Месечни архиви: August 2016

Will autonomous machines make us safer?

Robot and human hand-shake

Shutterstock / Willyam Bradberry

Written by Lieve Van Woensel with Sarah McCormack,

A study on the ‘Ethics of Cyber Physical Systems’ has recently been published by the Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) Panel. This blog post was prepared using information from a technical briefing paper written for the study by Professor Michael Henshaw (Loughborough University, United Kingdom) and Joost van Barneveld, MSc (Technopolis Group, The Netherlands). The study examined seven key areas, where cyber-physical systems (CPS) will have a significant impact. CPS are technical systems where networked computers and robots interact with the physical world. They are found in a wide range of services and applications. As their numbers are ever increasing, due to the continuous development of these technologies, we have to examine what impact they will have on citizens’ safety and security.

What impact will they have on our safety?

It is clear that we will encounter CPS more and more in the coming years. This will range from encountering driverless cars on the streets, to drones flying over crop fields, to smart homes reducing our energy bill. Currently, certain aspects of CPS are vulnerable to hackers and criminals. If hackers manage to infiltrate them, it can lead to safety issues, as they can access personal data of individuals gathered by the CPS. Medical CPS devices, such as insulin pumps, could also be compromised by hackers. If hacked, they could be used to deliver a fatal dose to the patient. Thankfully, the protection of CPS will come in several forms, one being quantum cryptography. This promises to better protect individuals through nearly unbreakable codes and, once applied to CPS, will increase the security of these systems.

Can we trust them?

As we start to live our lives alongside these autonomous machines, we need to examine the ethical questions raised. Are we safe in close contact with machines that have no moral or ethical codes to follow? Can we ensure that the lack of ethical behaviour does not lead to breaches in security (e.g. drones being used to collect personal data) or safety (e.g. military robots mistaking civilians for opponents)? Who will get to decide what moral code they should follow? Should it be up to the government to legislate on the use a particular ethical code that these systems ought to follow? Such questions will need to be addressed as these systems become more commonplace, while we endeavour to minimise risks for citizens.

Can security and safety benefit from CPS?

There are several key benefits to the implementation of CPS for both our safety and security. Drones can be used by governments to monitor borders. In doing so they can provide this information to the relevant authorities to help them minimise the number of illegal immigrants entering a country. Driverless cars are not subject to road rage, nor do they become tired or aggressive. They are also better at calculating manoeuvres than human drivers and thus are safer. CPS will also aid relief workers: they can access dangerous sites to help in disaster relief, not only helping to save victims, but also keeping the workers safe.

What next?

CPS are here to stay and there are many expected benefits from the development of these technologies in relation to security and safety. Yet there are still key vulnerabilities within these systems and ethical questions which cannot be ignored. After all the positive and negative effects may balance out, leaving the world neither necessarily safer nor more dangerous than before the introduction of CPS. It is evident that the development of these systems will require changes in legislation to take into account the risks that these systems pose and ensure that citizens remain safe and secure in a world shared with CPS.

For more information about CPS check out this STOA video.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/08/18/will-autonomous-machines-make-us-safer/

Podcasts April 2016: Listen again!

Written by Richard Freedman,

Looking back on this series of EPRS podcasts, in April 2016 the Plenary podcasts focussed on protecting businesses’ trade secrets and on the technical pillar of the fourth railway package.

Protecting businesses’ trade secrets

Industrial espionage is a growing problem in the EU. To allow companies to better protect their trade secrets and be compensated when confidential information gets stolen, the EU is working out new common rules to harmonise the fight against corporate espionage. The theft of business secrets is an increasingly widespread problem in the EU. According to the European Commission, one in four European companies was stolen vital information, at least once, in 2013, compared to not even one in five, in 2012… But what is a trade secret? New EU rules to help firms win legal redress against theft or misuse of their trade secrets were voted by Parliament in April. MEPs ensured that freedom of expression and information will be protected and that the rules will not restrict the work of journalists.

Listen to the Plenary podcast Protecting businesses’ trade secrets [Plenary podcast]

Technical pillar of the fourth railway package

Train passengers may not even notice when they cross a border. But running a train from one country to another is technically complex and costly! And despite the EU’s efforts to harmonise rail systems and create an integrated EU railway area, the journey is not yet over… The 4th railway package, tabled by the European Commission in January 2013, aims to improve the competitiveness of the rail sector and quality of rail services by removing administrative costs, introducing more competition in domestic passenger services and ensuring a level playing field for operators.

A three-way agreement on the “technical” files was reached by Parliament, the Council and the Commission in June 2015 and approved in Parliament’s Transport Committee in March 2016. Parliament and Council negotiators then reached a provisional agreement on the “market” pillar of the railway package on 19 April.

Listen to the Plenary podcast Technical pillar of the fourth railway package [Plenary podcast]

 


The longer Policy podcasts of April 2016 outlined the latest developments on the Schengen Area and the Situation in Ukraine

The Schengen Area

For many, Schengen is one of the EU´s most important achievements. Today, more often than not, we can jump on a train or hop in the car to visit friends in neighbouring countries without having to show our passport at the border. But current migratory pressures and security concerns have led several countries to reintroduce temporary border controls. Will this be the end of Schengen? Or will the EU manage to preserve this 30-year long achievement?

Listen to the Policy podcast on the Schengen Area

Situation in Ukraine

What started as a pro-European revolution in downtown Kiev has escalated into a full-blown international crisis, putting the European Union and the US at odds with Russia. And despite that the guns have largely fallen silent, the conflict is nowhere near over… Stay with us for a recount of the origins and evolution of a conflict that has shaken the foundations of Europe’s security architecture. Today, more than two years after the Euromaidan revolution, Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and the eruption of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, the country is still at a crossroads between war and peace, between corruption and reform.

Listen to the Policy podcast on the Situation in Ukraine

 

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/08/17/podcasts-april-2016-listen-again/

Public opinion and EU action on economic policy and taxation: exploring the expectations gap

Written by Clare Ferguson,

Economic policy has recently been a matter of some concern to all European citizens, with the consequences of the economic crisis hitting hard. In order to test the public mood concerning economic policy and the fight against tax fraud, the European Parliament recently commissioned a Eurobarometer survey on EU action, including in these policy fields. EPRS has identified the gaps between citizens’ expectations and the possibilities for increased EU intervention in these fields.

Economic policy

Public expectations and EU commitment on economic policy

Public expectations and EU commitment on economic policy

The financial crisis and the sovereign debt crisis that followed have shaken citizens’ confidence in economic policies. Although there are understandable geographical variations in attitudes, just over half of EU citizens would like the EU to intervene more, rather than less, in economic policy. Whilst monetary policy is an exclusive EU competence for the euro area, Member State compliance with the existing Stability and Growth Pact framework is weak. The EU maintains a high state of vigilance, in case of further difficulties with the banks/sovereign nexus, but room for further EU action is considerably limited.

The fight against tax fraud

Public expectations and EU commitment on the fight against tax fraud

Public expectations and EU commitment on the fight against tax fraud

Taxation remains a matter for Member States, and the EU’s competences in tax are limited. Different forms of escaping tax obligations result in tax fraud, evasion or avoidance, and dealing with the problem is a cross-border issue. The fight against fraud and evasion is a mix of national and EU actions. However, EU citizens express strong support for EU involvement in the fight against fraud and this creates a gap between citizens’ expectations and actual EU involvement in this policy area. European citizens strongly support EU measures to reform global financial markets, and top of their wish list is tougher rules on tax avoidance and tax havens.

Read the complete briefing on:

See other policy areas covered with this Eurobarometer.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/08/16/public-opinion-and-eu-action-on-economic-policy-and-taxation-exploring-the-expectations-gap/

Podcasts of March 2016: Tune in again!

Written by Richard Freedman

Returning to March 2016, the Plenary podcasts focussed on the reformed scheme for fruit and milk in schools and market access to port services and financial transparency of ports.

Reformed scheme for fruit and milk in schools

To promote healthier lifestyles and combat obesity among school children, the European Commission has proposed to merge two separate EU schemes for the distribution of milk and fruit in schools under a joint framework. Children across the EU should get the benefit of better-funded school milk, fruit and vegetable schemes, along with better education on healthy eating. A draft new law to this end, provisionally agreed with EU ministers in December 2015 and approved by Parliament in March, will merge today’s separate EU school milk and fruit schemes and boost their combined annual budget by €20 million to €250 million a year.

Listen to the Plenary podcast Reformed scheme for fruit and milk in schools [Plenary podcast]

Market access to port services and financial transparency of ports

In a third attempt to liberalise the EU’s port services, the European Commission has set sail for an long-awaited modernisation of port services offered by the EU’s 329 main seaports. Draft rules designed to boost the efficiency and cut the cost of services supplied at EU maritime ports, such as mooring and towage, were voted by Parliament in March 2016. Ensuring transparency in the setting of fees for using port services and infrastructure, and in any public funding that ports receive, should help to prevent price abuse and market distortions and thus boost trade, MEPs say. But current port service arrangements could remain, provided they meet minimum requirements, they add.

Listen to the Plenary podcast Market access to port services and financial transparency of ports [Plenary podcast]


The longer Policy podcasts of March 2016 focussed on The Digital Single Market and the situation in Syria.

Digital Single Market

Recent estimates by the European Parliament suggest that moving from 28 national markets to a single one could contribute €415 billion per year to our economy and create millions of new jobs. The EU’s single market is one of the greatest successes of European integration. But switch from the physical to the online, and you’ll see the picture is not quite the same.

Listen to the Policy podcast on the Digital Single Market

Situation in Syria

What started as local anti-government protests in south-western Syria in 2011 has evolved into a fully-fledged war whose end is not yet in sight. The conflict has forced over 4.5 million Syrians to flee the country, many of them seeking refuge in Europe. In this EPRS policy podcast, we analysed the roots, evolution and international response to an external conflict that became EU business.

Listen to the Policy podcast on the situation in Syria

 

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/08/15/podcasts-of-march-2016-tune-in-again/

Public opinion and EU action on industrial policy, energy supply and security: exploring the expectations gap

Written by Clare Ferguson,

The European Parliament, the only directly elected EU institution, recently commissioned a Eurobarometer survey to gauge citizens’ attitudes to EU action in a range of policy fields, including industry, energy supply and energy security. Although industrial policy appears to be a low priority for citizens, ensuring a secure supply of energy is of more importance. We look at the gaps between citizens’ expectations and the scope for further EU intervention in these fields.

Industrial policy

Public expectations and EU commitment on industrial policy

Public expectations and EU commitment on industrial policy

European citizens continue to perceive industrial policy as a mainly domestic matter. Of all the policy areas mentioned in the recent Eurobarometer survey, citizens feel least strongly about their responses to questions on industrial policy. However, EU policy-makers are keen to employ industrial policies to boost economic growth, which has benefits that are rather more obvious for citizens. The Commission has placed industrial policy as a key element of the Europe 2020 strategy, setting a target to increase industry share of GDP to 20% by 2020. Reindustrialisation in Europe is already the aim of wide-ranging policies and programmes amounting to almost €200 billion in funding, but more funding could be available.

Energy supply and energy security

Public expectations and EU commitment on energy supply and energy security

Public expectations and EU commitment on energy supply and energy security

The EU has had the power to decide energy policy since 2009, and aims to ensure a secure, sustainable and affordable energy supply for EU citizens. However, more than half of EU citizens would like to see the EU play a bigger role in energy security and supply. The Energy Union strategy provides a framework for further integration of European energy markets, but a more integrated single market for energy could result in annual efficiency gains worth €250 billion.

Read the complete briefing on:

See other policy areas covered with this Eurobarometer.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/08/12/public-opinion-and-eu-action-on-industrial-policy-energy-supply-and-security-exploring-the-expectations-gap/

How do MEPs stay connected with the world of science and technology?

Written by Nera Kuljanic with Sarah McCormack,

STOA, the European Parliament’s Science and Technology Options Assessment Panel, works to provide independent assessments of new developments in science and technology to policy-makers by conducting research projects and organising discussion forums involving policy-makers, experts and the public. It is governed by the STOA Panel, whose membership was enlarged in 2015 to include 24 MEPs from eight Parliamentary Committees. This is a very positive step, as it brings STOA closer to committee work and promises more diversity in debates about current and emerging technology trends and their impact on society.

IT grid

Shutterstock / Sergey Nivens

Building on a long tradition, STOA regularly hosts a number of workshops and other high-level events. Some look at more long-term developments, such as the workshop entitled ‘Robots, enabling the disabled or disabling the abled?‘, whereas others are organised around hot topics in research and innovation, with an interest for industry, such as graphene and quantum technologies, or the challenges of an emerging crisis, such as the Ebola outbreak. In December 2015, a high-level conference about online privacy and IT security in the EU, co-organised with the Civil Liberties, Justice & Home Affairs (LIBE) Committee, was opened with speeches by EP President Martin Schultz and the Chairmen of LIBE and STOA, Claude Moraes and Paul Rübig, respectively. In May 2016, STOA and the Japanese STS forum co-organised a conference on how science, technology and innovation could help societies in adapting to the changing world, with contributions from leading European and Japanese personalities from academia, industry and policy-making. This meeting helped further consolidate the close relationship the two groups have developed over the years, with STOA delegations regularly attending and contributing to the STS forum annual meetings. All these events bring leading experts in their fields together to discuss pressing issues and developments in the world of science and technology with policy-makers and the public.

The 14th edition of the STOA Annual Lecture, held on 9 December 2015, was dedicated to the topic of light and quantum optics. Professor Serge Haroche, recipient of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics, delivered the keynote speech. More than a hundred people attended the lecture and discovered the emerging world of quantum technologies, many of which have already changed our lives, such as transistors, lasers and GPS, while the second quantum revolution is under way, with a substantial contribution from Professor Haroche himself. The organisation of the next STOA Annual Lecture, planned for 16 November 2016, is well under way. If you are interested in how space activities and research are benefiting the industry and changing our lives, keep an eye on the STOA webpage, where the event programme and speakers will be announced after the summer.

Another recent highlight was the 4th round of the MEP-Scientist Pairing Scheme, hosted by STOA, which brought together 31 researchers from across Europe to be paired with MEPs, with the aim of increasing mutual understanding and creating long-standing cooperation between parliamentarians and scientists. Scientists presented their research activities to the MEPs they were paired with, learned about the work of the European Parliament and its different services, and accompanied MEPs in their daily activities, including in committee and political group meetings. The Members benefited from intense and in-depth discussions with their academic counterparts about topics with a scientific dimension currently on the EP agenda. This scheme promotes dialogue and reinforces science-for-policy and policy-for-science in the EP. STOA is currently organising the Pairing Scheme for the fifth time. Newly established MEP-scientist pairs will meet in November, in the framework of the ‘Science meets Parliaments’ event co-organised by STOA and the JRC, on 8 November 2016.

STOA also undertakes research projects to help Members get an in-depth understanding of the possible effects of techno-scientific developments on society and to support them in the decision-making process. Collaborative Internet and additive manufacturing technologies, ICT in the developing world and ethical aspects of robotics are topics covered by recently published STOA studies. Ongoing projects include: precision agriculture; assistive technologies for persons with disabilities; waste management; the impact of new technologies on the labour market and social economy; and additive bio-manufacturing (e.g. 3D-printing).

The new strategic orientation of STOA to enhance its scientific foresight activities is underlined by the production of EPRS publications on emerging techno-scientific trends, highlighting societal and legislative implications of new technologies such as drones, synthetic biology and metamaterials. With the scientific foresight approach, applied to several of its projects, STOA works to generate sound future-oriented evidence on scientific and technological issues to inform decision-makers in their current policy-making role.


Stay in touch with STOA via the EPRS blog, YouTube and on Twitter. Visit the STOA website to register for upcoming events, and let us know what you think of STOA studies or briefings you have recently read.


 

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/08/11/how-do-meps-stay-connected-with-the-world-of-science-and-technology/

The EU, the Middle East and North Africa [What Think Tanks are thinking]

Written by Marcin Grajewski,

Middle East And North Africa

© freshidea / Fotolia

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is of strategic importance for the European Union because of its proximity, historic links, energy resources, trade routes and ability to export instability that results from wars, political volatility and poverty in the region.

The EU wants to contribute to stability in MENA through such instruments as the European Neighbourhood Policy, the Barcelona Process and the Union for the Mediterranean.

This note offers links to recent commentaries and reports by major international think tanks EU-MENA relations, general problems of the region and some of its countries. More reports on the region can be found in a previous edition of ‘What Think Tanks are Thinking’ on the EU’s southern neighbourhood.

EU-MENA relations

Implications of the EU Global Strategy for the Middle East and North Africa
Barcelona Centre for International Affairs, July 2016

The unmet challenge of interdependence in the EU-MENA space: A view from the south
OCP Policy Centre, Bruegel, May 2016

Report on democracy assistance from the European Union to the Middle East and North Africa
European Policy Centre, German Marshall Fund, May 2016

The eastern Mediterranean in 2020: Possible scenarios and policy recommendations
Hellenic Foundation for European Foreign Policy, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, April 2016

North African and European strategic interests coincide
Barcelona Centre for International Affairs, April 2016

The EU and conflict resolution in the Mediterranean neighbourhood: Tackling new realities through old means?
Euro-Mediterranean Study Commission, European Institute of the Mediterranean, March 2016

For a New Deal: Africa–Mediterranean–Europe
Institut de Prospective Economique du Monde Méditerranéen, February 2016

Five years on. A new European agenda for North Africa
European Council on Foreign Relations, February 2016

US and EU engagement with Islamists in the MENA region
Transatlantic Academy, August 2015

Back to the future: the ‘new’ ENP towards the Southern neighbourhood and the end of ambition
College of Europe, January 2016

Europe still looks at southern neighbours
Carnegie Europe, March 2016

Other reports on MENA

Democratic citizenship in the Middle East and North Africa
Carnegie Europe, July 2016

China in the Eastern Mediterranean
Clingendael, July 2016

La diplomatie russe au Moyen-Orient : Retour à la géopolitique
Institut français des relations internationales, May 2016

The performance of banks in the MENA region during the global financial crisis
Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, May 2016

Countering violent extremism in the MENA region: Time to rethink approaches and strategies
EuroMesco, May 2016

Speaking up safely: Civil society guide to whistleblowing. Middle East and North Africa Region
Transparency International, May 2016

#HashtagSolidarities: Twitter debates and networks in the MENA region
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, March 2016

The changing patterns of arms imports in the Middle East and North Africa
Center for Strategic and International Studies, February 2016

The changing dynamics of cross-border human smuggling and trafficking in the Mediterranean
Istituto Affari Internazionali, October 2015

The human cost of war in the Middle East: A graphic overview
Center for Strategic and International Studies, February 2016

Youth activism in the South and East Mediterranean countries since the Arab uprisings: Challenges and policy options
Euro-Mediterranean Study Commission, European Institute of the Mediterranean, Istituto Affari Internazionali, February 2016

Les transformations géopolitiques dans la région MENA : Les dynamiques structurantes
Euro-Mediterranean Study Commission, European Institute of the Mediterranean, August 2015

Geopolitics and democracy in the Middle East
FRIDE, August 2015

Individual countries

Egypt

Salafi Jihadist violence in Egypt’s north Sinai: From local insurgency to Islamic State province
International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague, April 2016

The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in 2016: Scenarios and recommendations
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik, March 2016

Egypt’s botched revolution: Absolutism and the infelicitous role of external actors
Finnish Institute of International Affairs, August 2015

Libya

After Warsaw: A 3-point plan to manage migration through Libya
European Council on Foreign Relations, July 2016

Intervening better: Europe’s second chance in Libya
European Council on Foreign Relations, May 2016

Migration in Libya: Transit zone or final destination?
Overseas Development Institute, April 2016

Libye : Intervenir, encore?…
Institut français des relations internationales, April 2016

A stable Libya would close the door to Daesh
Centre for European Policy Studies, March 2016

Facts on the European dimension of displacement and asylum: Libya
Bertelsmann Stiftung, February 2016

Syria

From local actor to global threat: The so-called Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria
Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, April 2016

Steps toward stabilising Syria’s northern border
International Crisis Group, April 2016

Overview Syrian peace talks
Clingendael, March 2016

Enhancing aid architecture in the regional response to the Syria crisis
Overseas Development Institute, February 2016

Tunisia

The problem of two Tunisias has not gone away
Barcelona Centre for International Affairs, June 2016

Mapping out the scope and contents of the DCFTAs with Tunisia and Morocco
Centre for European Policy Studies, May 2016

Jihad instead of democracy? Tunisia’s marginalised youth and Islamist terrorism
Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, April 2016

What is new in the ‘borderlands’?: The influence of EU external policy-making on security in Tunisia and Morocco after the uprisings
Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, January 2016

Others

The EU, Morocco, and the Western Sahara: A chance for justice
European Council on Foreign Relations, June 2016

Europe and Israel: A complex relationship
Istituto Affari Internazionali, May 2016

The EU’s self-defeating aid policy towards Palestine
Centre for European Policy Studies, May 2016

EU-Iran Relations after the nuclear deal
Centre for European Policy Studies, May 2016

Yemen: Stemming the rise of a chaos state
Chatham House, May 2016

Iraq at War (again):- Perspectives and options for a long-term counter-terrorism and counter violent extremism strategy in Iraq
Clingendael, March 2016

Yemen: Is peace possible?
International Crisis Group, February 2016

EU-Morocco cooperation on readmission, borders and protection: A model to follow?
Centre for European Policy Studies, January 2016

Deciphering Algeria: The stirrings of reform?
European Council on Foreign Relations, December 2015

Algeria and its neighbours
International Crisis Group, October 2015

Periphery under pressure: Morocco, Tunisia and the European Union’s Mobility Partnership on migration
Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, October 2015

Realigning EU policy in Palestine: Towards a viable state economy and restored dignity
Chatham House, October 2015

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/08/10/the-eu-the-middle-east-and-north-africa-what-think-tanks-are-thinking/

Public opinion and EU action on the environment, and agriculture: exploring the expectations gap

Written by Clare Ferguson,

As over half of EU territory is rural, the vitality of the European countryside is a subject close to citizens’ hearts. The twin objectives of protecting the environment and promoting EU agriculture are thus high on the EU political agenda. A recent Eurobarometer survey demonstrates that citizens have a largely positive perception of EU action in these areas, but would like to see greater EU support. As the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and the objectives set by the Paris Agreement to combat climate change are very recent, EPRS looks at how these measures should go towards meeting citizens’ expectations.

Environmental protection

Public expectations and EU commitment on environmental protection

Public expectations and EU commitment on environmental protection

A majority of EU citizens would like to see increased EU action to protect the environment (with some geographical variations). However, Member States are responsible for financing and implementing the protection measures already agreed, and some gaps remain. EU policy aims to move towards a low-carbon, resource-efficient economy, to safeguard biodiversity and to protect human health through legislation on air, chemicals, climate, nature, waste and water. Implementing the Paris Agreement and the EU’s commitment to integrate climate action into all major EU policies, allocating at least 20% of the EU budget to climate action objectives, may help to bridge the expectation gap.

Agriculture

Public expectations and EU commitment on agriculture

Public expectations and EU commitment on agriculture

Everyone has heard of the ‘CAP’ – the Common Agricultural Policy – although few are well versed in the details of exactly how the EU supports farmers and ensures a secure food supply. The vast majority of Europeans (94%) consider agriculture and rural areas to be important for their future. Half of EU citizens, however, would like to see more EU intervention in agriculture. The EU reformed the CAP completely in 2013, introducing direct payments to farmers, environmental measures, and action to mitigate market volatility. The EU aims to ‘spend less but better’ on agriculture in future.

Read the complete briefing on:

See other policy areas covered with this Eurobarometer.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/08/09/public-opinion-and-eu-action-on-the-environment-and-agriculture-exploring-the-expectations-gap/

Podcasts of February 2016: Listen again!

Written by Richard Freedman,

Looking back at February 2016 (recorded at the end of January), the Plenary Podcasts focused on Mid-term review of the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy and European Parliament recommendations on Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA).

Mid-term review of the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy

Our biodiversity is at risk, and the truth is that EU Member States are not doing enough to protect it. This is one of the conclusions of the European Commission’s mid-term review of the EU biodiversity strategy. Well, after the EU failed to meet its target to halt biodiversity loss by 2010, in 2011 the EU adopted a biodiversity strategy setting a new headline target in 2020. Half way through the programme, in 2015, the European Commission looked back on the progress achieved so far.

And it didn’t quite like what it saw. In its mid-term review of the biodiversity strategy, the European Commission could only confirm that biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation have continued, albeit at a slower pace. In the February plenary session, MEPs adopted a resolution in which they welcomed the mid-term review of the biodiversity strategy, and the ‘State of Nature’ and ‘SOER 2015’ reports; stresses the strategic importance of these reports for achieving the EU’s biodiversity targets.

Listen to the plenary podcast Mid-term review of the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy [Plenary Podcast]

European Parliament recommendations on Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA)

The European Commission, acting on behalf of the 28 Member States, together with 22 other WTO members, are sitting around a table trying to crunch a deal to liberalise trade in services. But what are the details? What do EU citizens stand to win? And what does the European Parliament have to say with its enhanced powers to approve or reject the deal? In the resolution adopted by MEPs in February, MEPs stated that the ongoing talks on a Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), among countries representing 70% of world trade in services, should deliver a deal that eases EU firms’ access to international markets but does not force EU, national and local authorities to open up public services to competition, or otherwise restrict their right to regulate in public interest.

Listen to the Plenary Podcast European Parliament recommendations on Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA)

 


The Policy Podcasts in February highlighted the European Semester and the new Erasmus+ Programme.

European Semester

Achieving Europe’s 2020 targets of sustainable growth is a team effort that will require the coordination of Member States’ budgetary and economic plans. To lead this fiscal and economic choreography, the EU has set up the European Semester, a key element in the EU’s economic governance. The European Semester aims to detect, prevent, and correct dangerous economic trends such as excessive government deficits or public debt levels that could put a country, or the whole Euro area, into trouble again.

Listen to the Policy Podcast on the European Semester

Erasmus+ Programme

With a budget of €14.7 billion over 7 years, Erasmus Plus brings together seven existing programmes in the fields of education, training and youth. And, for the first time, it also includes sport, supporting grassroots projects and combating match-fixing, doping, violence and racism. Erasmus Plus supports transnational partnerships among education, training, and youth organisations in 33 different countries, bridging the worlds of education and work to tackle the skills gaps that Europe is facing.

Listen to the Policy Podcast on the Erasmus+ Programme

 

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/08/08/podcasts-of-february-2016-listen-again/

Public opinion and EU action on social protection: exploring the expectations gap

Written by Clare Ferguson,

Following the financial crisis, fears for the levels of social protection for EU citizens in the areas of health and social security, employment, and equality were at the forefront of much of the debate leading up to the recent United Kingdom EU referendum. Published in the wake of the British vote to leave the EU, a Eurobarometer survey gauges citizens’ perceptions of EU action in these sensitive areas. Europeans appear to be in favour of the EU giving increased priority to intervention in these areas. EPRS defines where the gaps between expectations and action exist, and highlights possible existing opportunities for the EU to increase its performance.

Health and social security

Public expectations and EU commitment on health and social security

Public expectations and EU commitment on health and social security

Almost two thirds of EU citizens would like to see more EU engagement in the areas of health and social security. EU health policy aims to support Member States to foster good health, protect citizens from health threats and support dynamic health systems. Social policy promotes social cohesion and solidarity through social protection and inclusion policies. The EU also encourages national pension reforms to ensure they are both adequate and sustainable. Tied to labour market measures, EU spending on social security has the second highest citizen support for policy spending. However, there is room for improvement in both health and social security policy…

The fight against unemployment

Public expectations and EU commitment on the fight against unemployment

Public expectations and EU commitment on the fight against unemployment

While combating unemployment has long been a European Union goal (as an important part of the Europe 2020 Strategy), citizens continue to demand more EU intervention and are keen to see results from the initiatives already begun. Action to date has included boosting employment through reduced taxes on labour, greater labour mobility, and better working conditions. The EU already supports start-ups and invests in education, vocational training and lifelong learning. Recent initiatives, aiming for a target of 75% of 20-64 year olds in employment by 2020, seek to make better use of available skills and enable rapid recognition of qualifications.

Equal treatment of men and women

Public expectations and EU commitment on equal treatment of men and women

Public expectations and EU commitment on equal treatment of men and women

Most Europeans appear to be aware of EU actions promoting the equal treatment of women and men, and agree that this area should be an EU priority. However, there is potential for the EU to provide greater support for actions to ensure equal pay, facilitate work-life balance and to combat violence against women. While a number of initiatives are already on the table, stakeholders have also expressed concerns about diminishing commitment to gender equality policy at EU level.

Read the complete briefing on:

See other policy areas covered with this Eurobarometer.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/08/05/public-opinion-and-eu-action-on-social-protection-exploring-the-expectations-gap/