap labour. Low salaries, long working hours and lack of safe working conditions are common.

Potential impacts and developments

While 11 % of Europeans and 25 % of the world population is affected by water scarcity, making a single cotton shirt requires 2 700 litres of fresh water. This amount equals a person’s drinking needs for 2.5 years. Could seawater replace fresh water in clothing manufacture? Research shows this is possible for certain steps in processing. A new fabric technology is also being developed that uses saltwater-grown plants. One-fifth of cotton’s global water footprint is related to pollution. Wastewater is often directly discarded into waterways, where it mixes with fresh water sources. While conventional wastewater treatments are energy-intensive, innovative technologies can allow more environmentally friendly separation of water and toxins. As water is key to sustainable development, more research on water filtering technologies for recycling and reusing is necessary.

To mitigate the environmental impact of manufacturing, industrial applications of biotechnology already offer innovative solutions for more sustainable materials and production processes. Genetically modified bacteria produce spider silk, which is strong, elastic and waterproof, while bio-leathers are produced by yeast making collagen, the major component of skin, or bacterial cellulose. Fungi are engineered to grow novel fibres, and to decontaminate textile waste. Pigments produced by algae replace toxic chemical dyes, and enzymes replace chemical treatment steps, reducing water consumption and providing non-toxic alternatives. Gene-editing techniques are advantageous for generating new plant varieties for raw materials. While food is an emotive topic, there might be fewer concerns over gene editing of non-food crops. New plant variants that are more resilient to climate change, such as droughts or floods are being generated. Manipulation of lifecycle characteristics could allow for cultivation outside of the normal seasonal range, and disease resistant plants could decrease the use of chemical pesticides. Such increased production efficiency can cut resource usage and minimise waste.

Products of fast fashion usually have a short lifetime. This is reflected in European consumer behaviour, where people purchased 40 % more clothing in 2012 compared to 1996, but wore it for a duration half as long. Better quality and sustainable material is part of the solution, but this is inseparable from consumer awareness. What if consumers were involved in the design process? Artificial intelligence applications have been exploited to predict trends and match supply with demand. Algorithms that can calculate all body measures and fabric types design custom-fit clothes. Furthermore, blockchain can help with supply chain transparency. These developments could reduce over-production, waste, and the online buy/return cycle. However, they do not eliminate the challenges of workforce ethics and excessive consumption. What if production was not outsourced? While people in developing countries depend on the industry for their living and these jobs help to bring poverty rates down, labour conditions should be fair. Would people be willing to pay more for higher quality, robust, adaptable and modifiable clothing? Surveys show people would pay more for sustainability. Legislative efforts to increase consumer awareness are undeniably part of a move towards a more planet-friendly fashion industry.

Anticipatory policy-making

EU legislation regulates textile production, labelling and marketing. The EU Textile Regulation sets labelling requirements for fibre composition; REACH provides protection regarding chemicals in production; and the Emissions Trading System controls emissions allowances. Furthermore, the updated waste management rules package imposes separated collection of textiles by 2025. A 2019 European Commission working document identifies textiles (i.e. clothing) as a ‘priority product category for the circular economy’. While current EU regulations focus on consumer health, safety and waste management aspects, equivalent standards and transparency for textile imports are still lacking. Policy-makers will need to pay particular attention to achieving the relevant Sustainable Development Goals, as well as compatibility with the Green Deal and circular economy goals.

Both the EU Ecolabel and Green Public Procurement are voluntary instruments encouraging sustainability, however, there is no minimum standard for textile sustainability and circularity in Europe. To promote the discovery of new materials and processes, such as biotechnology applications, research and development need more support. Rules for design and durability criteria could also improve clothing longevity and support slow, sustainable fashion. Instead of voluntary schemes, regulation on energy efficiency and resource management could address environmental issues. To tackle the water footprint in textile production, the industry can improve sustainable water use, and rules, taxation and financial sanctions could enforce them to do so. The use of certain chemicals in manufacturing could be banned and alternative methods used, to protect workers’ health, the environment and consumers. Furthermore, France is currently the only country with an extended producer responsibility (EPR) policy for clothing – a strategy to hold the producer accountable for waste management – contributing to recycling and reuse. Such EPR principles could be harmonised at European level. Policies can also support circular business models for safe and clean material cycles as well as sustainable production.

The fashion industry raises many ethical issues, but fair working conditions outside the EU, human rights and gender equality are key. Several measures have been proposed, including through European Parliament resolutions. After the Rana Plaza disaster, over 200 mostly European companies joined the Bangladesh Accord. However, a lot more still needs to be done to improve textile workers’ conditions. The EU supports internationally recognised guidelines from the OECD and ILO, but there is no legislation to ensure a socially sustainable supply chain. Furthermore, fair trade, an arrangement for international standards of ethical production, labour and environmental policies, should be endorsed on a wider scale. Lastly, consumer behaviour can significantly influence the fashion industry, and policies that encourage conscious consumer choices can ensure sustainability in the long-term.


Read the complete briefing on ‘What if fashion were good for the planet?‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Listen to policy podcast ‘What if fashion were good for the planet?’ on YouTube.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2020/09/11/what-if-fashion-were-good-for-the-planet-science-and-technology-podcast/

Mapping threats to peace and democracy worldwide: Normandy Index 2020

Written by Elena Lazarou,

© peshkov / Fotolia

The ‘Normandy Index’, now in its second year, aims to measure the level of threats to peace, security and democracy around the world. It was presented for the first time on the occasion of the Normandy Peace Forum in June 2019, as a result of a partnership between the European Parliament and the Region of Normandy. The Index has been designed and prepared by the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS), in conjunction with and on the basis of data provided by the Institute for Economics and Peace. This paper sets out the findings of the 2020 exercise and explains how the Index can be used to compare peace – defined on the basis of a given country’s performance against a range of predetermined threats – across countries and regions. It is complemented by 40 individual country case studies, derived from the Index.

The paper forms part of the EPRS contribution to the Normandy World Peace Forum 2020. It is accompanied by two studies, one on the EU’s contribution to peace and security in 2020, the other on EU support for peace in the Sahel.


Read this study on ‘Mapping threats to peace and democracy worldwide: Normandy Index 2020‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.


Normandy Index, 2020

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2020/09/10/mapping-threats-to-peace-and-democracy-worldwide-normandy-index-2020/