Архив на категория: News

Understanding EU environment policy: State-of-play and future challenges

Understanding EU environment policy: State-of-play and future challenges

Understanding EU environment policy: State-of-play and future challenges

Written by Vivienne Halleux and Ekaterina Karamfilova,

EPRS Director-General Anthony Teasdale introduced an EPRS Briefing Seminar on ‘Understanding EU environment policy: state-of-play and future challenges’ on Wednesday, 13 November 2019, as the second in a new series of events organised by EPRS, aiming to inform Members and their staff on EU policies and the institutions involved. The panel discussion, moderated by Sarah Blau, Head of Secretariat of the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Food Safety and Public Health, featured speakers from the European Environment Agency, the European Commission and EPRS.

Ronan Uhel, Head of the Natural Capital and Ecosystems Programme of the European Environment Agency, explained the links between environmental issues and the evolution of EU environmental legislation. While it all started with the aim of tackling heavy environmental pollution and maintaining environmental media (e.g. air, water) in good shape, EU legislation has now become an instrument to address the degradation of our environment. In his view, the cause of this shift is that for the last 40-50 years, we have developed societies at the expense of their connection to their natural essence.

Silvia Bartolini, Head of the Inter-Institutional Relations Unit of DG Environment of the European Commission, presented the European Green Deal to which Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen committed in her political guidelines. Bartolini focused on the environmental pillar of the Green Deal, as well as on the financial aspects of the expected profound future transitions in the European economy and societies. In particular, in the coming years, the Commission will build its environmental policy on three flagship initiatives: biodiversity, a new circular economy action plan and a zero-pollution ambition for Europe.

Vivienne Halleux, Policy Analyst with the Economic Policies Unit of the EPRS Members’ Research Service, outlined the EU environment policy framework and presented an overview of Parliament’s work on the main legislative files in the last term, such as those linked to the circular economy action plan. She also highlighted some of the topics on Parliament’s agenda for the current term, such as biodiversity, water and air quality.

Ekaterina Karamfilova, a Policy Analyst with the Ex-post Evaluation Unit of EPRS, informed the public about the state-of-play of implementation of EU environment policy at national level. Referring to the findings of an EPRS study on the mid-term review of the ongoing 7th Environment Action Programme, she identified biodiversity, waste management, air pollution and noise as the most problematic areas. She also highlighted a few issues for the EP to watch during the new term and stressed on the importance of Member States’ capacities to implement environmental policies.

The fact that environmental concerns are not sufficiently integrated (mainstreamed) in other policy areas (for example, agriculture, transport, industry, etc.), and that breaking down these silos is needed, emerged as a shared issue of concern for the four panellists.

The next event in the series of EPRS Briefing Seminars will be held on Wednesday, 4 December, on Understanding EU policy on international crime and terrorism. As announced by Anthony Teasdale, a briefing seminar on EU climate policy is scheduled for February 2020.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/11/19/understanding-eu-environment-policy-state-of-play-and-future-challenges/

EPRS Annual Lecture 2019 – Clash of cultures: Transnational governance in post-war Europe

EPRS Annual Lecture 2019 - Clash of Cultures: Transnational governance in post-war Europe

EPRS Annual Lecture 2019 – Clash of Cultures: Transnational governance in post-war Europe

Written by Joanna Apap with Linus Siöland,

Focusing on transnational governance in the period since the end of World War II, this year’s EPRS annual lecture 2019 was delivered by Professor Wolfram Kaiser, Professor of European Studies at the University of Portsmouth, United Kingdom, who is this year’s non-Resident Visiting EPRS Fellow.

Director General of EPRS, Anthony Teasdale, launching the event, noted that it is the most recent in a series (that began with a lecture delivered by Professor Desmond Dinan), providing an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the history of the dynamics of the European Parliament. In addition, the lecture allows EPRS Fellows to present their research.

Wolfram Kaiser’s introduction then portrayed the peculiar mix of European governance traditions and practices that have evolved since the mid-twentieth century. These are: ‘technocratic internationalism’, the notion of governance by transnational experts in the interests of all; (ii) ‘neo-corporatist or consociational cooperation’ geared towards achieving broad consensus on policy-making, reflecting the EU’s heterogeneous character and government and societal actors’ national preferences; and (iii) the vision of the EU as ‘a supranational parliamentary democracy’, which puts ‘parliamentarisation’ of the EU centre stage.

Professor Wolfram Kaiser

Professor Wolfram Kaiser

Kaiser began by highlighting Jean Monnet’s technocratic internationalist idea of the ‘supranational character of cooperation’. Influenced by his work in the League of Nations and his wartime experiences, Monnet appreciated considering issues in their entirety, rather than in the frame of national interest or short-term gain, preferring to depoliticise issues and work towards a common interest. These views strongly influenced the early Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), providing an early basis for expert-driven decision-making. Kaiser continued by illustrating that neo-corporatist cooperation originated in the coal and steel cartels of post-war Europe, with proponents arguing that such working patterns could avoid ‘wasteful competition’. While Monnet was critical of cartels and did not include them in the ECSC, the practice of cooperative cartels nevertheless became embedded in the European economy, only declining with the increased prominence of liberal and free-market norms in the 1970s. Finally, Kaiser explained that the constitutionalisation of European integration followed warnings by French President Charles De Gaulle, among others, against the emergence of an ‘overbearing technocratic bureaucracy’, which lacked wider legitimacy. Kaiser then explained how the drive for a European parliamentary democracy that followed was shaped in large part by the emergence of European political groups, the European People’s Party and the Socialists and Democrats in particular.

For Kaiser, the historical development of European transnational government has produced four main challenges: by focusing on its output, rather than its legitimacy, the Commission has become an ‘easy target’ for criticism; consensus-driven policy-making has led to a perception of a lack of transparency that amplifies the populist rhetoric of ‘us versus them’; a number of Member States sought to blame the EU for a lack of solutions for inherently national issues at European level; the democratic deficit has persisted, despite Federalists’ hope that a stronger European Parliament would attenuate the issue. For Kaiser, the three governance traditions on which his research has focused have created tension and undermined each other, providing an opportunity for Europopulist attack.

Opening the ensuing discussion, Dr Heather Grabbe, Director of the Open Society European Policy Institute, highlighted the importance of taking a historical perspective of the EU. Only by studying these developments, can one properly understand the practices of transnational governance. Whilst Grabbe highlighted how adaptable the EU has proven to be, she also highlighted that, in new areas of policy action such as combating climate change, it is important that the EU takes care to avoid blame for individual states’ policy failures. However, it is exactly on policies such as climate change action, that the EU can make a bigger impact than national policy, looking to benefit future generations of Europeans.

Professor Brigid Laffan, Director of the European University Institute’s Robert Schuman Centre, then argued that today’s ‘joint decision trap’ has become more of a ‘politics trap’, with domestic politics increasingly influencing the work of the EU. Parliamentarisation may have increased politicisation, but the EU machinery has not yet adapted to this new landscape. In particular, she noted the continued and even increased relevance of European party families, with the growing influence of party group allegiance demonstrated in the recent Spitzenkandidaten process. However, Laffan noted, there is no democracy without politics. The period of intense treaty change that concluded with the adoption of the Lisbon treaty resulted in a much stronger EU, and today’s intensive transgovernmentalism. Pointing to the EU’s resilience in the face of financial and migration crises, Laffan also cautions against exaggerating the risk of the EU’s demise. In conclusion, Laffan argued that Euroscepticism should not be equated with nationalism in all cases, and that nationalism is not the same as populism. A liberal form of nationalism can be both pro-European and cosmopolitan. The EU has weathered the crises of the last decade and has emerged as a much stronger organisation. Ending on a positive note, Laffan feels that the EU can indeed adapt to the challenges it faces.

A recording of the EPRS Annual Lecture 2019 can be found here.


Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/11/18/eprs-annual-lecture-2019-clash-of-cultures-transnational-governance-in-post-war-europe/

Rule of law [What Think Tanks are thinking]

Written by Marcin Grajewski,

© Respiro / Shutterstock.com

The European Union is a community of law, with the rule of law being a basic value since the Union’s inception. The President-elect of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has confirmed a strong commitment to uphold the rule of law, which remains a shared responsibility for all EU institutions and all Member States. However, developments in several EU Member States – for example Czechia, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Malta – have raised concerns over how far this commitment is actualy being observed in practice, sparking a lively debate across the EU and action in the EU institutions themselves.

This note offers links to recent commentaries, studies and reports from major international think tanks on the rule of law debate.


Why can’t the EU’s West and East work as one?
Carnegie Europe, November 2019

So why don’t we just call the whole rule of law thing off, then?
Verfassungsblog, October 2019

Europeans face the risk of democratic regression: What can be done?
Jacques Delors Institute, September 2019

Charting a new path for V4–France cooperation
EUROPEUM, September 2019

Luxemburg as the last resort
Verfassungsblog, September 2019

Russian information warfare in Central and Eastern Europe: Strategies, impact, and counter-measures
German Marshall Fund, June 2019

Rules enforcement in the EU: Conditionality to the rescue?
Jacques Delors Institute Berlin, May 2019

Rule of law infringement procedures: A proposal to extend the EU’s rule of law toolbox
Centre for European Policy Studies, May 2019

EU policy on strengthening resilience in Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia between the rule of law and oligarchic influence
European Policy Institutes Network, May 2019

Ten years after EULEX: Key principles for future EU flagship initiatives on the rule of law
Centre for European Policy Studies, May 2019

Rule of law in the EU beyond political divisions: Budgetary sanctions and a new programme for citizens
Stefan Batory Foundation, April 2019

Est-Ouest: Réalité et relativité d’un clivage
Notre Europe, March 2019

Systemic rivalry and balancing interests: Chinese investment meets EU law on the Belt and Road
Centre for European Policy Studies, March 2019

Can the V4’s priorities shape ‘Europe’s priorities’? The Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027
Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade, February 2019

Safeguarding democracy in the European Union: A study on a European responsibility
Heinrich Böll Stiftung, December 2018

Was 2018 der Demokratie in der EU gebracht hat: Und worauf es jetzt ankommt
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, November 18

Nationalistic populism and its reception in Central Europe
Österreichische Gesellschaft für Europapolitik, October 2018

The Polish law on the Supreme Court in light of rulings of the Court of Justice of the EU
Stefan Batory Foundation, June 2018

Divisions in Europe expose the need for an ambitious reform of the EU
ÖGfE, June 2018

From pro-European alliance to eurosceptic protest group? The case of the Visegrad Group
Swedish Institute for European Policy Studies, May 2018

How can Europe repair breaches of the rule of law?
Notre Europe, April 2018

First victims or last guardians? The consequences of rule of law backsliding for NGOs: Case studies of Hungary and Poland
Centre for European Policy Studies, April 2018

The consensus fights back: European first principles against the rule of law crisis
Verfassungsblog, April 2018

Beneath the surface of illiberalism: The recurring temptation of ‘national democracy’ in Poland and Hungary, with lessons for Europe
Wise Europa, Heinrich Böll Stiftung, February 2017

Five steps the EU must take to protect civil society
Open Society Foundation, January 2018

Illiberal democracies in the EU: The Visegrad group and the risk of disintegration
Barcelona Centre for International Affairs, January 2018

Frontiers of democracy: Embedding democratic values in Central and Eastern Europe – Good practices and limits of transferability
Center for European Neighborhood Studies, January 2018

The Commission takes a step back in the fight for the Rule of Law
Verfassungsblog, January 2018

Infringement proceedings as a tool for the enforcement of fundamental rights in the European Union
Open Society Foundations, October 2017

Europe and its discontents: Poland’s collision course with the European Union
European Council on Foreign Relations, September 2017

Defending EU values in Poland and Hungary
Carnegie Europe, September 2017

Core European values under threat
Bertelsmann Stiftung, August 2017

The open society and its enemies: An attack against CEU, academic freedom and the rule of law
Centre for European Policy Studies, April 2017

The Commission’s decision on ‘less EU’ in safeguarding the rule of law: A play in four acts
Centre for European Policy Studies, March 2017


The role of the Kremlin’s influence and disinformation in the Czech presidential elections
European Values, February 2018

Activities of Czech President Miloš Zeman as the Kremlin’s Trojan horse
European Values, January 2018

Andrej Babiš and the European Union: What to expect in 2018?
EUROPEUM, January 2018

Can EU funds promote the rule of law in Europe?
Centre for European Reform, November 2017

After the elections in the Czech Republic: The end of liberal democracy in Central Europe?
Heinrich Böll Stiftung, October 2017

Poles and Hungarians move the pendulum
Carnegie Europe, October 2019

Hungarian politics in 2018
Friedrich Ebert Foundation, January 2019

Shrinking spaces in Hungary and Poland
Carnegie Europe, October 2017

Viktor Orbán’s survival games
Carnegie Europe, April 2018

Hungarian politics is about to enter a new period
German Marshall Fund, April 2018

Cohesion policy and perceptions of the European Union in Hungary: A cultural political economy approach
Center for Policy Studies, December 2017

Orbán’s theatrical struggle against big, bad Berlin
Heinrich Böll Stiftung, October 2017

Political discrimination in Hungary: Case studies from the Hungarian justice system, local government, media, agriculture, education and civil sector
Policy Solutions, February 2017

Demokratie als Enttäuschung: Transformationserfahrungen in Ungarn
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, January 2017

Information warfare in Hungary
Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade, January 2017

The Polish Senate under opposition control
Verfassungsblog, October 2019

Under siege: Why Polish courts matter for Europe
Stefan Batory Foundation, April 2019

System dyscyplinarny sędziów pod kontrolą ministra sprawiedliwości
Forum Obywatelskiego Rozwoju, February 2019

The revenge of the nation: Political passions in contemporary Poland
Notre Europe, January 2019

The Polish law on the Supreme Court in light of rulings of the Court of Justice of the EU
Stefan Batory Foundation, June 2018

Where the law ends: The collapse of the rule of law in Poland, and what to do
Stefan Batory Foundation, May 2018

The Court is dead, long live the courts? On judicial review in Poland in 2017 and “judicial space” beyond
Verfassungsblog, March 2018

Maintaining the rule of law in Poland: What next for the Article 7 proceedings?
Institute of International and European Affairs, February 2018

Report of the Stefan Batory Foundation legal expert group on the impact of the judiciary reform in Poland in 2015-2018
Stefan Batory Foundation, February 2018

Discussions on rule of law crisis in Poland
Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, January 2018

Systemic threats to the rule of law in Poland: Between action and procrastination
Fondation Robert Schuman, November 2017

Polish civil society: Adapting to new pressures
Centre for Strategic and International Studies, December 2017

Stabilization policies and structural developments: Poland and the crises of 1929 and 2008
Center for Social and Economic Research, December 2017

The West matters to Poland
Carnegie Europe, November 2017

The influence of economic migration on the Polish economy
Center for Social and Economic Research, Fondation Robert Schuman, November 2017

New Pact for Europe: National Report, Poland
European Policy Centre, Institute of Public Affairs, November 2017

Deep rot in Slovakia
Verfassungsblog, October 2019

Frustration and hope: Slovakia after Kuciak’s murder
Centre for Eastern Studies, July 2019

An investigative journalist killed in Slovakia
Centre for Eastern Studies, February 2018

New Pact for Europe: National Report, Slovakia
European Policy Centre, GLOBSEC, November 2017

Strengthening Social Democracy in the Visegrad Countries: Limits and Challenges faced by Smer‑SD
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, January 2017

Read this briefing on ‘Rule of law‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/11/15/rule-of-law-what-think-tanks-are-thinking/

Plenary round-up – Brussels, November I 2019

Written by Clare Ferguson and Katarzyna Sochaka,

30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall - in the presence of Wolfgang SCHÄUBLE, President of the German Bundestag

© European Union 2019 – Source : EP/Philippe BUISSIN

The November I plenary session highlights included statements and debates on the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and on the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Parliament also debated statements made by the Vice-President of the European Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR/VP) on Turkish drilling activities in European Union waters in the Eastern Mediterranean, and on the situation in Bolivia and in Chile. Debates took place, inter alia, on Commission and Council statements on the international day to end impunity for crimes against journalists, on the resurgence of Ebola in East Africa, as well as on the situation of migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina and on the hotspots in Greek islands.

30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall

Parliament marked the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in the presence of Wolfgang Schäuble, President of the German Bundestag. The European Parliament of the time closely followed the swift reunification of the German nation, which took less than a year. The former German Democratic Republic was able to integrate into the European Economic Community through a special procedure. Parliament set up a Temporary Committee, which emphasised the opportunities of German reunification to foster greater European integration, to prevent the undermining of the single market, and to take the wider context of relations with central and eastern Europe into account, all of which remain key issues for the EU today.

Children’s rights on the 30th anniversary of the Convention of the Rights of the Child

Members also marked the 30th anniversary (on 20 November) of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, debating Council and Commission statements on EU action in this field (and will vote on a resolution during the November II session). The convention was the first international treaty to recognise children as human beings with innate rights, outlining universal standards for the care, treatment, survival, development, protection and participation of all children. Since entering into force in 1990, conditions for children have improved, but child poverty in the EU remains a reality, and the Europe 2020 strategy is helping to tackle this. Nevertheless, children’s rights are a priority issue in EU external action, where pursuing the UN Sustainable Development Goals means emphasising healthy, well-nourished and protected children as the basis for a long-term sustainable society.

Situation of migrants in Bosnia

Members debated Council and Commission statements on the situation of migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where around 8 000 people, originating from southern Asia and the Middle East are currently present, mainly in Bihać. Despite EU funds being available, the country has been unable to establish additional locations for temporary reception centres. Unable to cope, local authorities have restricted movement and forcibly transferred migrants to unsuitable sites, while neighbouring Croatia has allegedly pushed migrants back into Bosnia and Herzegovina, in violation of international norms on non-refoulement. Consequently, Bosnia and Herzegovina risks a serious humanitarian emergency in this winter.

Opening of trilogue negotiations

A Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE) decision to enter into interinstitutional (trilogue) negotiations was confirmed. The LIBE committee may therefore begin negotiations on the proposal for a regulation concerning transfer of the False and Authentic Documents Online (FADO) system to Frontex.

This ‘at a glance’ note is intended to review some of the highlights of the plenary part-session, and notably to follow up on key dossiers identified by EPRS. It does not aim to be exhaustive. For more detailed information on specific files, please see other EPRS products, notably our ‘EU legislation in progress’ briefings, and the plenary minutes.

Read this ‘at a glance’ on ‘Plenary round-up – Strasbourg, November I 2019‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/11/15/plenary-round-up-brussels-november-i-2019/

EPRS book talk: ‘The art and craft of political speechwriting’

Written by Isabelle Gaudeul-Ehrhart,

The recent EPRS book talk centred on the art and craft of political speechwriting, a subject that aroused a good deal of interest. More than 200 people – MEPs, assistants, and staff of the European Parliament and other institutions – came to listen to one of the authors of ‘The Political Speechwriter’s Companion‘.

Eric Schnure, former speechwriter to Vice-President Al Gore, was in conversation with Gaby Umbach, from the European University Institute, here as moderator, and Isabelle Gaudeul‑Ehrhart, from EPRS, as the discussant.

Gaby Umbach introduced the conversation by framing it within the series of EPRS events and against the historical and current political backdrop. Eric Schnure then shared his experience of what makes a good speech, starting with his own experience of two speeches, one by President Reagan, the other by Vice-President Gore – a speech that would later evolve into the film ‘An inconvenient truth’. Both these speeches grew from a very small, specific element that was then shown to be relevant to everyone. The best speeches are the ones that are meaningful for the audience. Schnure then reflected on the level of the current political debate, in an age of instant communication and soundbites, and warned the audience against being too quick to blame social media.

EPRS book talk: ‘The art and craft of political speechwriting’

As the discussant, Isabelle Gaudeul-Ehrhart first questioned whether speech writing and delivery are skills that can be learnt. Having explained that they can, referring to both extracts from the book and to her own experience, she then asked whether these skills are inherently American. Building on the authors’ experience of giving training in Europe, Asia and Africa, and touching on the history of rhetoric in Europe, from Ancient Greece to the present day, she concluded that the discipline is definitely not uniquely American but rather was born in Europe and resonates worldwide. Finally, she explored the reasons for the book’s emphasis on ethics.

Eric Schnure confirmed that, even if certain features can be very American (e.g. inviting a surprise guest to be present in the audience), the art of powerful speeches is universal and is ultimately about how we can relate to each other in society. On ethics, Schnure expressed his view that the sheer volume of lies in current political discourse is unprecedented, but argued, by contrast, that very little work is necessary to show a fallacious argument for what it really is.

EPRS book talk: ‘The art and craft of political speechwriting’

Speeches are universal and so is storytelling. Once again, whereas Americans are more prone to telling stories in their speeches, that does not make storytelling an American-only feature. European leaders do tell stories as well and often with much impact.

The conversation included several questions from the audience on recent trends, including on how jokes can be risky whereas wit is reliable, the importance of treating your audience with respect, and the multicultural and multilingual dimensions of speeches at European level. The net result was to reveal a lively interest in a discipline that was born in Europe more than 2 000 years ago and is still very much needed in politics today.

The book talk concluded with a consideration of the relevance of these skills for speakers and speechwriters in the EU, and of this book for the European Parliament and its Research Service.

EPRS book talk: ‘The art and craft of political speechwriting’

Eric Schnure – Gaby Umbach – Isabelle Gaudeul-Ehrhart

A recording of the book talk can be found here.


Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/11/13/eprs-book-talk-the-art-and-craft-of-political-speechwriting/

IMF launches latest European Regional Economic Outlook, at the EPRS

Written by Marcin Grajewski,

Taking the already excellent relations between the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) to an even higher level, the IMF chose to launch its ‘European Regional Economic Outlook’ during an EPRS event on the direction of Europe’s economy in a global context on 6 November 2019. This first joint EPRS-IMF policy roundtable was also a new opportunity for the IMF to make a first presentation of a flagship, market-moving publication on EPRS premises, and took place in the European Parliament’s Library Reading Room. The event, entitled ‘Where next for the European Economy: The latest IMF European Regional Outlook in a global context’, discussed the short and medium-term future of the European economy in a global context, which is marred by a trade conflict between China and the United States, as well as uncertainty about the world’s rules-based economic and political order.

According to the IMF report, as in the rest of the world, European trade and manufacturing have weakened, with signs that the slowdown is spreading to the rest of the economy. The optimistic signal is that services and consumption remain relatively resilient in line with strong labour markets and looser financial conditions that support domestic demand. However, investment is starting to lose steam. The IMF therefore predicts that growth will moderate from 2.3 % in 2018 to 1.4 % in 2019, its lowest rate since 2013. In 2020, growth is projected to recover modestly, to 1.8 %, as international trade is expected to rebound. Nevertheless, if trade disputes remain unresolved, the outlook could darken.

‘We are currently in a synchronised global slowdown and Europe is no exception. Manufacturing and trade have weakened considerably … Consumption remains relatively resilient’, noted Poul Thomsen, Director of the European Department at the IMF, presenting the report.

The IMF advises those countries who can afford to do so to implement fiscal stimuli, while highly indebted countries should move towards the EU-mandated Medium Term Objectives, which encourage them to adjust their structural budgetary positions at a rate of 0.5 % of GDP per year as a benchmark. The European Central Bank policy should remain accommodative, although caution is required thanks to strong labour markets and wage growth in some countries.

Othmar Karas, Vice-President of the European Parliament, in charge of relations, among others, with the IMF, opened the conference with a scene-setting speech, while Anthony Teasdale, ERPS Director-General, moderated the event. Other members of the panel included Robert Holzmann, Governor of the Austrian Central Bank, and Maria Demertzis, Deputy Director at the Bruegel think tank.


Vice-President Karas acknowledged that the European economic situation is not rosy. ‘The trade conflict, from which the USA has not spared Europe, lowers productivity by disrupting supply chains, causes turmoil on financial markets and reduces investment due to uncertainty. Foreign direct investment abroad by advanced economies came almost to a standstill’, he said. However, he noted that the EU is now stronger and more resilient than in the wake of the financial crisis, when some said that the euro area was in an existential crisis. ‘Our economy has grown for seven consecutive years, creating 14 million jobs. We mobilised considerable investment resources through the “Juncker Fund”‘ he said. Karas added that, in his role of Vice-President responsible for information policy, press and relations with citizens, he plans to organise a series of public seminars in national capitals, with the participation of organisations such as the IMF and the World Bank, to raise awareness of the common challenges and facilitate cooperation among governments.

Commenting on the IMF presentation, the President of the Central Bank of Austria, Robert Holzmann, offered an insightful analysis of the ECB’s monetary policies, and Bruegel’s Maria Demertzis pointed to several conundrums in the European economy. She explained that those countries that should stimulate their economies fiscally, cannot afford to do so; while those who do, should not do so in the short-term to avoid pro-cyclical policy. However, they could devise mid- or long-term investment plans. The impact of the ECB’s unconventional monetary measures, on the other hand, have not been studied enough. ‘In fiscal policy we do not have much space, and on monetary policy, if you decide to do some more, you will have to do it basically with your eyes closed’, according to Demertzis. Creating a substantial fiscal capacity at the level of the euro would be a good idea, but there is little political appetite for the move.

The next joint EPRS-IMF event is planned for the first semester in 2020.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/11/12/imf-launches-latest-european-regional-economic-outlook-at-the-eprs/

European Parliament Plenary Session November I 2019

Written by Clare Ferguson,

While the agenda for the European Parliament’s November I mini plenary session, to be held in Brussels on Wednesday, 13 and Thursday, 14 November, may at first glance look a little sparse, Members still have a busy week ahead, with hearings scheduled for Thursday for the three remaining Commissioners-designate.

EP building in Brussels

© Architectes : Vandenbossche SPRL, CRV S.A., CDG S.P.R.L., Studiegroep D. Bontinck, ©Façade et Hémicycle – Arch M. Boucquillon Belgium – European Union 2019 – Source : EP

With the three candidates’ declarations of financial interests having satisfied the Legal Affairs Committee on 12 November, the first full hearing to take place will be that of Olivér Várhelyi, candidate for the neighbourhood and enlargement portfolio (before the Foreign Affairs Committee at 08:00 on 14 November). Currently Hungary’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the EU, Várhelyi, a lawyer, has long experience of working on EU affairs. The hearing before the Transport and Tourism Committee for Adina Vălean, a long-standing (since the country’s accession in 2007) Romanian Member of the European Parliament and the current Chair of the Industry, Research and Energy Committee, follows at 13:00. Candidate for the transport portfolio, Vălean has experience, as rapporteur, of related files, such as the e-Call legislation and Connecting Europe Facility. At the same time, the hearing for Thierry Breton, an accomplished businessman, academic and author and the French candidate for the internal market portfolio, will take place before the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, and Industry, Research and Energy committees jointly. Should the respective committees agree that the three Commissioners-designate are ready to take up these portfolios, a vote in Parliament’s plenary to confirm the 2019-2024 Commission as a whole would be expected to take place in Strasbourg on 27 November, allowing the von der Leyen Commission to take office on 1 December, one month later than planned.

As the previous Commission meanwhile continues as a caretaker administration, little new business is arriving with Parliament for scrutiny. Nonetheless, Parliament will still consider some highly topical issues. The first of these is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, when Parliament will mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in the presence of Wolfgang Schäuble, the President of the German Bundestag. The swift reunification of the German nation, which took less than a year, was followed closely by the European Parliament of the time. The former German Democratic Republic was able to integrate into the European Economic Community through a special procedure, with a Temporary Committee set up by Parliament. That committee emphasised the opportunities of German reunification to foster greater European integration, to prevent undermining of the single market, and to take the wider context of relations with central and eastern Europe into account, all of which remain key issues for the EU today.

Members will also mark the 30th anniversary (on 20 November) of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child on Wednesday (and will vote on a resolution during the November II session), with Council and Commission statements on EU action in this field. The convention was the first international treaty to recognise children as human beings with innate rights. Since its entry into force in 1990, conditions for children have improved, but child poverty in the EU remains a reality, especially for disadvantaged groups, and the EU is helping to tackle child poverty under the Europe 2020 strategy. Nevertheless, children’s rights are also a priority issue in EU external action, where following up on the UN Sustainable Development Goals means placing a fundamental emphasis on healthy, well-nourished and protected children as the basis for a long-term sustainable society. Migrant families are often among those groups where children are disadvantaged, and migration to the EU returns to the Parliament agenda on Thursday morning, with Council and Commission statements on the situation of migrants in Bosnia and in the hotspots on the Greek islands.

Finally, the outgoing Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, is due to make a statement on Turkish drilling activities in EU waters in the Eastern Mediterranean. An increase in offshore gas exploration and exploitation in the region has long been predicted, but dispute has arisen between Cyprus and Turkey regarding drilling in the Cypriot economic exclusion zone.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/11/12/european-parliament-plenary-session-november-i-2019/

Get in touch with the European Parliament

© sdecoret / Shutterstock

The European Parliament regularly receives enquiries from citizens about how to contact the European Parliament, its Members and its departments. If you have a question, who should you contact?

Citizens’ enquiries

The Citizens’ Enquiries Unit (Ask EP) provides general information about the European Parliament and its activities, powers and structure. You can contact AskEP through this online form or through the Citizens’ App.

Liaison offices

The European Parliament Liaison Offices in EU countries provide the public with information and organise lectures, campaigns and debates on European issues. Citizens, stakeholders and media can contact them directly for local information.


If you have a complaint or a request on an issue that falls within the European Union’s fields of activity, every EU citizen or legal resident has the right to submit a petition to the European Parliament, under Article 227 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The Parliament’s Committee on Petitions examines these petitions and decides on their admissibility.

Citizens and residents can submit a new petition or support existing ones through the petitions web portal, which also contains instructions on how to submit petitions in paper format.

Members and the President

Each Member of the European Parliament provides a wealth of information, including contact details, on their profile page on the European Parliament website. You can find individual members’ profile pages through this search page, using various filters to search by country or political group.

The President of the European Parliament’s contact information is available on the President’s webpage.

Political groups, committees and delegations

Members of the European Parliament can form political groups, organised based on political affinity rather than nationality. The political groups webpage contains links to the external websites of individual political groups.

Parliamentary committees propose amendments on legislative proposals and draft own-initiative reports in preparation for consideration in the plenary assembly. The committees webpage provides information about all standing, temporary and special parliamentary committees. A contact address for each committee secretariat is available on the right-hand column of each committee page.

The European Parliament’s delegations maintain relations and exchange information with parliaments in non-EU countries. Information on their members and their activities is available on the delegations webpage. Each delegation page gives a contact address for the delegation secretariat.


The webmaster is responsible for the functioning of the European Parliament’s internet pages (Europarl). Use the online form to report technical problems, remarks and suggestions regarding the Europarl website.

Keep sending your questions to the Citizens’ Enquiries Unit (Ask EP)! We reply in the EU language that you use to write to us.

Further information

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/11/12/get-in-touch-with-the-european-parliament/

Revising the fisheries control system [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Irina Popescu,

© oslobis / Fotolia

On 30 May 2018, the European Commission issued a proposal to revise the fisheries control system by modernising and simplifying the monitoring of fisheries activities, improving the enforcement and updating a control system that was conceived before the 2013 CFP reform. The revision centres on the amendment of the Control Regulation 1224/2009. The proposal introduces requirements for more complete fisheries data, including an electronic tracking system for all fishing vessels, fully digitised reporting of catches with electronic logbooks and landing declarations applicable to all vessels, and catch-declaration rules for recreational fisheries. It improves traceability through digitalised identification and declaration along the supply chain for all fishery and aquaculture products, whether from EU fisheries or imported. The enforcement rules are thoroughly revised, with a common list of activities defined as serious infringements and corresponding sanctions, as well as a strengthened point system. The proposal also revises the mandate of the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA), to fully align its objectives with the CFP and to upgrade its inspection powers, and Regulation 1005/2008 on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, to introduce a digital catch certification scheme for imported fishery products.


Stage: EESC

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/11/08/revising-the-fisheries-control-system-eu-legislation-in-progress/

Ocean governance and blue growth: Challenges, opportunities and policy responses

Written by Frederik Scholaert,

Very large passenger ship and a small sailboat pass offshore wind turbines near the Oresund Bridge between Denmark and Sweden

© balipadma/ Fotolia

Oceans cover more than two thirds of the earth and are a vital element of life on our planet. Not only are they a primary source of food, they are also central to the carbon cycle; they regulate the climate and produce most of the oxygen in the air we breathe. They also play an important socio-economic role. The ‘blue economy’, covering traditional sectors such as fisheries, extraction of oil and gas, maritime transport and coastal tourism, as well as new, fast-growing industries such as offshore wind, ocean energy and blue biotechnology, shows great potential for further economic growth, employment creation and innovation.

At the same time, oceans face pressures, mainly associated with the over-exploitation of resources, pollution and the effects of climate change. In recent years, ocean pollution from plastics has received more attention from the public and has been high on policy-makers’ agendas.

At global level, the European Union is an active player in protecting oceans and shaping ocean governance. It has made progress by taking measures in a series of areas: maritime security, marine pollution, sustainable blue economy, climate change, marine protection, and sustainable fisheries; by working towards the United Nations 2030 Agenda sustainable development goal on oceans; and by taking part in negotiations on a new international legally binding instrument on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. In encouraging the blue economy, the EU also recognises the environmental responsibilities that go along with it. Healthy, clean oceans guarantee the long-term capacity to sustain such economic activities, while a natural decline threatens the ecosystem of the planet as a whole and ultimately, the well-being of our societies. The conservation of marine biological resources under the common fisheries policy, EU action under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the establishment of marine protected areas are key EU policies when it comes to protecting the marine environment. They are complemented by recent environmental legislation such as the Directive on single-use plastics to reduce marine litter.

Read this briefing on ‘Ocean governance and blue growth: Challenges, opportunities and policy responses‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/11/06/ocean-governance-and-blue-growth-challenges-opportunities-and-policy-responses/