Месечни архиви: November 2015

COP21: Good intentions and geopolitical realities clash over the climate

Written by Clare Ferguson
Climate Summit In Paris [What Think Tanks Are Thinking]

© 21st United Nations Conference on Climate Change

Two hundred countries’ representatives will meet in Paris from 30 November to 11 December 2015 to negotiate climate change commitments aiming to bring the world closer to a maximum 2°C rise in global temperatures. Divergent views abound on the priorities, and the bottom lines, of what should – and what can – be achieved. While experts differ on the likely outcomes, it remains to be seen whether the Conference will reach the level of agreement which escaped the grasp of the Copenhagen conference six years ago.

The road to Paris is paved not only with good intentions, but also with a few hefty doses of Realpolitik. Geopolitical realities mean that climate-related issues come up in practically all areas of policy, from energy to economics, from culture to citizens’ rights. Population stresses on water resources are a good example of the tensions resulting from environmental strain. Indeed, the UN integrated environmental concerns in the 2030 Agenda‘s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, and countries which developed economically in the past at the expense of the environment today are expected to support those less developed, by allowing greater emissions margins and financing assistance for economic adaptation. Yet, issues remain regarding which countries are considered as ‘developed’ and ‘developing’, leading to some significant imbalances.

Major world economies are dependent on fossil fuels, with their attendant levels of greenhouse gas emissions, and the major players, the USA, Russia, China and the EU, come to the COP21 table with greatly differing points of view.

The Russian attitude to climate change and the country’s tendency to use the issue as a negotiating tool in geopolitical positioning mean that expectations of Russia are low, yet the country is an important player in climate change and energy policies. Russian emissions are high, coming mostly from energy production, and are increasing, despite post-Soviet economic decline. It is unlikely that Russia will participate in the conference in the same spirit as other countries, despite its reliance on fossil fuels. Russia has proposed a particularly unambitious ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contribution’ (INDC) target of 70-75% of its 1990 level of emissions by 2030 – a level in fact above today’s.

China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, is likewise little inclined to sacrifice its economic growth in favour of commitments to emissions reduction. The country has so far failed to make unequivocal pledges and in any case will not contribute sufficiently to the, now considered unrealistic, 2°C goal. China’s INDC target commitment is 60-65% of 2005 level emissions by 2030.

Pacific Islands Forum partners Australia and New Zealand are both high-volume consumers of fossil fuels, and high emitters. Australia is the world’s largest producer of coal. Yet, the consequences of global warming in the region cannot be ignored, as for the Pacific Islands, COP21 is no talking shop but an actual matter of life and death. The islands’ populations increasingly suffer the immediate effects of climate change: weather-related disasters, rising sea levels and coastal erosion. New Zealand’s INDC target is currently 30% below 2005 levels, and Australia’s at least 26%, by 2030.

Brazil, on the other hand, is something of a developing world star on the climate change front, with high reliance on renewable energy sources and an active policy on deforestation leading to a reduction in CO2 emissions of over 40% between 2005 and 2012. Brazil has committed to reduce emissions by 37% (compared to 2005 levels) by 2025.

The issue of climate change is approached in very different ways in the EU and the USA, with no significant climate change legislation being passed in the States for the past ten years. Despite significant reductions in emissions, the US will be hard-pressed to achieve its 2020 reduction pledge, whereas the EU has already more than achieved its goals for 2020, having reduced its GHG emissions by 23% between 1990 and 2014. The EU and US also differ in their position on the COP21 negotiations; the US preferring more ambitious yet voluntary contributions, while the EU would prefer binding mitigation commitments. The USA intends to reduce its GHG emissions by 26-28% below its 2005 level by 2025.

And what about the EU stance on climate change? EU institutions agree on the core principles for a new universal climate agreement: it should be legally binding, transparent, accountable, and flexible, so that targets can be raised as countries work towards emissions reduction. However, the European Parliament favours a more ambitious EU climate policy, criticising the European Commission proposals as ‘short-sighted and unambitious’. Parliament would prefer a higher EU target for 2030 of a minimum of 30% market share for renewables, with improvements in energy efficiency of 40%, and a phasing out of carbon emissions globally by 2050.

Whether or not the outcome of the COP21 Conference on Climate Change is considered a success, the scale of the talks will have had one, undeniably positive, effect. COP21 has put action on climate adaptation, a major source of inequality and pursuant global consequences, back at the top of the international agenda.

Further reading

 

Source Article from http://epthinktank.eu/2015/11/30/cop21-good-intentions-and-geopolitical-realities-clash-over-the-climate/

Negotiating a new UN climate agreement: Challenges for the Paris climate change conference

Written by Gregor Erbach
CO2 globe

Fotolia

A new international agreement to combat climate change is due to be adopted in December 2015 at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The current climate agreements commit developed countries to take climate action, but not developing countries, some of which have become major emitters of greenhouse gases. After the 2009 Copenhagen climate conference failed to adopt a new agreement, the 2011 Durban conference decided that a new agreement applicable to all countries should be concluded in 2015, and enter into force in 2020.

The 20th Conference of Parties, which was held in Lima in December 2014, concluded with the adoption of the Lima Call for Climate Action, a document that invites all Parties (countries) to communicate their intended nationally determined contributions (INDC) for post-2020 climate action well before the Paris conference.

In the course of 2015, the vast majority of Parties submitted an INDC. The EU INDC commits to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. The US and China – the world’s major emitters – submitted targets that are less ambitious, but still considered as important building blocks to a climate agreement with global reach. Analysis of the submitted INDCs by the UNFCCC secretariat and other organisations found that greater emissions reductions are needed to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, the target agreed in the 2009 Copenhagen Accord.

The draft UNFCCC negotiating text from October 2015 leaves a number of important issues unresolved, notably the legal form of the agreement. While some negotiators favour a strong, legally binding agreement, others prefer a bottom-up approach based on voluntary contributions. Moreover, issues of fairness and equity need to be addressed, acknowledging that developed countries have a greater historical responsibility for climate change and stronger capacity for taking action. Processes for monitoring, reporting and verification of national contributions will also have to be agreed. Finally, the question of climate finance is of major importance for developing countries.

The ongoing negotiations present EU climate diplomacy with new challenges as regards shaping the Paris agreement, and once the Paris conference is over, to building collaborations with partners worldwide.

The probable shift from a legally binding environmental treaty towards a ‘soft’ agreement based on national contributions presents both risks and opportunities. Continued engagement with international partners is needed to achieve the transformations in economies and energy systems required to make sure that the risks of global warming remain manageable.


This is a revised and updated version of a publication from March 2015.


 

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Source Article from http://epthinktank.eu/2015/11/30/negotiating-a-new-un-climate-agreement-challenges-for-the-paris-climate-change-conference/

Humanitarian Aid

Written by Alina Dobreva
World Globe in hands

All / Fotolia

EU Humanitarian Aid (HA) provides a needs-based emergency response to natural disasters and man-made crises outside the EU, in order to save lives, prevent and alleviate human suffering, and protect the human dignity of affected populations. It provides relief regardless of recipients’ nationality, religion, gender or ethnic origin, and based on the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence.

The budget allocated to HA for the entire 2014-2020 period amounts to over €6 billion (for 2015, it is €928.84 million), but because crises are unpredictable, the budgetary allocations for HA expenditure are often amended. For example, in 2015, additional funds were allocated to address the consequences of the conflict in Syria. The EU, together with its Member States, is the world’s leading donor of humanitarian aid, although the funds allocated to it amount to less than 1% of the EU’s annual budget. The main types of assistance include food; water, sanitation, and hygiene assistance; health care; emergency shelter; and protective humanitarian assistance aimed at reducing the risk of, and mitigating the impact of, violence, coercion, deprivation and abuse, in the context of humanitarian crises.

Humanitarian emergencies are increasing in both number and complexity. Greater demands are placed on the budget due to the combined effects of climate change, population growth putting pressure on natural resources, a rising number of fragile states at risk of instability and civil conflicts, an increased threat of terrorist attacks, and a large number of man-made crises resulting from armed and military conflicts.

According to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), humanitarian aid is a shared competence between the EU and its Member States. The European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid expresses the EU’s firm commitment to humanitarian aid, and guarantees coordination and consistency in the way it is delivered, confirming the leading role of the European Commission as coordinator. The EU, together with its Member States, is the leading donor because of the broad geographical scope of its HA, the amount of money allocated, and the setting of standards related to aid provision.

The operational part of HA is not implemented by third country governments, but by over 200 partner relief organisations, including specialised Member State agencies, UN agencies, international organisations, and NGOs, who collaborate on the basis of individual Framework Partnership Agreements.

Read the complete publication on ‘How the EU budget is spent: Humanitarian Aid‘ in PDF.

Source Article from http://epthinktank.eu/2015/11/30/humanitarian-aid/

COP21 and Agenda 2030: The challenges of complementarity

Written by Marta Latek
COP21 and Agenda 2030 The challenges of complementarity

© kriss75 / Fotolia.

The interaction of climate change and development has found full recognition in the Agenda 2030 programme adopted in September 2015. The new universal policy framework integrates the global environmental and development concerns in a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) The Paris agreement due to be adopted in early December is expected to complete this integration, addressing both key global environmental threats – climate change – and their development related concerns. Tensions between north and south have long been the main fault-line preventing progress in this matter. Although positions have been converging, in particular towards inclusion of strong adaptation support for developing countries and the legally binding character of the agreement, divergences remain on issues such as contribution to mitigation and adaptation finance for emerging economies and the mitigation effort of developing countries. At the heart of the problem is the perception of the relative responsibility of developing countries in climate change and their right to development, which mitigation efforts may undermine. Whether the Paris climate summit succeeds in reaching a legally binding agreement on emission reduction targets or not, supported in particular by the EU, the summit will be an opportunity to catalyse global action on inevitable climate adaptation. It will provide a platform for financial solidarity between rich countries, source of the lion’s share of historical emissions responsible for climate change, and poor countries which suffer its worst immediate consequences.

Read the complete Briefing on ‘COP21 and Agenda 2030: The challenges of complementarity‘ in PDF.

 

Source Article from http://epthinktank.eu/2015/11/28/cop21-and-agenda-2030-the-challenges-of-complementarity/

Climate summit in Paris [What Think Tanks are thinking]

Written by Marcin Grajewski
Climate Summit In Paris [What Think Tanks Are Thinking]

© 21st United Nations Conference on Climate Change

Leaders and representatives from nearly 200 countries will meet in Paris from 30 November to 11 December in an attempt to reach a global agreement to tackle climate change and its impacts. The main aim of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as COP 21, is to achieve an outcome that would limit greenhouse gas emissions, drive a low-carbon transformation of the global economy, build resilience to the impacts of climate change, and assist climate action in developing countries.

The EU’s climate policy is among the most ambitious in the world. The EU is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, while improving energy efficiency by 27% and increasing the share of renewable energy sources to 27% of final consumption.

This ‘At a glance’ note brings together recent commentaries, analyses and studies by major international think tanks on climate policies and efforts to reach a climate agreement in Paris.

A close call before Paris
Centre for European Policy Studies, November 2015

Economics, not policy, are likely to drive the low carbon future
Friends of Europe, November 2015

Prospects for climate success in Paris
Chatham House, November 2015

Paris climate talks Q&A
Center for Climate for Energy Solutions, November 2015

A transformative end to the year
Brookings Institution, November 2015

The economic debates behind COP21
Bruegel, November 2015

Towards a workable and effective climate regime
Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations, November 2015

The road from Paris
Brookings Institution, November 2015

Mitigation value, networked carbon markets and the Paris Climate Change Agreement
Centre for European Policy Studies, October 2015

Intended nationally determined contributions: What are the implications for greenhouse gas emissions in 2030?
Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, October 2015

Climate success in Paris: The buildings sector’s key role
Friends of Europe, October 2015

COP21: Building an unprecedented and sustainable agreement
Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations, October 2015

A European approach to climate finance will make a deal at COP21 more likely
Bruegel, October 2015

Paris Stress Test: Can the UN climate talks deliver?
Finnish Institute of International Affairs, October 2015

European climate finance: Securing the best return
Bruegel, September 2015

2015 Climate negotiations: speeding up or slowing down the energy transition?
Notre Europe-Jacques Delors Institute, September 2015

The EU’s new climate target: Contribution to a successful deal in Paris
Polish Institute of International Affairs, September 2015

On the road to Paris: How can the EU avoid failure at the UN climate change conference (COP21)?
Istituto Affari Internazionali, September 2015

The road to Paris and beyond
Center for Climate Change Economics and Policy, August 2015

Making low-carbon technology support smarter
Bruegel, August 2015

Clash between national and EU climate policies: The German climate levy as a remedy?
Institut für Weltwirtschaft Kiel, August 2015

EU climate and energy governance: There’s more to it than meets the eye
Centre for European Policy Studies, August 2015

Mehr Kohärenz beim Klimaschutz – Ziele und Mittel in der EU und in Deutschland besser abstimmen
Centrum für Europäische Politik, August 2015

The final U.S. clean power plan
Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), August 2015

Reform des Emissionshandels: Vier Kernanforderungen
Centrum für Europäische Politik, July 2015

Options for the legal form of the Paris outcome
International Institute for Environment and Development, July 2015

Vision for Paris: Building an effective climate agreement
Center for Climate and Energy Solution, July 2015

International climate cooperation is critical, but not for the reasons you might think
Foundation for European Progressive Studies, July 2015

Low carbon transport fuel policy for Europe post 2020
Institute for European Environmental Policy, July 2015

The EU’s INDC and its contribution to a successful deal in Paris 2015
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, June 2015

An effective governance system for 2030 EU climate and energy policy
Ecologic Institute, June 2015

Financing climate actions: Key to a Paris agreement?
Polish Institute of International Affairs, June 2015

Vision for Paris: Building an effective climate agreement
Center for Climate and Energy Solution, June 2015

From Bonn to Paris: Navigating the course to an effective international climate agreement
Center for American Progress, June 2015

The Emission Trading Scheme reform: Will the Commission’s proposal save the system?
European Policy Centre, May 2015

Addressing adaptation in a 2015 climate agreement
Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, June 2015

The EU and the Paris Climate Agreement
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, May 2015

International climate negotiations glossary
Center for International and Strategic Studies, May 2015

Paris 2015: What’s in it for the EU?
Centre for European Policy Studies, May 2015

China’s coming of age on climate change: Just in time for Paris?
Institut français des relations internationales, May 2015

Legal options for U.S. acceptance of a new climate change agreement
Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, May 2015.

Source Article from http://epthinktank.eu/2015/11/27/climate-summit-in-paris-what-think-tanks-are-thinking/

Outlook for the 29 November 2015 meeting of the Heads of State or Government of the EU with Turkey

Written by Ralf Drachenberg

Heads of State or Government from the EU and the Republic of Turkey[1] will meet on 29 November 2015 in Brussels to further strengthen EU-Turkey relations while discussing the management of the ongoing migration crisis. The meeting is expected to result in a number of political and financial commitments, including the finalisation of the Joint Action Plan on support of refugees and migration management, the acceleration of the visa liberalisation process with Turkey and the opening of more negotiation chapters in the accession process.

Background

EU and Turkey flag

rolfik / Shutterstock

Since the emergence of the recent migration crisis in Europe, consecutive European Council meetings on migration have stressed the need for greater cooperation with third countries to manage the crisis, including deeper cooperation with Turkey. Reinforcing dialogue with Turkey at all levels, in order to reduce and manage migratory flows was an outcome of the Extraordinary European Council of 23 September 2015; whilst stepping up cooperation with Turkey on the migration crisis was on the agenda of European Council meetings in October and November 2015.  At their informal 12 November 2015 meeting on migration in Valletta EU Leaders decided to organise a special summit between the EU and Turkey, addressing migration, before the end of the year. European Council President Donald Tusk’s invitation letter for the meeting, now scheduled for 29 November, specifies that its aim is the adoption of the joint EU-Turkey Action Plan, a draft of which was already endorsed by the 15 October 2015 European Council.

Expected outcomes

One of the main EU actions under the joint action plan – proposed by the European Commission -will be the establishment of a Turkey Refugee Grant Facility. This instrument will mobilise funds to help Turkey receive and host refugees. It is expected that a total of three billion euro will be allocated over the next two years, and that it will be funded by both the EU budget and the Member States[2]. The meeting is likely to reiterate the call to accelerate the visa liberalisation process with Turkey.

European Council President Donald Tusk stressed that ‘the meeting will mark an important step in developing [EU-Turkey] relations and contribute to managing the migration crisis’. It is expected that the EU-Turkey summit will also re-energize the enlargement process and lead to the opening of further chapters in the negotiation process for Turkish EU Membership.

Views and opinions

MEPs expressed concerns relating to Turkey’s respect for human rights and with regard to the proposal to classify Turkey as a safe country.

Relations between Turkey and Russia

The shooting down of a Russian bomber jet allegedly violating Turkish airspace on 23 November 2015 may undoubtedly be discussed at the meeting. The incident has already led French President François Hollande to abandon his plans to include Russia in an international coalition against Islamic State. The European Parliament also addressed Turkish-Russian relations in the context of the plenary discussion on the outcome of the Valletta Summit of 11/12 November 2015 and of the G20 summit of 15/16 November 2015.


[1] The official invitation was addressed to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, but may be replaced by the Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

[2] Discussions on the exact division of contributions between the EU budget and individual Member States are ongoing.


Download this publication on ‘Outlook for the 29 November 2015 meeting of the Heads of State or Government of the EU with Turkey‘ in PDF.

Source Article from http://epthinktank.eu/2015/11/27/outlook-for-the-29-november-2015-meeting-of-the-heads-of-state-or-government-of-the-eu-with-turkey/

The History of European electoral reform and the European Elections Act

Written by Wilhelm Lehmann
' The History of European electoral reform and the European Elections Act 1976 '

Ramón Luis Valcárcel, Vice-President

Next year, the entry into force of the Electoral Act (or Act Concerning the Election of the Representatives of the European Parliament by Direct Universal Suffrage in full), will mark its 40th anniversary. The Act laid the legal foundation for holding the first direct elections to the European Parliament, in June 1979. In retrospect, it is more than obvious that the direct elections have changed the character of the assembly quite radically and emboldened its Members to fight for increased democratic legitimacy, stronger legislative powers, and greater oversight of other EU institutions.

The event that took place in the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) Library Reading Room on Monday, 16 November 2015, was the third in a series of conferences jointly organised by EPRS and the European University Institute in Florence. These events usually take place in Florence in spring and in Brussels in the autumn. The conference aimed to refresh our memory of this historical step towards a European democracy. Moreover, it also linked the anniversary of the Act to current moves for further reform of the European electoral procedure. Just days before the event took place, the plenary adopted a resolution on the Reform of the Electoral Law of the European Union (2015/2035(INL)), which submits a certain number of proposals to improve the European character of EP elections and to increase voter interest.

Audio recording of the event:


http://europarl.europa.eu/EPRS/16112015_Library_event-CUT.mp3

The conference began with an introductory speech by Vice-President Ramón Luis Valcárcel Siso. In his capacity of Vice-President responsible for the Parliament’s Library, he congratulated EPRS for its series of topical events in such an elegant venue. He referred to a speech given by former MEP Altiero Spinelli in 1983, in which Spinelli stressed that decisions of a European dimension should be prepared politically through debates, electoral campaigns and compromises which demonstrate the degree of consensus called for among European citizens. Although acknowledging that today’s situation is quite different from that of 1983, the Vice-President reminded the audience that Parliament insists on holding European debates and implementing European decisions because ‘most of us are convinced that this is the only logical and effective way to deal with problems such as youth unemployment, climate change or refugees from regions torn by civil war or other catastrophes.’

' The History of European electoral reform and the European Elections Act 1976 '

‘ The History of European electoral reform and the European Elections Act 1976 ‘

In the following keynote speech David Farrell, Professor at Dublin University College and renowned expert on electoral systems and their impact on the electors, provided an overview of the various national specialties in designing ballot papers and party lists for the European elections. He underlined the crucial importance of different degrees of electoral representation in the Member States, mentioning his home country as an outlying case. Professor Farrell also suggested guidelines for the future evolution of European electoral procedures. He notably promoted more open party lists and some alignment of ballot paper design across the Member States.

Ulrike Lunacek, Vice-President responsible for European Political Parties, commented on the previous speeches, informing listeners and panellists of Parliament’s continuing efforts to achieve a more coherent European electoral procedure, both in previous terms, notably by Andrew Duff, and more recently in the Hübner-Leinen report adopted in the AFCO Committee on 28 September 2015 and in the plenary on 11 November 2015.

Ulrike Lunacek, Vice-President

Ulrike Lunacek, Vice-President

The next item on the programme was the presentation of a draft study by Olivier Costa, Professor at Sciences Po Bordeaux and the College of Europe, commissioned for the EPRS Historical Archives unit. The study deals with the political context of the European Council’s decision to introduce direct elections. Professor Costa stressed the important impact of government changes, notably in France and Germany, where President Giscard d’Estaing and Chancellor Helmut Schmidt arrived in power at almost the same time, in 1974. Without the congenial relationship between the two political leaders, the Electoral Act may have only seen the light much later. In a similar vein, the only revision of the Act, in 2002, came about after the election of Tony Blair as Prime Minister of the UK. The final version of the study will be presented in spring 2016.

The evening concluded with a panel discussion chaired by Alfredo De Feo, Director, at EPRS and currently EP Fellow at the European University Institute. The panel consisted of Andrew Duff, Visiting Fellow at the European Policy Centre and long-time advocate of electoral reform during his time as a leading Member of Parliament’s Committee on Constitutional Affairs. Andrew Duff notably reminded participants that national parties and their leaders watchany further extension of the means and resources made available to European political parties quite jealously. He also stressed that a more thorough electoral reform was probably only possible by convening another Convention.

' The History of European electoral reform and the European Elections Act 1976 '

‘ The History of European electoral reform and the European Elections Act 1976 ‘

Professor Alexander Trechsel, Head of the Department of Political and Social Sciences at the European University Institute and a distinguished expert on federalism, European democracy and electoral procedure, described the importance of modern technology as an instrument for increasing participation and debate at the European level. Using computer-based vote profiling techniques national political parties might eventually compete not only in their home states but across the Union.

Finally, Dieter Schlenker, Director of the Historical Archives of the European Union, based at the European University Institute, provided an overview of some fascinating archival stock given to the HAEU by individuals involved in electoral reform, especially at the time of the drafting and negotiation of the Electoral Act. According to him, many personal archives still await scholarly treatment.

During the conference, several background documents were made available to participants and listeners:

  • a briefing produced by the Historical Archives of the Parliament on the ’40th Anniversary of the 1976 Act on Direct Elections to the European Parliament’;
  • a compendium of archival documents produced between 1974 and 1976, produced not only in the Parliament but also in the Council and the Commission;
  • a European Added Value Assessment drawn up by DG EPRS on ‘The Reform of the Electoral Law of the European Union’ and, finally,
  • the above-mentioned draft study on ‘The history of European electoral reform and the Electoral Act 1976: Issues of democratisation and political legitimacy’, which will be completed next spring for the 40th anniversary of the Act;
  • a study by Professor Luciano Bardi and others, proposing to harmonise and Europeanise the ballot papers used in European elections; the study was recently commissioned by the Policy Department on Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs of the EP Directorate-General for Internal Policies of the Union.

Finally, the roundtable not only commemorated 40 years of electoral reform, but also provided a useful and topical reminder of the continuing need to argue and act towards more European solutions to the pressing political problems confronting the European Union. For this, a vibrant European democracy based on direct voter involvement seems indispensable.

 

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Source Article from http://epthinktank.eu/2015/11/27/the-history-of-european-electoral-reform-and-the-european-elections-act/

New context for the use of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data

Passenger name records

sdecoret / Fotolia

The directive on the use of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime (EU PNR directive) is back on the EU agenda. Citizens writing to the European Parliament expressed their concerns about the PNR’s potential impact on fundamental rights and data protection.

The Member States have been pushing for years for an EU scheme for the collection, use and retention of airline passengers’ data.

In light of the terrorist attacks in Paris on 13 November 2015, and of those in Paris and Copenhagen in early 2015, security issues have come back to the top of the political agenda. There are also concerns about the growing threat posed by Europeans returning home after fighting for the so-called ‘Islamic State’ which have given the previous rejected proposal a new boost.

On 19 November 2015, MEPs held a debate with Europol chief and Council and Commission representatives, focusing, inter alia, on the revision of the Passenger Name Record (PNR) directive’s proposal.

Evolution of the legislative proposal

Members of the Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) rejected the proposal for a PNR directive in 2013 because of concerns about the potential impact on fundamental rights and data protection.

In view of the several severe terrorist attacks on European soil, in particular the tragic events in Paris in January 2015, the European Parliament, in a joint resolution of 11 February 2015 on anti-terrorism measures, committed itself to work towards the finalisation of an EU PNR directive by the end of 2015.

At the same time, the Parliament encouraged the Council to make progress on the Data Protection package so that trilogues on both – EU PNR directive and Data Protection Package – could take place in parallel.

In its resolution of 9 July 2015 on the European Agenda on Security, the Parliament reiterated its commitment regarding the finalisation of the PNR directive, stressing that it should respect fundamental rights and data protection standards.

The relevant EP press releases of 11 February 2015 and of 15 July 2015 explain the key aspects of these resolutions.

The LIBE committee adopted its second report on EU PNR on 7 September 2015, and the proposal of the directive was debated in the Council of 8 October 2015. More information is available on the outcome of this meeting.

Progress on the EU PNR directive can be followed in the PNR procedure file.

Usage of PNR data

PNR data is information provided by air passengers in the course of ticket reservation which is held by air carriers. Its primary use by air carriers is for operational purposes (it contains information in 19 fields such as travel dates, travel itinerary, ticket information, contact details, travel agency details, means of payment used, seat number and baggage information) but it also has commercial and statistical value for the airlines.

As indicated in the explanatory statement of the LIBE committee’s above-mentioned second report, PNR data can also be used by law enforcement bodies and the proposed directive lays down harmonised rules for such measures, as well as being an effective tool to identify and track criminal and terrorist activity.

More information

Additional information on the EU Passenger Name Record proposal and explanations on what’s at stake is available on this thematic EP news webpage and in this dedicated FAQ section.

Do you have any questions on this issue or another EP-related concern? Please use our web form. You write, we answer.

Source Article from http://epthinktank.eu/2015/11/26/new-context-for-the-use-of-passenger-name-record-pnr-data/

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

Written by Rosamund Shreeves

On this year’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, this 25 November, crisis and conflict are more than ever on our minds – and on the political agenda.

As recent research from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) highlights, conflict and displacement exacerbate violence against vulnerable groups, including women. In Syria, Iraq, Libya and Nigeria, women and girls have been abducted for the purposes of sexual exploitation, forced marriage or forms of slavery. Asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants have been primary targets for traffickers able to act with impunity due to the breakdown of the rule of law. Refugee families trapped in desperate conditions and insecurity are adopting ‘negative coping strategies’, such as forced early marriages, hoping to protect their daughters from sexual violence or to escape from poverty. In the face of this increased danger of gender-based violence, the IOM has called for a proportionate, gender-sensitive humanitarian response, which systematically includes counter-trafficking strategies.

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

frikota / Fotolia

For the EU, one of the challenges will be to ensure that women and girls who come to Europe, and who may have been victims of violence, are given the protection they need. A draft report on the situation of women refugees and asylum seekers in the EU, issued this November by the European Parliament’s Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (rapporteur: Mary Honeyball, S&D, UK), gives an overview of issues refugee women must face. As well as listing the forms of gender-based violence to which this group of women is potentially subject, it gives recommendations for gender-sensitive asylum and immigration policies at all stages: refugee status determination, asylum procedures, reception and detention and social integration. The Committee is also working on a report on the gender dimension of human trafficking, which will focus, amongst other things, on the connections between trafficking and forced prostitution in EU countries and best practice when it comes to prevention. The report will also look into the implementation of Directive 2011/36/EU, the main EU instrument for preventing and combating human trafficking, which took a step forward by recognising that responses and prevention measures should be gender-specific and adopting a victim-centred approach. The supporting EU strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings, which set the priorities for action for the period 2012-16, defined a series of measures to address the gender dimension of trafficking and identified violence against women as a root cause.

Migrant women also carry with them the added burden of being victims of forms of gender-based abuse, such as FGM or honour crimes, which have only recently been recognised as occurring in the EU. As a consequence, understanding of the special nature of these crimes and reasons behind them may not have been adequate to deal with the issues effectively and, in comparison with other forms of gender-based violence, European legislation and policy is reportedly lagging behind.

Here, the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention is the first Treaty to recognise that FGM exists in Europe and that it needs to be systematically addressed. The Treaty requires states to prevent, prosecute and eliminate all forms of physical, psychological and sexual violence against women and girls, including rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment, stalking, forced abortion, forced sterilisation, honour crimes and killings, and FGM. It is also the first legally binding instrument in Europe on preventing violence against women and domestic violence.

For a number of years, the European Parliament has called for the EU and the individual Member States to ratify this Convention, which would ensure similar protection for women across the Union. In October this year, the European Commission issued an indicative roadmap for possible EU accession to the Convention, stating that EU accession would reduce violence against women and improve the health and lives of victims.

That this remains a burning issue is clear from last year’s EU-wide FRA survey, which found that violence against women and girls is still an extensive but widely under-reported human rights abuse across the EU, and one which requires renewed policy attention. As an illustration, it is estimated that one in three women in the EU has experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15. One in ten women has experienced sexual harassment or stalking through new technologies. This year’s Eurobarometer on Gender Equality shows that 59% of Europeans believe that violence against women is the gender inequality issue that should be dealt with as a priority.

Violence against women and girls is not confined to a particular culture or country or to particular groups of women within society. Whether the violence happens far away or close to home, the roots of violence against women and girls lie in persistent discrimination and inequalities, which must be tackled, as a matter of urgency.

An overall analysis of the EU legislative framework and policy initiatives on violence against women is available in the EPRS Briefing on Violence against Women in the EU: State of Play. EPRS will be publishing a series of individual briefings on harmful practices, beginning with an overview and an exploration of the issue of honour crimes.

Source Article from http://epthinktank.eu/2015/11/25/international-day-for-the-elimination-of-violence-against-women/

Trafficking in Women

Written by Anja Radjenovic
Violence against women

aradaphotography / Fotolia

Trafficking in persons for the purpose of any form of exploitation is a serious crime and a violation of human rights. According to the UNOCD Report on Trafficking in Persons women and girls account for 70 per cent of detected trafficking victims worldwide. This is due to the fact that the majority of trafficked victims (53 per cent) are trafficked for sexual exploitation, with women and girls representing 97 per cent of those victims. According to the same report, 40 per cent of victims globally are trafficked for labour, with women and girls representing over one-third of those victims.

While trafficking of women is a global phenomenon, most victims in the EU (65 per cent) come from EU Member States. Data collected on different forms of exploitation in the EU showed that the majority (69 per cent) of registered victims were trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation and that victims of this crime are predominantly female (95 per cent).

Women and girls are more vulnerable to trafficking because they are disproportionally affected by some factors which make them easy prey for traffickers. Root causes of trafficking include poverty, economic exclusion, social and gender inequality, domestic violence, armed conflicts and demand for labour and sexual services.

The EU is committed to addressing the problem of trafficking in human beings through its Directive 2011/36/EU on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting victims. The directive includes provisions on the prosecution of traffickers and prevention, placing victims at its heart. It recognizes the gender-specific character of trafficking and focuses on particularly vulnerable persons, such as women and children. The European Parliament initiated a procedure on the implementation of that directive.

Overviews

Trafficking in Women: Explore the Issue / The Advocates for Human Rights, website.
This site gives an overview defining what trafficking in women is, how common it is, and focuses on the factors that contribute to it; it also looks at protection, support and assistance of the victims; and the prevention of the trafficking in women.

Trafficking in human beings / EUROSTAT report, 2015.
This report includes statistics on the total number of victims disaggregated by gender, age and form of exploitation, and also contains statistics on victims’ citizenship and type of assistance and protection received. Moreover, the report also includes statistics on suspected, prosecuted and convicted traffickers disaggregated by gender, citizenship and form of exploitation.

Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2014 / UNODC, November 2014, 90 p.
It provides an overview of patterns and flows of human trafficking at the global, regional and national levels to support countries to respond more effectively to this crime.

The problem of human trafficking in the European Union / Piotr Bąkowski, April 2014, 8p.
Abstract: Whereas the prevalence of human trafficking in the EU is very difficult to assess, some estimates have been made on the basis of limited data. These point, among other things, to a high proportion of women among the victims of trafficking, especially as victims of sexual exploitation.

Analysis

A modern response to modern slavery / The Centre for Social Justice (with Europol support), April 2015, 92p.
This report has found that a huge amount of modern slavery in Europe is driven by Organised Crime Groups (OCGs) who profit from the exploitation of vulnerable people. These highly sophisticated illegal businesses show a detailed understanding of how to avoid detection and prosecution by Europe’s law enforcement agencies. The kind of modern slavery that is driven by OCGs involves men, women and children being moved across international and national borders through various means of transportation and deception. Criminals will exploit victims in the most profitable of ways and by the easiest of means.

Trafficking in Human Beings in the European Union – Gender, Sexual Exploitation, and Digital Communication Technologies / Donna M. Hughes, October 2014, 8 p.
Abstract: “In this article, the intersection of gender, trafficking for sexual exploitation, and use of digital communication technologies are analysed based on data from the European Union. […] This article concludes that the combination of gender, trafficking for sexual exploitation, and use of digital communication technologies has created a nexus of victimization for women and girls. Based on this analysis and other sources of information, the European region is the world’s leading region for trafficking for sexual exploitation.”

Tackling demand for sexual services of trafficked women and girls / Nusha Yonkova, Edward Keegan, Immigrant Council of Ireland, 2014, 108 p.
This report analyses and assesses efficient approaches to discourage demand for the services provided by victims of human trafficking for sexual exploitation, based on a greater understanding of experiences, attitudes and motivations of the people who purchase sex.

Identification of victims of trafficking in human beings in international protection and forced return procedures / European Migration Network study, March 2014, 46 p.
The aim of this study is to examine whether and how potential victims of trafficking in human beings are detected and identified in International Protection and Forced Return Procedures in (Member) State. Check the page for country reports, containing national statistics.

The Gendered Dimensions of Sex Trafficking / Madeleine Rees, Stanford Centre on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL), Working Paper of the Program on Human Rights N° 007, June 2012, 8 p.
Excerpt: ‘The entire trafficking cycle from beginning to end is highly gendered: from the root causes that make women vulnerable to trafficking, to the normalization and implicitness of demand, and the gendered institutional responses and policy approaches to anti-trafficking. […] In the following pages I will outline the gendered nature of the trafficking cycle and advocate a response to trafficking that is based on the lessons learnt (and re-learnt) throughout my time in Bosnia and Herzegovina.’

Trafficking in women and children as vulnerable groups: talking through theories of international relations / Usman Mikail Usman, In: European Scientific Journal, June 2014, p. 282-292.
Human trafficking is a global issue involving almost all countries. It is an issue that affects people of all ages, races, ethnicities, and gender throughout the world. This highly profitable trade poses a relatively low risk of capture or conviction when compared with trade in drugs and arms. The targets of traffickers are often children and young women, and their ploys are designed to trick, coerce and win the confidence of potential victims. The topic of this article is analysed from the perspective of International Relations theories, focusing particularly on feminist theory, absolutist theory, constructivist theory, conflict theory and trauma theory within the framework of international politics.

Stakeholder views

European Commission

Together Against Trafficking in Human Beings / European Commission.
Website includes information on legislation and case law, EU policy, publications, EU projects and funding as well as information on how each EU Member State, tackles, prevents and identifies instances of trafficking in human beings.

Mid-term report on the implementation of the EU strategy towards the eradication of trafficking in human beings / COM (2014) 635 final, 17 October 2014.
This mid-term report takes stock of how the EU Strategy has been implemented, from early 2012 to the third quarter of 2014. The report includes work carried out through cooperation between EU institutions, agencies and bodies, Member States, civil society organisations and the private sector. It covers action taken within the EU and in cooperation with non-EU countries of origin, transit and destination.

The EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings 2012–2016 / COM(2012) 286 final, 19 June 2012.
The objective of this Strategy is to provide a coherent framework for existing and planned initiatives, to set priorities, to fill gaps and complement the Directive 2011/36/EU.

European parliament

European Parliament report on sexual exploitation and prostitution and its impact on gender equality / P7_TA(2014)0162, 26 February 2014.
The Resolution draws attention to prostitution, forced prostitution and sexual exploitation and stresses that there are several links between prostitution and trafficking. It recognises that prostitution – both globally and across Europe – feeds the trafficking of vulnerable women and under-age females.

Council of the EU

Revised Draft Council Conclusions on an EU Framework for the Provision of Information on the Rights of Victims of Trafficking in Human Beings, Council of the European Union, 10966/13, 13 June 2013.
In this document the Council invites Member States to take into consideration and utilise the Commission document “The EU rights of victims of trafficking in human beings” for the purpose of drawing up specific documents with information on labour, social, victim and migrant rights that victims of trafficking in human beings have under EU law.

Council of Europe

Action against Trafficking in Human Beings / The Council of Europe, website.
Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, which entered into force on 1 February 2008, aims to prevent trafficking in human beings, protect victims of trafficking, prosecute traffickers, and promote co-ordination of national actions and international co-operation. The countries which have signed up to the Convention are monitored by the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA).

Prostitution, trafficking and modern slavery in Europe / José Mendes Bota, Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination of the CoE Parliamentary Assembly, March 2014, 24 p.
The report examines the policies on prostitution adopted in Council of Europe member States and assesses their impact on curbing trafficking in human beings.

United Nations

Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against transnational organized crime / United Nations, 2000, 12 p.
The protocol commits ratifying states to preventing and combating trafficking in persons, protecting and assisting victims of trafficking and promoting cooperation among states in order to meet those objectives.
Trafficking in Persons to Europe for sexual exploitation, From ‘The Globalization of Crime. A Transnational Organized Crime Threat Assessment, Chapter 2: Trafficking in Persons‘, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2010, 16 p. The report focuses on human trafficking victims detected in Europe. A greater variety of nationalities has been found among human trafficking victims in West and Central Europe than in any other part of the world, and most of these victims (84%) were trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

NGO, think tanks, etc.

A Guide to the Trafficking of Women / Proyecto Mujer Frontera, Barcelona 2013, 31 p.
This guide is part of the international project, Mujer Frontera (‘Border Woman’), which was launched in 2008 with the aim of empowering immigrant women who have been victims of human trafficking. It also seeks to assist and support other victims of trafficking. This guide is based on the experiences and obligations of the women both during, and following, their trafficking.

La Strada International / La Strada International (LSI) is a European NGO network against trafficking in human beings. See documentation on “trafficking in women”.

Source Article from http://epthinktank.eu/2015/11/25/trafficking-in-women-2/