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Financing EU security and defence: Heading 5 of the 2021-2027 MFF

Written by Sidonia Mazur,

© M-SUR / Fotolia

For the new 2021-2027 multiannual financial framework (MFF), the European Commission proposes to dedicate a separate heading to security and defence – Heading 5. Although the European Union (EU) has already financed action linked to security and defence, this is the first time that this policy area has been so visibly underlined in the EU budget structure. With an allocation of €24 323 million (in 2018 prices), Heading 5 is the smallest of the seven MFF headings and represents 2.1 % of the total MFF.

Heading 5 ‘Security and Defence’ under the new MFF consists of three ‘policy clusters’: security, (policy cluster number 12), defence (13) and crisis response (14).

The programmes and funds proposed for Heading 5 consist of old and new initiatives. They include the continuation of the current Internal Security Fund – Police instrument, funding for nuclear decommissioning and the Union Civil Protection Mechanism (rescEU). The European Defence Fund and the military mobility programme, which is a part of the Connecting Europe Facility, are new.

The European Parliament position is supportive of the Commission proposal, with the exception of the allocation for nuclear decommissioning, which the Parliaments sees as insufficient.

Even though the Council has not yet expressed its position on the 2021-2027 MFF, the Finnish EU Presidency contributed to the debate with its ‘negotiation box’ that proposed severe cuts to Heading 5, down to €16 491 million. The European Parliament reaction to this reduction is negative.


Read the complete briefing on ‘Financing EU security and defence: Heading 5 of the 2021-2027 MFF‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2020/02/15/financing-eu-security-and-defence-heading-5-of-the-2021-2027-mff/

Competition in the EU and globally [What Think Tanks are thinking]

Written by Marcin Grajewski,

© Fotolia

The digital revolution, global trade disputes and low growth in the European economy have, among other factors, revived the debate about the merits and drawbacks of the European Union’s strict EU competition rules, which cover cartels, market dominance, mergers and state aid. Some politicians and economists argue that competition is an increasingly global phenomenon and that the intra-Community trade context for which the EU competition rules were originally designed no longer applies and the rules themselves are, as a result, too prescriptive. This emerging view might encourage the Union to pursue a more active and coordinated EU industrial policy supported by more flexible rules on state aid and mergers in particular. The debate comes at a time when the U.S.-China trade conflict and problems in the World Trade Organisation are reshaping global economic competition, with new relationships and partnerships being formed.

This note offers links to recent commentaries, studies and reports from international think tanks on the EU’s competition and industrial policy challenges and on a changing naturee of global competition. More studies on trade issues can be found in a previous item from these series, published in September 2019.

A surprising new alliance: Europe and Japan
Centre for European Policy Studies, January 2020

How can European competition law address market distortions caused by state-owned enterprises?
Bruegel, December 2019

Industrial subsidies, state-owned enterprises and market distortions: Problems, proposals and a path forward
Centre for European Policy Studies, January 2020

The economics of European sovereignty: What role for EU competition policy in industrial policy?
Jacques Delors Centren Hertie School, December 2019

What is the scope of the EU external competence in the field of energy today?
Jacques Delors Institute, December 2019

Detecting, investigating and prosecuting export control violations: European perspectives on key challenges and good practices
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, December 2019

The future of EU’s Eastern Partnership beyond 2020: EU’s engagement in a contested Eastern neighbourhood amidst internal crisis and geopolitical competition
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik, December 2019

European seaports and Chinese strategic influence: The relevance of the maritime silk road for the Netherlands
Clingendael, December 2019

The UK and the EU should prevent mutual assured damage
Peterson Institute for International Economics, December 2019

An Industry Action Plan for a more competitive, sustainable and strategic European Union
European Policy Centre, November 2019

A primer on developing European public goods: A report to Ministers Bruno Le Maire and Olaf Scholz
Bruegel, November 2019

The drafting of a European Business Code
Fondation Robert Schuman, November 2019

EU–US relations on internet governance
Chatham House, November 2019

Establishing trust in an AI-powered future
Jacques Delors Institute, November 2019

How does China fare on the Russian market? Implications for the European Union
Bruegel, November 2019

Europe and China’s belt and road initiative: Growing concerns, more strategy
Egmont, November 2019

Beyond industrial policy: Why Europe needs a new growth strategy
Jacques Delors Institute, October 2019

A geographically fair EU industrial strategy
European Policy Centre, October 2019

With or without you: Are central European countries ready for the euro?
Bruegel, October 2019

The Netherlands and Germany, ensuring competitiveness in a net zero emissions world
E3G, October 2019

Emerging trade battlefield with China: Export competition and firm’s coping strategies
Research Institute of the Finnish Economy, October 2019

Shaping a new international trade order: Competition and co-operation among the European Union, the United States, and China
Dahrendorf Institute, October 2019

La politique de sanctions de l’Union européenne: Ambition multilatérale contre ambition de puissance
Institut francais des relations internationales, October 2019

The power to engage: Giving punch to a new EU global strategy 2020
Egmont, September 2019

A human-centric digital manifesto for Europe
Open Societies Foundations, September 2019

What are the benefits of data sharing? Uniting supply chain and platform economy perspectives
Research Institute of the Finnish Economy, September 2019

Economic polarisation in Europe: Causes and options for action
Wiener Institut für Internationale Wirtschaftsvergleiche, September 2019

Holding together what belongs together: A strategy to counteract economic polarisation in Europe
Wiener Institut für Internationale Wirtschaftsvergleiche, September 2019

Should the EU tax imported CO2?
Centre for European Reform, September 2019

New beginnings – Objective 2024: Better living and working conditions for all Europeans
Notre Europe, September 2019

Über-influential? How the gig economy’s lobbyists undermine social and workers rights
Corporate Europe Observatory, September 2019

The US-China 5G contest: Options for Europe
Instituto Affari Internzionali, September 2019

Delivering sustainable food and land use systems: The role of international trade
Chatham House, September 2019

Chinese method of currency internationalization
Instytut Sobieskiego, September 2019

Measuring the rise of economic nationalism
Peterson Institute for International Economics, August 2019

The threats to the European Union’s economic sovereignty
Bruegel, August 2019

The European Union energy transition: Key priorities for the next five years
Bruegel, July 2019

A strategic agenda for the new EU leadership
Bruegel, June 2019

The European Union versus the better regulation agenda: Why the outcome depends on a paradigm shift
European Trade Union Institute, June 2019

Sustaining multilateralism in a multipolar world
Notre Europe, June 2019

Cross border services in the internal market: An important contribution to economic and social cohesion
Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft Köln, June 2019

Tech giants in banking: The implications of a new market power
Instituto Affari Internzionali, June 2019

Divergence and diversity in the Euro area: The case of Germany, France and Italy
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, June 2019

Net neutrality regulation: Much ado about nothing?
Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung, June 2019

China and the world trade organisation: Towards a better fit
Bruegel, May 2019

Who is big in Brussels?
Tænketanken Europa, May 2019

Digitalsteuer in der EU Wo stehen wir?
Bertelsmann Stiftung, Jacques Delors Institute, 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

L’Europe et la 5G : Le cas Huawei
Institute Montaigne, May 2019

Business (not) for peace: A call for conflict-sensitive policy in fragile states
South African Institute of International Affairs, May 2019

China and Europe: Trade, technology and competition
Observer Research Foundation, May 2019

Addressing China’s rising influence in Africa
Chicago Council on Global Affairs, May 2019

China’s race to global technology leadership
Istituto per gli Studi di Politica Internazionale, May 2019

EP 2014-19 key votes: Copyright
Jacques Delors Institute, April 2019

Infrastructure for growth: How to finance, develop, and protect it
Istituto per gli Studi di Politica Internazionale, April 2019

Posted workers regulations as a cohesion test in the enlarged EU
Friedrich Ebert Sftitung, April 2019

A roadmap for a fair data economy
Lisbon Council, April 2019

EU industrial policy after Siemens-Alstom: Finding a new balance between openness and protection
European Political Strategy Centre, March 2019

Standing up for competition: Market concentration, regulation, and Europe’s quest for a new industrial policy
European Centre for International Political Economy, March 2019

Effect of public procurement regulation on competition and cost-effectiveness
Robert Schuman Centre, European University Institute, March 2019

Escaping the startup trap: Can policymakers help small companies grow to major employers?
Progressive Policy Institute, February 2019

The German undervaluation regime under Bretton Woods: How Germany became the nightmare of the world economy
Max Planck Institut für Gesellschaftsforschung, February 2019

Innovate Europe: Competing for global innovation leadership
World Economic Forum, January 2019

Vertical restraints and e-commerce
Bruegel, January 2019

Big data analytics need standards to thrive: What standards are and why they matter
Centre for International Governance Innovation, January 2019


Read this briefing on ‘Competion in the EU and globally‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2020/02/14/competion-in-the-eu-and-globally-what-think-tanks-are-thinking/

Migration and border management: Heading 4 of the 2021-2027 MFF

Written by Alessandro D’Alfonso,

© robsonphoto/ Fotolia

The Treaty of Lisbon makes explicit reference to pooling financial resources to support common policies on asylum, immigration and external borders. While expenditure for these policy areas still represents a minor share of the EU budget, it has recently increased in the wake of the 2015-2016 refugee crisis. Since the resources available under the 2014-2020 multiannual financial framework (MFF) of the EU proved insufficient to address the crisis, EU institutions had to use the flexibility provisions of the MFF extensively.

Given the increasing salience of the policy areas, the European Commission has proposed the establishment of a specific heading devoted to migration and border management worth €30.8 billion (2018 prices) in the 2021-2027 MFF. As compared with the current period, these allocations would represent a significant increase in relative terms, especially as regards border management. The heading would finance two funding instruments, the Asylum and Migration Fund (AMF) and the Integrated Border Management Fund (IBMF), as well as the activities of relevant EU decentralised agencies, such as the European Border and Coast Guard Agency and the European Asylum Support Office. By designing these new funds, the European Commission seeks to improve synergies with other EU funding instruments and increase capacity to react to evolving needs.

Negotiations for the MFF package are very complex, involving different legislative procedures for the adoption of the overall MFF and the sector-specific instruments. The European Parliament, the Council and the European Council are working on the proposals, which have also triggered reactions from other stakeholders, including academics, think-tanks and commentators.


Read the complete briefing on ‘Migration and border management: Heading 4 of the 2021-2027 MFF‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2020/02/14/migration-and-border-management-heading-4-of-the-2021-2027-mff/

Plenary round-up – Strasbourg, February 2020

Written by Katarzyna Sochacka and Clare Ferguson,

EP Plenary session - Preparation of the Extraordinary European Council Meeting of 20 February 2020 on the Multiannual Financial Framework

© European Union 2020 – Source : EP / Michel CHRISTEN

Highlights of the February session included debates on a review of economic governance; the revised enlargement methodology proposed by the Commission; a breach of Council Decision 2017/2074 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Venezuela; the current situation in Syria; on fighting against antisemitism, racism and hatred across Europe; as well as on the ongoing threat to the rule of law in Poland. Members also adopted a resolution on the illegal trade in companion animals. They debated the state of play in the EU’s fight against money laundering (in light of the Luanda Leaks); the humanitarian situation of refugees at EU external borders; and the coronavirus outbreak. Members also voted on a resolution on EU priorities for the 64th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

Preparation of the extraordinary European Council Meeting on the MFF

Members called for an ambitious compromise on the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2021-2027, hoping for early European Council agreement. Negotiations on the proposals put forward by the previous Commission are proving rather complicated, not least due to the withdrawal of a major net contributor in the UK. Charles Michel, President of the European Council, has called an extraordinary European Council Meeting on the MFF, scheduled to start on 20 February 2020, to attempt to finalise an agreement on the proposed new structure for EU finances, which aims at shifting the priority for spending towards a climate-resilient economy.

Mandate for negotiations for a new partnership with the UK

Members discussed statements from the Council and Commission statements on the negotiating mandate for the negotiations for a new partnership with the UK. By a very large majority, Parliament adopted its position on the EU-27’s priorities for negotiations, due to open in March, between the EU and the UK on a post-Brexit cooperation agreement, including trade. Parliament reiterated the well-known EU-27 principles: that a non-Member State must not have the same rights and benefits as a Member State; the single market’s four fundamental freedoms of movement are indivisible; the EU legal order and the role of the Court of Justice must be preserved; a level playing field must be ensured through guaranteed equivalent standards in social, environmental, employment, competitive, and State aid matters; and the EU’s financial stability must be underpinned by a balance of rights and obligations with proportionate financial contributions where appropriate.

Ongoing threat to the rule of law in Poland

A large majority of Members reiterated their concerns about the controversial reform of the Polish judicial system and, more broadly, about the state of the rule of law in Poland, underlining the continuing threat to the rule of law in Poland and the urgency of action.

SMEs and better regulation

Parliament is a staunch supporter of a business-friendly EU where small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and innovators benefit from a level playing field, and promotes the use of impact assessment to gauge the effects of new legislation on SMEs in particular. Members debated a Commission statement on the progress made with minimising the impact of EU legislation on SMEs through the better regulation initiative. The Commission gave an indication of what to expect in the new industrial strategy for Europe, expected in March 2020 and its communication on better regulation, expected sometime afterwards.

United States Middle East Plan: EU response in line with international law

Parliament also debated a statement by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell Fontelles, on the EU response to the US Middle East plan proposed by US President Trump (‘the White House plan’). While there was no vote on the subject, the EU and Parliament are strongly committed to a two-state solution that respects international law.

Gender equality strategy

Progress towards gender equality has stalled, and the current Parliament has lost no time in demanding a robust EU gender equality strategy. The Commission made a statement on its proposals for a new gender equality strategy, the preparation of which involved informal input from the Parliament’s Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM). Following a related plenary debate on 18 December 2019, Members adopted a resolution on the EU strategy to put an end to female genital mutilation around the world. Parliament has long been active in raising awareness of the need to act to end the practice, which it considers a form of persecution, as part of its combat against all forms of violence against women and girls.

Free Trade and Investment Protection Agreements with Vietnam

Parliament gave its consent to the EU’s conclusion of two trade agreements with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The agreements (a Free Trade Agreement covering exclusive EU competences, and an Investment Protection Agreement based on competences that are shared with EU Member States), could see exports to Vietnam rise by almost 30 %. Although there is some concern regarding the human rights situation in the country, Parliament’s committees scrutinising the proposed agreements have concluded that engaging with Vietnam is the best way to encourage improvement. The agreements must subsequently be ratified by Vietnam (as well as EU Member States in the case of the IPA), before entering into force.

European Central Bank – annual report 2018

Christine Lagarde attended the plenary session for the first time in her capacity as President of the European Central Bank (ECB), for the debate on an Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee report on the ECB’s annual report for 2018. Reflecting on the rather mixed economic results over that year, the committee pointed out the need for a review of ECB monetary policy, with full Parliament involvement, as well as public consultation. It also underlined the ECB’s responsibility for considering the impact of policy on the environment, and urged the ECB to continue to improve transparency and communication with citizens. The adopted report also calls for better gender balance on the ECB Executive Board and Governing Council.

For the strengthened European Border and Coast Guard Agency (EBCG – formerly Frontex) to carry out its work in support of EU countries’ border and migration management, it, and border guards more generally, needs to be able to verify the documents presented by people wishing to cross the EU’s external borders. However, the proliferation of both authentic and fake documentation makes the agency’s work that much harder. Members debated and voted by a large majority to approve the upgrading of the False and Authentic Documents Online (FADO) system. Under the agreed text, the EBCG will take over management of the system, which stores details of travel, identity, residence and civil status documents, driving and vehicle licences issued by Member States or the EU. Personal data will be kept to the minimum necessary for operations and availability filtered according to status, such as authorities involved in document fraud, or the general public.


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

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2020/02/14/plenary-round-up-strasbourg-february-2020/

Natural resources and environment: Heading 3 of the 2021-2027 MFF

Written by Karoline Kowald,

© Martin Erdniss / Shutterstock.com

Dedicated to programmes and funds supporting agriculture and maritime policy, and environment and climate change, Heading 3 is the second biggest in terms of funding in the European Commission proposal on the future multiannual financial framework (MFF) for 2021-2027. The two agricultural funds – the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (EAGF) and the Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) – are the main financial instruments for the common agricultural policy (CAP). They will continue to absorb the greater part of the financial resources under this heading. However, the European Commission proposes an amount of €324 284 million to cover both funds, which is a decrease of around €60 000 million (or 15 %) compared to the current MFF (2014-2020), after deducing current United Kingdom (UK) spending. The proposed European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) would amount to €5 448 million, which is 13 % less than in the current MFF, after deducting current UK spending.

In its November 2018 resolution on the European Commission proposals for the new MFF, the European Parliament, raised the budget for agricultural and maritime policy back to the level of the current MFF (2014-2020), to €391 198 million. Where the European Commission proposes €4 828 million for the Programme for Environment & Climate Action (LIFE) for 2021-2027, Parliament’s resolution increased this amount considerably, requesting an allocation of €6 442 million. Parliament has also asked for a new Energy Transition Fund, with a budget of €4 800 million for 2021-2027, to address the negative socio-economic impact on workers and communities affected by the transition from a coal and carbon dependent economy to a low-carbon economy.

The Council has not yet adopted a position on the MFF proposal and national positions are divergent. However, according to the ‘negotiating box’ proposed by the Finnish Council Presidency, under Heading 3, the cuts in the budget for agriculture would represent a reduction of 13 % in spending, compared to the current MFF.


Read the complete briefing on ‘Natural resources and environment: Heading 3 of the 2021-2027 MFF‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2020/02/14/natural-resources-and-environment-heading-3-of-the-2021-2027-mff/

Cohesion funds, values and economic and monetary union in the 2021-2027 MFF: European Parliament position on Heading 2 – Cohesion and values

Written by Magdalena Sapala,

© European Union, EPRS

Heading 2 – Cohesion and values – is the biggest in terms of budget in the multiannual financial framework (MFF) proposed by the European Commission for the 2021 to 2027 period. It is also the most diversified heading in terms of the types of programme and fund included. It encompasses expenditure on cohesion, one of the EU’s long-standing policies, on an entirely new budgetary instrument supporting economic and monetary union, and on other increasingly important goals, including youth employment, the creative sector, values, equality and the rule of law. Under this heading the Commission is proposing to almost halve the Cohesion Fund and double the Erasmus+ programme. Moreover, some of the programmes included fall under shared management between the Commission and EU Member States, while some are managed directly by the Commission.

This briefing presents Heading 2 in detail, on the basis of previous EPRS publications on the 2021-2027 MFF proposal. It aims to provide some clarity on its structure and allocation in comparison with the current MFF, based on the Commission’s proposal for the 2021-2027 MFF and the European Parliament’s negotiating position adopted on 14 November 2018. The analysis is structured around three issues: the introduction to the EU budget of a new budgetary instrument for economic and monetary union, a change in the allocation for cohesion policy, and the merging of programmes supporting people, social cohesion and values.


Read the complete briefing on ‘Cohesion funds, values and economic and monetary union in the 2021-2027 MFF‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2020/02/13/cohesion-funds-values-and-economic-and-monetary-union-in-the-2021-2027-mff/

Parliament’s right of legislative initiative [Policy podcast]

Written by Silvia Kotanidis,

Stockshot of the hemicycle of the European Parliament in Strasbourg - Vote by a show of hand

© European Union 2019 – Source : EP/Michel CHRISTEN

The European Commission has a near monopoly on legislative initiative in the European Union (EU), with special initiative rights for other institutions applying only in certain specific cases. However, the European Parliament and the Council may invite the Commission to submit legislative proposals. Whilst this ‘indirect’ initiative right does not create an obligation on the Commission to propose the legislation requested, the Treaty of Lisbon codified the Commission’s obligation to provide reasons for any refusal to follow a parliamentary initiative. Against this backdrop, some argue that Parliament could take the Commission to the Court of Justice of the EU if it fails to justify a negative decision.

Others see Parliament’s increasing participation in overall political planning – particularly through negotiations on the Commission’s annual work programme (CWP) – as a further channel for Parliament to increase its influence on EU legislation. It is thus argued that the increased role of Parliament in the legislative procedure should have reduced the need for its Members to make use of legislative initiatives. Notwithstanding that, there is a trend towards greater use of formal parliamentary legislative initiatives to assert greater influence on the political process.

Most recently, in her inaugural address in July 2019 and in her Political Guidelines, the then newly elected President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, pledged to strengthen the partnership with the European Parliament, inter alia, by responding with a proposal for a legislative act whenever Parliament, acting by a majority of its members, adopts a resolution requesting that the Commission submit legislative proposals. She added that this commitment would have to be in full respect of the proportionality, subsidiarity and better law-making principles. President von der Leyen also declared herself supportive of moves towards recognition of a right for Parliament of legislative initiative.


Read the complete briefing on ‘Parliament’s right of legislative initiative‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Listen to policy podcast ‘European Parliament’s legislative initiative‘ on YouTube.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2020/02/13/parliaments-right-of-legislative-initiative-policy-podcast/

Single market, innovation and digital: Heading 1 of the 2021-2027 MFF

Written by Marianna Pari,

© Oleksii Lishchyshyn / Shutterstock.com

The European Union’s long-term budget, the multiannual financial framework (MFF), sets out the maximum annual amounts of spending for a seven-year period. It is structured around the EU’s spending priorities, reflected in broad categories of expenditure or ‘headings’.

Heading 1 – Single market, innovation and digital – is one of the seven headings in the MFF proposed by the European Commission for the new 2021-2027 financial period. The heading covers spending in four policy areas: research and innovation, European strategic investments, single market, and space. The Commission, with a view to matching the budget to the EU’s political ambitions, is proposing an overall amount of €166.3 billion (in 2018 prices) for this heading, representing 14.7 % of the MFF proposal. However, the new Commission’s six priorities for 2019-2024 could have a budgetary impact on this heading, in particular the support for investment in green technologies and a cleaner private and public transport, which are among the actions included in the European Green Deal, and efforts to enable Europe to make the most of the potential of the digital age.

This briefing presents the structure and budget allocation of Heading 1 and compares it with the current MFF. It describes each policy cluster and compares the Commission’s budgetary proposal with the European Parliament’s negotiating position and the negotiating box presented by the Finnish Presidency in December 2019. It then explores some considerations that could contribute to the forthcoming budgetary negotiations on the 2021-2027 MFF.


Read the complete briefing on ‘Single market, innovation and digital: Heading 1 of the 2021-2027 MFF‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2020/02/13/single-market-innovation-and-digital-heading-1-of-the-2021-2027-mff/

The Middle East and North Africa Region (MENA): What future for stabilisation and reconstruction

A joint EPRS-EUI policy roundtable

Written by Marcin Cesluk-Grajewski and Joanna Apap,

The Middle East and North Africa Region (MENA): What future for stabilisation and reconstruction

The Middle East and North Africa Region (MENA): What future for stabilisation and reconstruction

Nearly a decade after the Arab Spring, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region remains ravaged by war and social conflict and mass migration of refugees, as well as suffering economic impoverishment. This unstable neighbourhood poses many threats and challenges for the European Union (EU), including terrorism and radicalisation of local minorities and mass migration. The EU should therefore increase its engagement in the MENA and, perhaps, exchange its traditional model of conflict resolution and reconstruction for a ‘bottom up’ one, focused on citizens and local communities, according to analysts speaking at a conference in the European Parliament. A lack of meaningful EU action is likely to increase China and Russia’s efforts to gain more influence in the oil-rich area and allow regional powers, for example Iran, to solidify and expand their spheres of influence.

The ‘Outlook for the MENA Region: What future for stabilisation and reconstruction’ event was organised by the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) and the Florence-based European University Institute (EUI) in the European Parliament’s Library Reading Room on 21 January 2020. Gathering an audience of more than 100 policy-makers, diplomats and members of civil society, it evolved around a recent e-book – ‘Fractured stability: war economies and reconstruction in the MENA‘ – a collection of essays by eminent scholars, who explore alternative approaches to reconstruction.

‘We must think forward and see what Europe can do to create appropriate conditions for real-term, sustainable conflict resolution in the MENA countries,’ the EUI’s Professor Luigi Narbone, one of the key contributors to the e-book, told the audience. He added that the traditional model of diplomatic negotiations, followed by power-sharing deals and reconstruction fuelled by foreign aid does not seem to work in the MENA region. More than nine years have passed since popular uprisings in the region, but war still rages in Syria, Yemen and Libya, while politics and economies remain highly fragile in many other counties.

‘We need a new approach. We need to think outside the box. It is important to continue diplomatic pressures. Nevertheless, we need to start reconstruction with a bottom-up approach, a people-centred approach. We need to work with local communities, to provide basic service to the population, some security, foster an inclusive bottom-up economy to create islands where very construction starts’, said Narbone.

Professor Steven Heydemann of Smith College, a co-author of the e-book, concurred, saying that the complex situation in the region requires fresh ideas. He challenged a long-standing view that wars and revolutions, in fact, provide a fresh opportunity to re-build economies. Conflicts usually do not destroy previous systems, which are ‘parasitic, illicit and predatory. ‘War-time economies in Syria, Libya and Yemen exhibit a lot of continuity with pre-war economies’, he stated. ‘The principal objective of post-conflict economic reconstruction should be to insulate citizens from the predatory, coercive, extractive norms and institutions that are the every-day practices of dominant political elites.’

Brando Benifei, Member of the European Parliament and Rapporteur on Parliament’s ‘Post-Arab Spring: Way forward for the MENA region‘ report, deplored that the EU’s inconsistent approach towards the region, with some countries driven by their economic interests or post-colonial ties. This diminishes the EU’s leverage in the MENA region. He also cautioned European diplomacy against ‘quick-fixes’ intended to address pressing issues in the short-term, such as migration and terrorism. Benifei felt that EU policy should be oriented towards democratisation and respect for human rights.

Acting in their role as discussants, Perla Srour-Gandon, Policy Adviser on the Middle East and Gulf Countries at the Secretariat of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee and Branislav Stanicek Policy Analyst in the External Policies Unit of EPRS, shared their views from a country-based focus. Srour-Gandon focused on Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen and gave a comprehensive overview of how the European Parliament is engaged in the region, notably through formal and informal meetings with parliamentarians and ministers. She noted the growing role of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for individuals engaged in peace-making and democratisation.

Branislav Stanicek, who focused on Libya and Syria, portrayed a picture of the region, which emerged as complex and facing humanitarian crisis. Sadly, there are no easy answers to putting the region on the path towards stability. Should the EU negotiate with dictators to achieve a short-term alleviation of the situation, or fix its problems with, for example, migration? If the EU refuses to engage, what if China and Russia are willing to do so? Such questions call for deep reflection by the EU in its efforts to boost engagement in the MENA region.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2020/02/13/the-middle-east-and-north-africa-region-mena-what-future-for-stabilisation-and-reconstruction/

European Commission Work Programme for 2020

An ex-ante impact assessment/ex-post evaluation perspective for parliamentary committees

Written by Milan Remáč and Stefano Vettorazzi,

© fotolia

This briefing is intended as a background overview for parliamentary committees planning their activities in relation to the European Commission’s 2020 work programme (CWP 2020). It offers a brief description of the work programme’s content and of related publications provided by the Ex-Ante Impact Assessment Unit (IMPA) and the Ex-Post Evaluation Unit (EVAL) of the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS), in particular initial appraisals of Commission impact assessments and implementation appraisals.

Following the same format as in previous years, the CWP 2020 announces multiple legislative proposals, whether entirely new or updating existing legislation. Also, as in previous years, the annexes to the CWP 2020 provide a fairly clear overview of new initiatives, regulatory fitness and performance (REFIT) initiatives, pending priority proposals, intended withdrawals and repeals of existing legal acts envisaged. Under the CWP 2020, the Commission plans to submit at least 97 new legislative and non-legislative initiatives to the European Parliament, and at least 44 REFIT initiatives (both legislative and non-legislative), by the end of 2020.

Commission work programme 2020 communication

On 29 January 2020, the new European Commission published and presented its work programme for 2020: ‘A Union that strives for more’, COM(2020) 37. This sets out a targeted agenda to implement the von der Leyen Commission’s six priorities for 2019-2024 and the key initiatives that support them. The six priorities are:

  • A European Green Deal,
  • An economy that works for people,
  • A Europe fit for the digital age,
  • Promoting our European way of life,
  • A stronger Europe in the world and
  • A new push for European democracy.

The European Commission presented the CWP 2020 in the form of a communication, with five annexes providing more in-depth information about the Commission’s legislative and non-legislative intentions for 2020.

The communication is structured along the six priorities set out in President von der Leyen’s political guidelines and focuses on the priorities for the European Parliament and those in the European Council’s Strategic Agenda for 2019-2024. The work programme focuses in particular on the opportunities that can be generated by ‘the twin ecological and digital transition’. According to the CWP 2020, the UN Sustainable Development Goals will be placed at the centre of EU policy-making.

The Commission underlines its strong commitment to strengthen its special relationship with the European Parliament, and in this regard supports a right of initiative for the Parliament. Better regulation will continue to be the main tool for designing and evaluating EU policies and laws. The CWP 2020 explicitly refers to the application of a ‘one in, one out’ approach (although it does not provide any further explanation),and draws on the benefits of strategic foresight for the design and implementation of policies for the years to come.

The unprecedented challenge of negotiating a new partnership with the United Kingdom distinguishes the CWP 2020 from previous work programmes.

Based on the CWP 2020, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council will now start discussions with a view to establishing a list of joint legislative priorities on which co-legislators agree to take swift action.


Read the complete briefing on ‘European Commission Work Programme for 2020‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2020/02/12/european-commission-work-programme-for-2020/