Месечни архиви: ноември 2015

The Importance of Statistics in Public Health Sector Analysis

Written by Caterina Francesca Guidi and Gaby Umbach, both GlobalStat
In cooperation with Nicole Scholz, EPRS

Accurate, comprehensive, high-quality data and statistics are not only central elements of evidence-based public health policy. By raising health awareness among the general public, they can also help achieve better social and health outcomes and reduce health inequalities.

The health policy landscape in the European Union (EU): diversity, variety, disparities

Due to persistent economic, social and geographical diversity, the huge variety across EU Member States’ health sectors continues to result in visible disparities in health conditions within the EU. This variety, therefore, plays an important role in citizens’ perception of their particular country’s performance in delivering health services and policies.


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The Member States’ public health sectors combine public and private initiatives as well as measures adopted to promote health, prevent diseases and prolong the life of national populations. They target the whole respective populations in terms of monitoring health statuses and improving citizens’ health conditions, especially through the formulation of public policies on health determinants and priorities. By doing so, they naturally represent and reflect national and local variation of approaches across the EU.

Following the logics of this persisting diversity, the recent economic crisis had a huge, though differentiated impact on EU Member States’ public health budgets. Reflecting national priorities and preferences, the Member States are reacting in different ways to guarantee appropriate access to healthcare services, promoting health and preventing diseases also in the aftermath of the crisis. In addition to these pressures exerted by the recent economic and financial crisis, different demographic dynamics, both in terms of life expectancy and progressive ageing of the EU’s population, have pointed at adaptation requirements of national health systems. The latest migration crisis has added to these requirements for adaptation of national health systems within the EU, which the Member States will continue to face differently according to their health care traditions and welfare models.

Health statistics analysis as a tool for policy formulation

While diversity is the name of the game across EU Member States’ health sectors, a more united approach should guide the analysis of national public health performances in order to provide measurable yardsticks for the improvement of health conditions across the EU. As outlined in point 9 of the EU’s Third Health Programme (2014-2020), innovation in health plays an essential role and should not be ‘limited to technological advances in terms of products and services’. What is also required to improve standards and outcomes of national health systems within the EU is enhanced innovation in ‘health system management and in the organisation and provision of health services and medical care […] to improve public health outcomes, enhance the quality of care to patients and respond to unmet needs’.

In terms of the political process, these demands required the improvement of evidence-based policy-making through increased data analysis and the integration of analytical statistical techniques into public health research. The preparation of evidence-based public health policies is therefore a strong desideratum to improve insight into the need for policy adaption across the EU. This even more so, as these new analytical instruments hold the potential to stimulate the development of relevant new tools that embrace insights from different disciplines such as epidemiology, health economics and social sciences into public policy-making. The analysis of health statistics, hence, should become even more vital for policy-makers in order to go beyond broad political arguments and to contextualise aspects of public health. Health statistics provide the objective evidence required for policy projection as well as for the sustainable formulation of public policies and help to conceptualise abstract concepts such as health inequalities, social determinants, policies implementation and epidemiological tendencies.

In a world of complexity and increasing change, deconstructing such phenomena remains central to provide the full picture of reality and to analyse properly the efforts required to promote public health. Finding ways to merge qualitative and quantitative assessments thus becomes ever more important also within the public health domain.

Providing essential health and social data

Within the universe of official data providers FAO, IEA, ILO, ITU, OECD, WHO, World Bank, UNDESA, UNDP, UNICEF, and UNHabitat are only some of the International Organisations that are essential in elaborating, providing and spreading data considered central in the public health sphere. Within GlobalStat, an entire area is dedicated to health. The theme Health & Living Conditions is divided into the four sub-themes Health, Poverty, Urban Development and Transportation & Infrastructure. Data are provided for 193 nation states and different geographical and geopolitical aggregates from 1960 onwards whenever possible.

The sub-theme Health provides data for birth, death, mortality rates and life expectancies, which offer an in-depth perspective on basic health inequalities between countries within the EU and across the world. Within the sub-theme Poverty GlobalStat reports indexes related to material deprivation, while under Urban Development you can find worldwide population changes in cities mainly due to the urban bias. Last, but not least our Transportation & Infrastructure section reports on measures linked to ICT diffusion, an aspect relevant for the provision of the health care and central in solving public health issues.

More awareness, better health

Raising health awareness across the population is a key means of fostering better social and health outcomes. It helps raise insight into the need of improving health statuses and well-being, reducing health inequalities and strengthening the public health sectors through direct actions of governments. GlobalStat seeks to add to this increase in awareness by granting access to key measures, evidence and statistics within the health sector.

Start exploring GlobalStat.

Source Article from http://epthinktank.eu/2015/11/25/the-importance-of-statistics-in-public-health-sector-analysis/

How can technologies re-shape healthcare in Europe?

Workshop hashtag: #ehealthSTOA

STOA website & registration


Written by Nera Kuljanic and Liliana Cunha
How can technologies re-shape healthcare in Europe?

Shutterstock/Mega Pixel

The demand for healthcare services is growing fast in Europe, partly due to the ageing population and the higher prevalence of chronic diseases. E-Health, defined by the WHO as ‘the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) for health’, is seen as one of the means for addressing these needs and reinventing the healthcare systems. It can be employed in conducting research, educating and training health professionals, preventing, diagnosing and treating diseases and monitoring public health, for example. E-Health is recognised as one of the building blocks of the EU health policy.

The Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) Panel of the European Parliament is organizing a workshop on this topic on 1 December 2015. The event will be chaired by Eva Kaili, MEP and STOA Vice-Chair, and moderated by John Bowis, former MEP (1999-2009) and UK Health Minister (1993-1996).

The topic of ‘health and new technologies in the life sciences’ is one of the thematic priorities of the STOA Panel and a number of projects and events requested by the Panel under this heading took place in the past years. Most recently, on 1 July 2015 a debate took place on how technologies can improve patients’ health literacy, and a study looking into the use of ICT in the health sector in low and middle-income countries is about to be published.

What to expect?

The workshop intends to build on the lessons learned by healthcare organisations across Europe from the deployment of ICT to define what kind of policy support, and at which level (national, regional or the EU), is needed to overcome the bottlenecks that prevent a more intensive application of eHealth in Europe.

Opening the workshop, Pēteris Zilgalvis from DG CONNECT, European Commission will set the scene with a talk on key trends and developments in eHealth in Europe, after which specific experiences from three Member States will be presented. Lambis Platsis from Greece will talk about setting up an eHealth network in the context of the Aegean healthcare system, Claudio Saccavini from Italy will present the pilot project on the use of eHealth for congestive heart failure in the Veneto region in Italy, and Stanislav Pušnik from Slovenia will talk about deploying eHealth for coaching people with diabetes.

The second part of the workshop includes presentations on some of the challenges for the deployment of eHealth in Europe, especially concerning the provision of routine healthcare (Alexander Hörbst, Austria) and perceptions of patients and medical professionals (Wendy L. Currie, France), but also related to policy-making and research (Frode Gallefoss, Norway). The discussion will offer an opportunity to identify barriers to, and opportunities for devising strategies and interventions to improve the use of eHealth in Europe.

Building on this, in the third session MEP Eva Kaili will share, in a discussion with the experts and the audience, their views on priorities for eHealth and related EU policies.

Click here for more information and to watch the workshop via webstreaming.

Source Article from http://epthinktank.eu/2015/11/24/how-can-technologies-re-shape-healthcare-in-europe/

EU Institutions and non-confessional organisations on education and culture to counter violent extremism

Written by Denise Chircop
Teenage Boy Feeling Intimidated

© highwaystarz / Fotolia

On 17 November 2015, EP President Martin Schulz and Vice-President Antonio Tajani hosted a dialogue with philosophical and non-confessional organisations on the theme ‘How can education contribute to tackle radicalism and fundamentalism in Europe?’ The event took place within the framework of Article 17 TFEU, which commits the EU institutions to intercultural dialogue with churches and non-confessional organisations.

In his opening remarks, Vice-President Tajani emphasised that Europe embodies the basic civic and humanist values of freedom and acceptance and that we must be firm on this. Making reference to the very recent attacks in Paris, he said that Europe should not become inward looking; to be truly free we must not succumb to terror. He referred to schools as places where young people learn how to live and work with each other. Ideas should be discussed to give pupils the necessary skills to challenge prejudice and violent extremism themselves. Cultural and sports activities too can develop familiarity and openness. EU tools such as the strategic framework Education and Training 2020 and EU funding for Creative Europe and Erasmus+ need to be addressed in this direction.

In her opening remarks, the chair of the EP’s Committee on Culture and Education, Silvia Costa, noted that terrorists attacking Europe are often born and educated in Europe. Whereas poverty and social exclusion are important factors, better educated young people are not immune to recruitment. Neither can violent extremism be linked exclusively to religions as political extremism can also be violent. Terrorists consistently target culture to destabilise and dehumanise us and this can be countered by an ‘education of empathy’. Voluntary work and mobility are good examples, as they offer young people the opportunity to share different ways of living and thinking. Intercultural dialogue too plays a crucial role in promoting social cohesion and acceptance. At the same time, cooperation between formal and non-formal educational systems needs to be enhanced and extended to include families. She appealed for stronger cultural diplomacy including the Euro-Mediterranean dialogue and giving third country nationals the possibility to study in Europe.

Julie Ward (UK, S&D) rapporteur on the role of intercultural dialogue, cultural diversity and education on promoting EU fundamental values spoke of her work as an artist and an educator with young people. She noticed that those who were unaccustomed to other cultures progressed from fear to self-confidence and later became successful leaders in their communities. She pointed out that culture is never fixed and history and heritage are not tools for division. Knowledge of the past helps us build a better future. Arts-based educational programmes offer young people excellent opportunities to address conflicts. Educational efforts need to encompass the adult population as well.

Other speakers defended the notion of a secular society, claiming that this was not another dogmatic stance. The separation of the religious and political spheres ensured basic equality. They acknowledged that some immigrants might not share our notions of gender equality, human rights, individual freedom or scientific knowledge. Nonetheless, all children need to receive this type of education and adults need to be made aware that this is what we stand for. Open discussions are important to avoid feelings of rejection and antagonism. Some speakers, however, claimed that teachers admitted they were not sufficiently prepared for these difficult conversations.

Concerns were voiced about religious teaching in schools as a factor of segregation. Some participants favoured common classes about ethics, religions and their history. Others pointed out the need to sensitise religious leaders to European values by forming them within a formal educational set-up in Europe.

The role of media, particularly the internet, was stressed. Networking tools are used very efficiently by terrorists, but they also provide young people with opportunities to express their identities, concerns and frustrations and be heard by society.

We have explored these issues further in our short publications on the dialogue between the EU institutions and non-confessional organisations and on the role of education and intercultural dialogue as tools against radicalisation

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Source Article from http://epthinktank.eu/2015/11/24/eu-institutions-and-non-confessional-organisations-on-education-and-culture-to-counter-violent-extremism/

Fingerprinting migrants: Eurodac Regulation

Written by Anita Orav

Eurodac is a biometric database in which Member States are required to enter the fingerprint data of irregular migrants or asylum-seekers in order to identify where they entered the EU, and whether they have previously made asylum applications. Its main purpose is to facilitate the application of the Dublin Regulation, which determines the Member State responsible for processing an asylum claim. The recast Eurodac Regulation has been applicable since 20 July 2015.

Part of the Dublin system


© pietrowsky / Fotolia

The Eurodac Regulation was first adopted in 2000 and revised in 2013 to improve the compatibility of the system with the recast EU asylum acquis, including the Dublin III Regulation, and to help complete the Common European Asylum System (CEAS). The recast Regulation applies automatically to 25 EU Member States (all except UK, Ireland and Denmark). However, the UK opted in prior to adoption, while Ireland opted in in 2014. Denmark does not participate in adoption of legislation in this area, but has a separate agreement with the EU to apply the original Eurodac Regulation.

Participating states are required to ‘promptly’ fingerprint all persons over the age of 14 who fall into one of the following three categories:

  • applicants for international protection (Art. 9);
  • third country nationals or stateless persons crossing the external border irregularly (Art. 14);
  • third country nationals or stateless persons found illegally staying in a Member State (Art. 17).

In contrast to the first two categories, registering fingerprints of migrants from the third category is not mandatory. The Regulation establishes common procedures and standards but does not deal with enforcement. This is regulated under national legislation, ensuring not only compliance with the Regulation, but also with fundamental rights obligations resulting from EU and international law, in particular with the European Convention on Human Rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Among other modifications, the recast Eurodac Regulation No 603/2013 now allows national police forces and Europol to access Eurodac data for the purposes of preventing, detecting and investigating serious crimes and terrorism. However, the special agreements on the basis of which Denmark, as well as four Dublin Associated Countries (Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein), participates in the Dublin and Eurodac Regulations currently only cover asylum-based purposes, although the Commission has proposed opening negotiations with the countries concerned to also allow law enforcement access to their data.

In response to the increasing migratory pressures in frontline Member States, the Commission has proposed a so-called ‘hotspot‘ system engaging the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), Frontex and Europol to provide operational support for identification, registration and fingerprinting of migrants on the ground. In June 2015, the European Council gave its green light to setting up the reception facilities which are already under way: six ‘hotspots’ have been addressed in Italy and five in Greece. The Commission asserts that setting up the facilities will be completed by the end of November 2015.

Failure to fingerprint

The lack of systematic fingerprinting in some countries can be related to the lack of capacity in view of large flows of migrants. Greek authorities suggest that more than a third of migrants arriving on Lesbos, Kos and other islands are not fingerprinted. German police also confirm they lack resources to fingerprint all arriving migrants. Arrival countries’ inability or unwillingness to meet the legal requirement of fingerprinting has led to a situation where asylum-seekers who move on within the Schengen area to reach other countries may not be identified. An additional aspect is the high number of applicants refusing to have their fingerprints taken, or intentionally damaging their fingerprints to avoid identification, as evidenced by the 2014 Annual Report on Eurodac. The reason could be either fear and mistrust of authorities, or a wish only to be first registered in a country with higher recognition rates or in which they have family and community ties. Such secondary movements undermine the proper functioning of the CEAS, but it can be considered that both Member States and the migrants have incentives to evade the procedures.

Contentious aspects

Use of detention and coercion

In light of the developing migratory pressure, on 27 May 2015 the Commission published a staff working document on Implementation of the Eurodac Regulation, which was endorsed by the Council on 20 July 2015. The document provides guidelines for Member States to follow a common approach for fingerprinting, which encompasses counselling and informing applicants of their rights and obligations, but also specifies that ‘if applicants do not cooperate…, Member States should make use of specific and limited use of detention, and use coercion as last resort’. This suggestion is based on a 2014 ad hoc query on Eurodac fingerprinting published by the European Migration Network (EMN) on laws and practices used in Member States. While most (18 out of 28) do not allow the use of force or coercion for asylum-seekers (category 1), the situation is more varied for irregular migrants (categories 2 and 3), with several allowing for the use of coercion, detention or both.

The recommendation has met with objections from human-rights activists. Statewatch, as well as other commentators heavily criticise coercive fingerprinting of migrants, with the only potential exception in the guidelines for children and pregnant women. The EU’s Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) finds it ‘difficult to imagine a situation where the use of physical or psychological force to obtain fingerprints for Eurodac would be justified’. The European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) observes that ‘taking fingerprints is not necessarily a condition for applying the Dublin Regulation, since other circumstantial evidence can also be used’. Some countries have, indeed, already resorted to other methods of identification, such as multispectral imaging. It should be noted that the Commission working document does envisage exploring the use of other biometric identifiers in the future.

Moreover, allowing detention of migrants who refuse to be fingerprinted also raises concerns. Article 8(3)(a) of the recast Reception Conditions Directive, in force since 20 July 2015, specifically permits the use of detention to determine or verify the identity or nationality of an applicant. However, ECRE remarks that Eurodac only contains information on the applicant’s set of fingerprints and sex, which on their own do not allow the applicant’s identity or nationality to be established or verified.

Data protection

Concerning law enforcement access under the recast Eurodac Regulation, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EPDS) points to possible purpose limitation and function creep. He also questions the necessity and proportionality of law enforcement access, and warns against potential unequal treatment between asylum-seekers and other individuals. This concern is shared by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which comments that it would ‘further risk putting persons seeking international protection at risk of stigmatisation’. The use of databases leading to potential discrimination for lack of proportionality has also been condemned by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in 2008 in the S.and Marper case.

Parliamentary analysis

Seeking solutions to the growing migratory pressure, a study for the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) Committee, on ‘Enhancing the Common European Asylum System and alternatives to Dublin’, was published in June 2015. The study notes that ‘coercive methods for securing fingerprinting raise serious legal, practical, and ethical concerns’, and refers to the findings of a previous 2014 study, which considered it also to be a ‘source of costs, delay and avoidance’.

On 23 September 2015, the LIBE Committee organised an Interparliamentary Committee Meeting feeding into the Parliament’s work on the strategic own-initiative report on ‘The situation in the Mediterranean and the need for a holistic EU approach to migration’ (co-rapporteurs: Roberta Metsola, EPP, Malta, and Kashetu Kyenge, S&D, Italy). The meeting allowed members of the national parliaments of all Member States to hold an in-depth discussion with EU agencies such as EASO, Frontex and Europol on the ‘hotspot’ approach, including on the registration and fingerprinting of migrants.

Download this publication on ‘Fingerprinting migrants: Eurodac Regulation‘ in PDF.

Source Article from http://epthinktank.eu/2015/11/23/fingerprinting-migrants-eurodac-regulation/

Migration: An unprecedented challenge to the EU

Written by Richard Freedman

The EU is facing one of its greatest challenges since its foundations in the 1950s. People of all ages are migrating in unprecedented numbers from war-torn and unstable regions, such as Syria, Iraq, and Libya. According to the EU Agency Frontex, roughly 1 214 000 detections of illegal border-crossings were reported by the end of October 2015 compared with approximately 235 000 during the same period in 2014.


As set out in the EPRS briefing ‘EU legal framework on asylum and irregular immigration ‘on arrival’ State of play of March 2015‘, Legal provisions on asylum and immigration are to be found both at EU level and at Member States’ level. Moreover, the international law framework is set by the Geneva Convention and its Protocol relating to the status of refugees, currently binding 142 Contracting States. Huge political leaps forward are ongoing in order to try and tackle the crisis. From hotspots with extra resources to register immigrants to an emergency relocation system, this is one of the busiest areas of EU action.

No easy solutions on the table

Concerted action is needed to address illegal crossings of the EU external borders, not least because there are no internal borders in the Schengen area. A military operation called EUNAVFOR MED has been launched in the Southern Central Mediterranean to fight smuggling activities and help save lives of migrants exploited by the criminal networks of smugglers.

Further, in order to reduce the number of crossings, legal entry channels to the EU could be proposed for persons in need of international protection. These include a possibility to trigger the so-called Temporary Protection Directive, as well as making use of ‘humanitarian admissions’ and ‘humanitarian visas’ and private sponsorship.

In addition to actions on EU territory, solutions are sought outside Europe through cooperation with third countries. The aim is to address the root causes of irregular migration, to counter and prevent migrant smuggling and trafficking, and to provide effective return, readmission and reintegration policies for those not qualifying for protection.

Migrant flow from the Western Balkans

As part of the European Agenda on Migration, the Commission proposed on 9 September 2015 to establish a common EU list of safe countries of origin, initially comprising Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey.

Hands Holding Immigration Word Concept

Rawpixel.com / Fotolia

In light of the large number of asylum applications received from the citizens of Western Balkans regardless of the low recognition rates across the EU, this would enable fast-tracking of asylum applications from citizens of these countries, which are considered ‘safe’ according to the criteria set out in the Asylum Procedures Directive and in full compliance with the principle of non-refoulement. Non-refoulement means that ‘no Contracting State shall expel or return (refouler) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion’.

Currently, these safe lists are defined at national level and not coordinated, which can lead to different recognition rates of similar asylum applications and the incentive to apply for asylum in Member States with higher recognition rates. The EPRS briefing of October 2015 sets out more information.

European Parliament action

The European Parliament has shown support to alleviate the migratory pressure in the Member States. In a resolution adopted on 10 September 2015, the European Parliament supported allocating an extra €401.3 million in EU funding to tackling the refugee crisis.

On 17 September 2015, the European Parliament backed the Commission’s new proposal to relocate an additional 120,000 asylum seekers from Italy, Greece and Hungary, after having approved the first temporary emergency rules for relocating an initial 40,000 from Italy and Greece only on 9 September. The activity of the European Parliament in approving the measures in record time sent a clear signal to the EU home affairs ministers, urging the Member States to come to an agreement and take immediate action.

Migration is a huge issue facing the EU and the wider world. Escalating tensions in the Middle East and Africa are testing the EU’s reception and humanitarian capacities. The European Union is fulfilling its role by tackling the crisis both in the short and long-term. At the European Youth Event 2016 no doubt this will be one of the key topics of discussion.


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Source Article from http://epthinktank.eu/2015/11/23/migration-an-unprecedented-challenge-to-the-eu/

Climate policies in the EU and USA: Different approaches, convergent outcomes?

Written by Gregor Erbach
Climate policies in the EU and USA Different approaches, convergent outcomes?

© Axel Bueckert / Shutterstock

This briefing surveys the climate policies of the European Union and the United States and identifies both similarities and differences in their respective positions ahead of the UN climate change conference (COP21) in Paris.

Both the EU and the USA have achieved emission reductions in recent years, although the policy frameworks are rather different. The EU has a comprehensive legislative framework aiming to implement common targets agreed among its Member States. The USA has a diverse range of measures at city, state and federal level. As the US Congress has not passed major climate change legislation in the last ten years, federal rules are generally based on pre-existing legislation, notably the Clean Air Act.

Although both the EU (and its Member States) and the USA are Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, only the EU has accepted binding commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, which the USA signed, but refused to ratify.

The USA has recently entered into a series of bilateral engagements on climate change with major developing economies including China, India, Brazil and Indonesia.

In view of the upcoming climate change conference in Paris, the EU would prefer to see binding mitigation commitments for all Parties, while the USA favours non-binding nationally determined contributions. Both the EU and the USA agree on the importance of transparency, reporting and verification, and advocate a mechanism for raising levels of the Parties’ ambition over time.

Read the complete Briefing on ‘Climate policies in the EU and USA: Different approaches, convergent outcomes?‘ in PDF.


Climate policies in the EU and USA Different approaches, convergent outcomes?

GHG emissions in the EU and the US 1990-2012 and targets for 2020-30

Source Article from http://epthinktank.eu/2015/11/21/climate-policies-in-the-eu-and-usa-different-approaches-convergent-outcomes/

Outcome of the informal 12 November 2015 European Council on migration in Valletta

Written by Ralf Drachenberg and Torlach Grant

The informal European Council on migration of 12 November 2015 in Valletta assessed the state of implementation of previously agreed measures. It followed the Valletta Summit held with African Leaders on 11/12 November 2015. The Valletta Summit resulted in a Political Declaration and an Action Plan to manage migratory flows, focusing on dealing with the root causes of migration by developing greater cooperation between EU and African partners.

1. Valletta Summit on Migration with African Leaders

European Council logoThe objective of the 11/12 November 2015 Valletta Summit on migration, chaired by European Council President Donald Tusk, was to bring together European Leaders and African Heads of State or Government to address the challenges presented by the ongoing migrant crisis and explore opportunities for increased cooperation between the EU and Africa.

In the Political Declaration issued after the Summit, participants outlined their concern at the sharp increase in the movement and number of refugees, asylum seekers and irregular migrants and agreed to respond decisively by working together to manage migration flows. They recognised that there is significant interdependence between Africa and Europe, who face common challenges. They also committed to addressing the root causes of irregular migration and recognised the benefits of well-managed legal migration and mobility between the two continents. Underlining this, the European Union and Ethiopia signed a Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility in the margins of the Valletta Summit.

The Action Plan annexed to the Political Declaration addresses five priority areas dealing with the root causes of migration; enhancing cooperation on legal migration and mobility; reinforcing the protection of displaced persons; preventing and combating migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings and making progress on returning people who are not legally entitled to stay in Europe. In all, sixteen priority initiatives were agreed, to be implemented by the end of 2016.

As indicated in the EPRS Pre-European Council Briefing, an ‘EU Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa’ was launched to assist the implementation of actions agreed upon at the Valletta Summit. The Emergency Trust Fund is made up of 1.8 billion euro from European Union financing instruments as well as contributions from EU Member States and other donors. So far, twenty-five EU Member States and two non-EU donors (Norway and Switzerland) have announced a total contribution of around 81.3 million euro.

European Council President Donald Tusk remarked that leaders ‘are under no illusions that we can improve the situation overnight.’ The follow up to the Valletta Summit will include a meeting between senior officials no later than January 2017, to assess the progress being made in implementing the Action Plan.

2. Informal European Council Meeting on migration

Immediately after the Valetta Summit, the Heads of State or Government of 24 EU Member States met for an informal European Council meeting, in Valletta, on 12 November 2015. The purpose of the meeting was to expedite the implementation of previous European Council decisions on migration.

The discussions mainly concentrated on increasing cooperation between the EU and Turkey and the implementation of the EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan. Leaders were briefed by European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans on the status of negotiations following his recent visit to Turkey. The Commission made a proposal to establish a Turkey Refugee Grant Facility, which will mobilise substantial new funds to help Turkey receive and host refugees. It is expected that a total of 500 million euro from the EU budget will be allocated to this facility over the next two years. EU Member States will need to contribute a total of 2.5 billion euro.

While the European Council did not issue an official statement, European Council President Donald Tusk made remarks after the meeting summarising their discussions and what was agreed. He stated that ‘regaining control of the EU’s external borders is the first and most important action; [and serves] as a precondition for a European migration policy.’ He believes that the reintroduction of ‘border controls or “technical barriers” at the borders testify how grave the situation is’. Since September 2015, Slovenia, Germany, Austria and Sweden, have temporarily reintroduced Schengen internal border controls. On 11 November 2015, Slovenia started building a fence with Croatia and Austria announced it would build a fence with Slovenia.

In his speech at the informal European Council meeting, European Parliament President Martin Schulz emphasised that the ‘community method is the only proven way to tackle this crisis as a common European challenge.’ He also stressed that Member States need to deliver on their financial commitments, their pledges to provide expertise and staff to FRONTEX and EASO and, also, implement the decisions taken on relocation. Both Mr Tusk and Mr Juncker welcomed the recent commitment by Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary to provide 225 additional officials to FRONTEX and EASO. However, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker expressed his dissatisfaction with the relocation scheme’s rate of implementation. Since then, following the terrorist attacks in France on 13 November 2015, a member of the incoming Polish Government announced that Poland would not accept EU-mandated quotas for refugees. This has proved a setback for this scheme, after Slovakia and Hungary indicated that they will bring the issue before the European Court of Justice.

Following the informal European Council meeting, European Council President Donald Tusk recalled that EU rules and laws must be applied and that ‘without registration there will be no rights’. Furthermore, he expressed his belief that asylum seekers cannot decide where they will be granted asylum in the EU. He expects the Commission and the respective Interior Ministers to ‘turn these principles into operational reality now’.

Next steps

European Council President Donald Tusk announced that a special summit between the EU and Turkey on migration will be organised before the end of the year. According to its draft annotated agenda, the 15/16 December 2015 European Council meeting will return to the issue of migration.

Source Article from http://epthinktank.eu/2015/11/20/outcome-of-the-informal-12-november-2015-european-council-on-migration-in-valletta/

A Sombre Plenary Session

Written by Clare Ferguson
by European Parliament

by European Parliament

Members of the European Parliament will gather in Strasbourg from 23 to 26 November 2015 for the penultimate full plenary session of the year, against the sombre background of the security situation and the ongoing crises affecting Europe, Europeans, and those fleeing to European territories. The key debate, scheduled for Wednesday morning, will begin with Council and Commission statements on the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.

In the wake of the recent events, foreign policy is one route through which EU leaders are trying to tackle the problems caused in part by the escalating violence in the Middle East. On Monday, Members will discuss the EU’s role within the UN, which marks its 70th anniversary this year, with a view to enhancing the effectiveness of EU foreign policy goals. The EU’s participation rights at the UN are currently limited by its status as an observer, rather than a full member. However, considering the EU’s increasingly active participation in pursuing UN goals, in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, as well as against ISIL/Da’esh terrorists, an EU seat on an enlarged Security Council (UNSC) remains a long-term goal.

The outcomes of two major high-level meetings: the EU-Africa Summit on migration in Valletta and the G20 Summit in Antalya, have considerably advanced the debate on migration and security. Members are scheduled to hear statements on the conclusions reached at the meetings from the Council and the Commission on Wednesday.

Earlier that day, Sergio Mattarella, President of the Italian Republic will address the plenary. However, migration and security issues remain the leitmotif of the week: on 24 November, the plenary will vote on a non-binding resolution on preventing radicalisation in the EU. Given the now pressing need to deal with what Rachida Dati (EPP, France) has referred to as ‘hotbeds’ of free-roaming European extremists – and the role of the internet in facilitating hate speech in particular – the focus of pan-European law enforcement and judicial cooperation will be on prevention as well as cure.

Combatting radicalisation [Plenary podcast]

The recent G20 Summit also addressed economic matters, in particular boosting growth, investment and employment, and economic issues are the focus in Plenary on Tuesday afternoon. Members are due to adopt the EU’s budget for 2016, based on a joint text agreed with the Council on 14 November. The plenary will also discuss the report of the Special Committee on Tax, on tackling aggressive tax planning by corporations, and a Commission statement on the gender pension gap later in the day (and for those not yet ready to retire, the EU’s strategic framework on health and safety at work will also be discussed). MEPs then turn their attention to citizens’ finances, to vote on a compromise text on the revised Insurance Distribution Directive, which aims to harmonise the insurance market to boost both consumer choice and consumer protection. To end the week, the Court of Auditors’ annual report, which signs off the EU budget for 2014, is scheduled for debate on Thursday.

As this is the last full session before the COP21 conference on climate change, Tuesday morning kicks off with the presentation of the State of the Energy Union by the Commission’s Vice-President for Energy Union, Maroš Šefčovič. While climate action, energy security are key areas for action, we might also expect transport CO2 emissions to figure during the debate.

Finally, MEPs will award the 2015 LUX Prize for film. This year’s finalists, Mediterranea, Mustang and The Lesson, are in contention for access to financial assistance with subtitling and distribution, an area where European films struggle to compete with well-heeled US networks. Did you catch one of the films, already shown in 40 cities and at 18 festivals? Which film did you vote for in the ‘audience mention‘ category?

European Cinema and the Lux Prize [Plenary podcast]


You can subscribe to the podcast via the Europarl podcast page, Stitcher, TuneIn or YouTube and automatically receive all new episodes.

Source Article from http://epthinktank.eu/2015/11/20/a-sombre-plenary-session/

Russian measures against European Union agricultural products: one year on

Written by Ana Martinez Juan
Embargo wordcloud

© XtravaganT / Fotolia

The legal basis for the European Union (EU) relations with the Russian Federation is the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement , which came into force on 1 December 1997 and regulates the political and economic relations between the two parties. In this context, and regarding trade exchanges, Russia is the third trading partner of the EU and the EU is the first trading partner of Russia. EU exports to Russia are dominated by machinery and transport equipment, chemicals, medicines and agricultural products. Russia is the second export market for EU agricultural products, after the United States.

On 6 August 2014, the Russian government decreed a ban on certain agricultural and food products from the European Union, the United States, Canada, Australia and Norway, as a result of the implementation of economic sanctions against Russia in the context of the situation in Ukraine. On 7 August, the Russian government adopted a list of products to be banned for a period of one year . The list covers products over several sectors: fruit and vegetables, milk and dairy products and bovine, porcine and poultry meat and certain prepared meat products; fish and crustaceans are also banned.

On 22 June 2015 the Council of Foreign Affairs and International Relations extended the economic sanctions until 31 January 2016. This decision follows an agreement at the European Council in March 2015. In return, on 25 June the Russian authorities decided to prolong the ban until 6 August 2016 and to amend the list of agricultural and food products banned. In addition, on 31 July 2015 the Russian authorities decreed the destruction of banned products from the European Union, the United States, Canada, Australia and Norway found within the Russian Federation. Furthermore, on 14 August the Russian government extended the list of the countries that fall under the Russian agricultural ban, thus including Iceland, Liechtenstein, Albania and Montenegro.

Since the Russian government decreed the embargo in August 2014, the Commission, with the support of the Member States, has been monitoring its effects (market disturbances, negative impact on prices) and has introduced emergency support measures to mitigate these effects. These measures have an internal and an external dimension . Internal measures aim to stablish prices and to avoid oversupply in the EU market and consist of market measures and promotion programmes in the EU internal market. External measures aim to open alternative markets outside the EU and comprise promotion programmes in external markets, trade negotiations and reduction of trade barriers.

A year after the ban started, statistical data illustrate the impact and the evolution of the situation. Thus, the ban has affected some Member States more than others. Among those most affected are Finland , Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland.

As regards the impact on the EU exports, EU agri-food exports to Russia decreased by 43 % (from €10.2 billion to €5.8 billion) between August 2014 and June 2015, compared to the same period one year before. In spite of the Russian ban, the EU agri-food sector has compensated the losses in export sales to Russia by increasing exports to other countries (USA, Switzerland, China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Asian markets).

Concerning the cost for the EU budget and according to the data held by the Commission as of the end of May 2015, “market measures for the fruit and vegetables sector, as well as the envelopes granted to Finland and the Baltic Member States to support their milk producers is currently estimated at €178.8 million”. As regards milk and dairy products “the costs of private storage aid for butter and skimmed milk powder can only be estimated once detailed information becomes available regarding the contracted quantities and the duration of storage”. In relation to the income losses , the Commission said that “an overview of the income losses related to the Russian Embargo at Member State level is not available”.

The extension of the Russian embargo until August 2016 entails an increase of the financial expenditure not provided in the draft general budget 2016 , which was drawn up in late May 2015 and is currently in the budgetary conciliation committee . For this reason the Commission presented to the budgetary authority an amending letter to the draft general budget on 14 October 2015. In this letter, the Commission is proposing to increase expenditure for agriculture by €660.7 million compared to the draft general budget for 2016. This reinforced budget will be allocated to the support measures for the agricultural sectors banned, to the promotion programmes as well as to support sectors facing difficult market situations, in particular dairy and pigmeat.

In this financial context, the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Parliament, in its opinion on the draft general budget (September 2015), regretted the cuts made to the budget for intervention in the agricultural market. The committee also called the Commission to implement all necessary measures to support the food sector hit by the embargo, in particular in the countries adjoining Russia, and to develop new markets for EU agricultural products.

This keysource gathers information about the measures introduced by the Commission, the initiatives of the Parliament as well as the discussions in the European Council. It also provides information about the effects of the embargo in the EU and statistical data on the evolution of the agricultural markets.

Measures introduced by the Commission

Market measures

Fruit and vegetables

Market withdrawals for free distribution of fruit and vegetables to charitable organizations and withdrawals of products for other purposes (animal feed, composting or distillation). Compensation for the so called green harvesting and non-harvesting .

“Under the exceptional support measures implemented up to 30 June 2015, around 770,000 tonnes were withdrawn from the markets with a support of around €155 million”.

Commission extends safety net measures for fruit and vegetables sector . Press release, 7 August 2015.

→Legal act: Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/1369 of 7 August 2015 amending Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1031/2014 laying down further temporary exceptional support measures for producers of certain fruit and vegetables

Market support for perishable fruit & vegetable to continue in 2015 . Press release, 12 December 2014.

→Legal act: Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1371/2014 of 19 December 2014 amending Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1031/2014 laying down further temporary exceptional support measures for producers of certain fruit and vegetables.

Further €165 million package for perishable fruit & vegetable market support. Press release: IP/14/1061 , 29 September 2014.

→Legal act: Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1031/2014 of 29 September 2014 laying down further temporary exceptional support measures for producers of certain fruit and vegetables.

Commission suspends emergency measures for perishable fruit and vegetables and will come forward with a more targeted scheme. Press release: IP/14/996 , 10 September 2014.

Exceptional support measures for EU producers of perishable fruit & vegetables. Press release: IP/14/932 , 18 August 2014.

→Legal act: Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 932/2014 of 29 August 2014 laying down temporary exceptional support measures for producers of certain fruit and vegetables and amending Delegated Regulation (EU) No 913/2014.

Exceptional measures to assist peach and nectarine producers. Press release: IP/14/920 , 11 August 2014.

→Legal act: Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 913/2014 of 21 August 2014 laying down temporary exceptional support measures for producers of peaches and nectarines.

Milk and milk products

The Commission has opened private storage aid and public intervention for milk and milk products.

“To date (30 July 2015), some 108,652 tonnes of butter and 40,045 tonnes of skimmed milk powder have been offered to private storage since the start of the scheme in September 2014. 1,176 tonnes of skimmed milk powder have been offered to intervention”.

→Legal acts:

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/1549 of 17 September 2015 laying down temporary exceptional measures for the milk and milk product sector in the form of extending the public intervention period for butter and skimmed milk powder in 2015 and advancing the public intervention period for butter and skimmed milk powder in 2016.

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/1548 of 17 September 2015 amending Implementing Regulations (EU) No 947/2014 and (EU) No 948/2014 as regards the last day for submission of applications for private storage aid for butter and skimmed milk powder.

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/303 of 25 February 2015 amending Implementing Regulations (EU) No 947/2014 and (EU) No 948/2014 as regards the last day for submission of applications for private storage aid for butter and skimmed milk powder.

10.7 € million for Finland’s milk producers . Press release, 19 December 2014.

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1370/2014 of 19 December 2014 providing for temporary exceptional aid to milk producers in Finland.

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 1337/2014 of 16 December 2014 amending Implementing Regulations (EU) No 947/2014 and (EU) No 948/2014 as regards the last day for submission of applications for private storage aid for butter and skimmed milk powder.

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1336/2014 of 16 December 2014 laying down temporary exceptional measures for the milk and milk product sector in the form of advancing the public intervention period for butter and skimmed milk powder in 2015

€28 million package for Baltic Milk Producers. Press release: IP/14/1960 , 19 November 2014.

→Legal act: Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1263/2014 of 26 November 2014 providing for temporary exceptional aid to milk producers in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Private Storage Aid for cheese closed. Press release: IP/14/1036 , 23 September 2014.

→Legal act: Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 992/2014 of 22 September 2014 repealing Delegated Regulation (EU) No 950/2014.

Emergency market support measures for the milk sector. Press release: IP/14/954 , 28 August 2014.

→Legal acts:

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 950/2014 of 4 September 2014 opening a temporary exceptional private storage aid scheme for certain cheeses and fixing in advance the amount of aid.

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 949/2014 of 4 September 2014 laying down temporary exceptional measures for the milk and milk product sector in the form of extending the public intervention period for butter and skimmed milk powder in 2014.

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 948/2014 of 4 September 2014 opening private storage for skimmed milk powder and fixing in advance the amount of aid.

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 947/2014 of 4 September 2014 opening private storage for butter and fixing in advance the amount of aid.


Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/360 of 5 March 2015 opening private storage for pigmeat and fixing in advance the amount of aid.

Promotion policy

On 30 September 2014 the Commission announced the additional EU funding (€30 million  for promotion programmes starting in 2015 in addition to the annual budget €60 million) as medium-term response to Russian embargo.

On 21 April 2015, the Commission approved 41 programmes for agricultural products from which 17 of these programmes target the internal EU market and 24 target third countries. These programmes worth €130 million over 3 years, €65m of which comes from the EU budget.

On 12 November 2015, the Commission approved 33 programmes , 20 target the internal market and 13 target third countries and regions. These programmes are worth €108 million over 3 years, €54 million of which comes from the EU budget.

Trade negotiations

The Commission has also intensified bilateral and regional trade negotiations in order to create new market opportunities and has also implemented actions to reduce market barriers in particular sanitary and phytosanitary measures .


Russian import embargo: EU agri-food export development until June2015 . European Commission, Directorate General for the Agriculture and Rural Development. September 2015. 2 p.
Compared to the equivalent period one year before, EU agri-food exports to Russia decreased between August 2014 and June 2015 from € 10.2 billion to € 5.8 billion (€ -4.4 billion; -43 %). This was the result of an almost complete disappearance of exports within the banned product categories and a slight decrease for products not subject to the ban.

The impact of current EU-Russia relations on the agri-food sector . European Economic and Social Committee, Group III “Various Interests” Seminar. 7 July 2015.
At this seminar topics were discussed such as the following: the impact of the current EU-Russia relations on the agri-food sector, the EU and Russia: challenges and possibilities, the agritrade challenges for Finnish Farmers,  agricultural trade today and the EU position in the current market situation, the impact of difficulties in EU-Russia trade relations on the Finnish foodstuffs sector and Baltic dairy situation after Russian embargo.

Information note on the Russian ban on agri-food products from the EU . European Commission, Directorate General for the Agriculture and Rural Development. 3 September 2014. 19 p.
This information note provides information on the Russian ban in perspective, the EU market disturbances and the EU market measures, the impact of those measures by sectors, other EU instruments (trade policy measures, promotion of agricultural products etc.) and possible compensation measures for farmers affected by the ban (EU and national instruments). The note also provides statistical data (charts and tables).

Questions & Answers on the potential impact of the Russian measures against EU agricultural products and the EU response so far . MEMO 14/517 (03-09-2014). Additional questions and answers have been added on 22 September.


General analysis

Expected and unexpected effects of the Russian food import ban .  Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies, symposium August 2015. 3 p.
According to speakers at a IAMO symposium Russia imposed an embargo on food imports from countries that participate in sanctions against it. Import substitution from domestic producers and other countries will lessen the impact on Russian consumers. As the Russian government struggles to revitalise the agrarian economy in view of economic downturn and budgetary constraints, quick import substitution of livestock products appears unlikely. Contrary to expectations of positive effects for member countries of the Eurasian Customs Union, neighbouring Kazakhstan mostly felt the downside of the Russian turbulences.

Trade diversion and high food prices: the impact of the Russian pig meat import ban / Ivan Djuric, Linde Götz and Thomas Glauben. Selected Paper prepared for presentation at the 2015 Agricultural & Applied Economics Association and Western Agricultural Economics Association Annual Meeting, 26-28 July 2015. 16 p.

In this paper the authors analyze the impact of the Russian ban on import of pig meat originating in the EU on the domestic pig meat price developments in Russia. They use a regime-switching price transmission model in order to identify possible changes in the long-run equilibrium between the pig meat prices of Russia and its main non-EU trading partners. Our results indicate the reduction of transaction costs in pig meat trade between Russia and its main non-EU trading partners, followed by the increase in transmission of price changes in the long-run.

The EU and the Member States

A perfect storm for EU dairy prices . United States Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service, 14 August 2015. 7 p.
Report Highlights. Milk production margins in the European Union (EU) have turned negative in recent months as EU farmers continued to increase production following the end of the EU dairy quota system on April 1, 2015, while ignoring decreasing world dairy demand. The extension of the 2014 Russian embargo on agricultural imports has added additional downward pressure on dairy markets. This has led farmers in France to start protests, blocking roads, but also retail distribution centers and supermarkets. Belgian and U.K. farmers soon joined these protests that will culminate in Brussels during the September 7 special Agricultural Council meeting. Long-term outlook for global dairy demand remains promising, even if the current sluggish dairy market situation may not disappear overnight.

EU 28: EU Meat production hits boundaries . United States Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service, 9 September 2015.
Report Highlights. In 2016, cattle herd levels are expected to grow marginally for the EU as a whole, but there will be a great deal of fluctuation within several EU Member States due to the abolishment of the EU milk quota this year. The EU is forecast to export a record volume of pork in 2015. The current negative market conditions are anticipated to result in a smaller sow herd, and as a consequence reduced pork production and exports in 2016. Policy highlights include the new Common Agricultural Policy, an update on the EU High Quality Beef quota, the Russian ban on EU pork and political sanctions, and the Emergency Farm Council Meeting.

EU-28: Dairy and products semi-annual . United States Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service, 14 May 2015.
Report Highlights. On March 31, 2015, European milk quota system was terminated. In expectation of price volatility the European Commission introduced in September 2014 and extended till September 2015 a temporary Private Storage Aid program for butter and Non Fat Dried Milk. Although the Russian ban on imports of dairy products affected EU exports in 2014, the actual effect was smaller than originally expected.

The Russian Embargo: impact on the economic and employment situation in the EU / Susanne Kraatz. European Parliament, Policy Department A Economy and Scientific Policy, November 2014. 10 p.
This document provides an overview of the EU sanctions and Russia’s retaliatory measures. It analyzes the impact on economy and employment, compensation measures taken by the European Commission as well as initiatives by the European Parliament.

The Baltic Member States

Baltic macro outlook – Q1 15 / Danske Bank Markets. March 2015.
Effect of Russian food sanctions Lithuania (page 21) and Effect of Russian food sanctions Latvia and Estonia (page 22).


The impact of difficulties in EU-Russia trade relations on the Finnish foodstuffs sector / Presentation by Jyrki Niemi and Perttu Pyykkönen.  Conference The impact of current EU-Russia relations on the agri-food sector, Helsinki 7 July 2015.
Over the years, the producer price of milk in Finland has been among the highest in the EU. However, market losses due to the Russian embargo have had direct effect on producer price and current producer price is 15% less than year before. As a result of this, farm income, i.e. the compensation for own labour and invested capital, is expected to decrease by 35-40% in an average-size dairy cattle


Le solde commercial français est encore peu affecté par l’embargo russe / Direction générale des douanes et droits indirects. Mars 2015. 2 p.
En 2014, l’embargo russe sur les produits agroalimentaires originaires de l’Union européenne et d’autres pays avancés a peu affecté le solde agroalimentaire de la France. En 2013, la France avait écoulé en Russie 220 millions d’euros de produits sous embargo, soit seulement 3% de ses ventes à la Russie. Certains pays européens ayant été plus touchés que la France, les effets indirects liés à l’écoulement sur le marché français de leurs produits soumis à embargo sont potentiellement plus importants mais encore peu visibles. Certaines filières sont cependant particulièrement affectées


Russia Tightens Restrictions on Polish Exports of Food Products . United States Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service, 3 September 2015. 3 p.
Report Highlights: On February 20, 2015, Russian food safety authorities temporarily banned imports of cheese products and cheese-like products from Poland justifying their decision by protection of consumers. According to the announcement the results of tests of one of the products indicated a discrepancy with technical requirements of the regulations of the Custom Union regarding labeling of milk and dairy products.

Russian ban on Polish apples sweetened by U.S. imports of juice . United States Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service, 1 June 2015. 2 p.
Report Highlights: Polish exports of apple juice to the United States in the last two months of 2014 and first two months of 2015 reached a record level of 21,020MT or US$ 23.3 million. Despite the Russian ban on imports of agricultural products, Polish farmers were able to utilize the entire 2014 crop of apples. The opening of new export markets, increase of domestic demand, partial withdrawal of apples from the Polish market subsidized by the European Union and increase of sales of the apple juice to the United States are listed as major factors which helped Polish farmers to overcome the apple crisis caused by the Russian embargo


Efectos del veto ruso en las exportaciones españolas / Juan José Otamendi García-Jalón. Boletín Económico del ICE, Mayo 2015. 20 p.
This paper examines the sectors affected by the Russian ban and exports of these sectors after the veto. According to the data, many of the sectors have find  other markets for their products, while the rest experienced greater fall than would be explained by the Russian veto, which leads us to believe that behind the fall of its exports are other reasons.

La prórroga del veto ruso pone contra las cuerdas a 45.000 explotaciones frutícolas españolas . Coordinadora de Organizaciones de Agricultores y Ganaderos. Press release, 25 Junio 2015.

Visegrad Group (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia)

Internal Market and the EU-Russia Sanctions: examination of practice in Visegrád countries one year on / Kryštof Kruliš with research contribution of Peter Plenta, Liwiusz Wojciechowski and Norbert Szijártó. Association for International Affairs, August 2015. 23 p.
The analysis of the impact of the Russian food ban on the Visegrad Group countries must distinguish between the direct impact and the indirect impact. Poland was, after Lithuania, the second Western country most directly hurt by the Russian food ban. The direct impact on Hungarian exports of agricultural products is somewhere between the heavy damage to Poland and the almost negligible direct impact in the case of the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic. The food ban resulted in the collapse of apple prices in Poland and also damaged other sectors such as mushrooms or tomatoes. Poland was also the only V4 country seriously affected in cheese exports. In the case of Hungary, the pork and poultry sectors were hit especially hard.


Russia’s economic crisis and its agricultural and food economy / William M. Liefert and Olga Liefert. The magazine of food, farm, and resource issues. 1st Quarter 2015 – 30(1). 6 p.
By the beginning of 2015, the Russian economy was facing both high inflation and a deep recession. These developments will create major challenges for the agricultural and food economy in the short to medium term, covering production, distribution, and consumption. Not all of the recent events will have negative consequences. For example, the depreciation of the ruble will make Russian agricultural exports -such as grain- more price-competitive on the world market. However, like most of the economy, the agricultural sector on balance will most likely be adversely affected by these affairs.

Food Service Sector snapshot in Russian Far East . United States Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service, 8 May 2015. 5 p.
Report Highlights: In 2014, the food service sector in the Russian Far East faced a number of serious challenges including a food import, implementation of a nationwide smoking ban in restaurants and bars and a depreciating ruble, currency fluctuations, and dropping consumer purchasing power. Nevertheless, the restaurant sector in the region has adapted by offering more middle and lower-end establishments and sourcing more ingredients from domestic suppliers.

Russian retailers modify strategies as economy slows . United States Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service, 2 March 2015. 4 p.
Report Highlights: Towards the end of 2014, the Russian economy entered a very difficult period as it was hit hard by record-low oil prices, dropping consumer purchasing power, a food import ban which pushed up inflation, and ruble devaluation. As a result, Russian retailers have begun implementing new business strategies which optimize expenses and improve staff productivity. Although the government is still only considering new price control measures, local officials in the regions have held meetings with retailers and encouraged them to (a) set minimal mark-ups for socially important products, (b) sell more locally-produced food products, and (c) freeze prices for private label products.

Food Import Ban Changing Russian Far East Food Market . United States Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service, 28 January 2015. 3 p.
Report Highlights: The food import ban has changed the food market in the Russian Far East. Domestic manufacturers and suppliers have taken over vast shelve space in retail stores all over the region which previously were occupied by imported products. Unfortunately, this redistribution was accompanied by sharp jumps in prices for many food products which are causing great concern to the general public. The trend of rising food prices has primarily affected meat products since there is virtually no pork production in the Russian Far East which makes it heavily dependent on imported meat.

EU Institutions – Commissioner

European Parliament


Opinion of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development on the draft general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2016 . (07-09-2015). Procedure: 2015/2132(BUD) .
In this opinion the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development regrets the cuts made to the budget for intervention in the agricultural markets, calls on the Commission to implement all necessary measures to support Union farmers, in all agricultural fields, and the food sector hit by the embargo, in particular in the countries adjoining Russia and underscores the importance of developing new markets for maintaining competitiveness and increasing the resistance of European agriculture to market crises.


European Parliament resolution of 7 July 2015 on prospects for the EU dairy sector – review of the implementation of the Dairy Package .  Procedure:  2014/2146(INI) . See the section “Impact of the Russian embargo and the current crisis in the dairy sector”.

Written questions

MEPs have submitted several written question to the Commission on this topic. We have selected the most recent ones.

Inclusion of stone fruit in the exceptional support measures following the Russian ban (29-05-2015). Answer (12-08-2015).

Russian embargo on agricultural products from EU countries (17-07-2015). Answer (04-09-2015).

Measures to alleviate the effects of the Russian embargo (07-07-2015). Answer (03-09-2015).

Measures to protect the fruit and vegetable sector from the Russian embargo (03-07-2015). Answer (21-08-2015).

Preventive measures for the Russian embargo (30-06-2015). Answer (18-08-2015).

Russian embargo and prevention of food fraud (15-04-2015). Answer (23-06-2015).

Third round of compensation to fruit and vegetable producers affected by the Russian embargo (13-04-2015). Answer (18-06-2015).

Russian ban on import of food products from the EU and bilateral negotiations with some EU Member States (04-02-2015). Answer (09-03-2015).

Council of the EU

The Council of the European Union (Agriculture and Fisheries) has discussed several times the Russian embargo.

Outcome of the Council Meeting . 07-09-2015.

Market developments – Information from the Commission and exchange of views . 08- 07-2015.

Outcome of the Council Meeting . 13-07-2015.

Outcome of the Council Meeting . 16-03-2015.

Outcome of the Council Meeting . 26-01-2015.


Commissioner Phil Hogan has mentioned the Russian ban in several of his speeches. The first one in his hearing (02-10-2014) in the Parliament.

Speech by Commissioner Phil Hogan to the Members of the Latvian Parliament (Riga) . 29-10-2015.

Speech by Commissioner Phil Hogan at 2015 Michael Dillon Lecture (Dublin) . 23-10-2015.

Speech at the French Senate . 08-10-2015.

Speech at the Informal Council of Agriculture Ministers, Luxembourg . 15-09-2015.

Extracts from Commissioner Phil Hogan’s press conference on the State of play of European agricultural markets . 26-08-2015.

Opening statement on the Nicholson dairy package report – EP Plenary session debate . 06-07-2015.

Our Food, Our Farms, Our Future” (VI Conference of Agricultural Co-operatives, Valladolid) . 16-06-2015.

Stakeholder views

Strategic agenda / Civil Dialogue Group on International Aspects of Agriculture. May 2015. 5 p. This civil dialogue group has incorporate the Russian ban to its strategic agenda.

Copa and Cogeca welcome as positive step some new extra measures agreed by EU Farm Ministers today but still not sufficient to solve bad situation hitting EU agricultural markets mainly as result of Russian export ban and unfair actions by retailers . 15-09-2015. 2 p.

Copa and Cogeca warn new EU Commission aid package far from sufficient to improve drastic EU situation hitting agriculture markets caused mainly by Russian crisis . 07-09-2015. 2 p.

Economic Bulletin – Q1 2015 Highlights / FoodDrink Europe. August 2015. 10 p.  See the section: “External trade: good performance despite Russian ban”

Russian food ban . Dossier. Euractiv.


Export data by Member State – July 2015 . European Commission, Directorate General for the Agriculture and Rural Development. September 2015. 2 p.

Monthly evolution of agri-food exports to third countries . European Commission, Directorate General for the Agriculture and Rural Development. August 2015. 1 p.

EU agri-food exports: August 2014 – June 2015 . European Commission, Directorate General for the Agriculture and Rural Development. August 2015. 1 p.

Short-Term Outlook for EU arable crops, dairy and meat markets in 2015 and 2016 . European Commission, Directorate General for the Agriculture and Rural Development. July 2015.


Green harvesting . Totally harvesting non-marketable (but not damaged) products on a given cultivated area, before the normal harvest.

Market withdrawals. This means withdrawing products from the market (not putting them up for sale).

Non-harvesting . Not taking any commercial production from the cultivated area during the normal production cycle. Does not include destruction of products due to climatic event or disease.

Private storage aid . Some products have a seasonal cycle, meaning that in certain periods there is a relative over-production, while later in the year there is a relative shortage. Certain external factors may increase the seasonal peak beyond normal expectations, thus potentially causing the market price to fall. In such cases it may be decided to temporarily support producers of products, such as olive oil and butter, regarding the cost of private storage.

Promotion policy . This is the promotion food and beverages produced by farmers in the European Union. Products are promoted both within the European Union itself and in third countries. To this end the European Union, its member states and the professional organisations co-finance and jointly organise promotion actions, information campaigns and trade missions. Such actions raise the publicʼs awareness of the quality of the European Union products.

Public intervention. One of the market management instruments under the single common market organisation and which functions as a safety net is public intervention. When the market price of a product reaches the reference threshold, the European Union may decide to buy a quantity of the product from the market and place it temporarily in storage. Later, when prices are recovering, the product may be sold in the internal market, sold in special destinations or exported.

Sanitary and phytosanitary measures and agreement (SPS).These are measures to protect human, animal and plant life or health and to ensure that food is safe to eat. The final act of the WTO agreement on agriculture contains the agreement on the application of sanitary and phytosanitary measures. It applies to all sanitary and phytosanitary measures that may have a direct or indirect impact on international trade.

Information source: Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Commission.

Source Article from http://epthinktank.eu/2015/11/20/russian-measures-against-european-union-agricultural-products-one-year-on/

Transport CO2 emissions in focus

Written by Eulalia Claros and Marketa Pape

On 30 November 2015, the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is due to start in Paris. The aim is for the Parties to adopt binding rules to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and keep global warming below an increase of 2˚C. This overview shows how about 25% of CO2 emissions in the EU result from transport activities. The map below gives the share of transport emissions (from fuel combustion, not including indirect emissions from electricity use) in the total CO2 emissions in each Member State, and the volume contribution of different transport modes to the EU total. While in other sectors the volumes of CO2 emissions have decreased between 1990 and 2012, those resulting from transport show increases, in some cases more than twofold.

Download this Infographic on ‘Transport CO2 emissions in focus’ in PDF.


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Source Article from http://epthinktank.eu/2015/11/19/transport-co2-emissions-in-focus/