Месечни архиви: септември 2016

The EU and Western Balkans [What Think Tanks are Thinking]

Written by Marcin Grajewski,

The European Union has given countries of the Western Balkans perspective of membership and offers financial and political incentives for reform. From the region, only Croatia so far joined the EU, in 2013. Montenegro, Serbia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania are official candidate countries. Entry negotiations started with Montenegro and Serbia, in 2012 and 2015, respectively. Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo are potential candidate countries.

The European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, has said he does not expect any country to join the EU during his term in office, which ends in 2019, as many analysts and politicians believe the Union must overcome its internal problems before expanding further. The EU also wants to give the countries time for progress in their reforms, related to the 1993 “Copenhagen” membership criteria, which would make their political and economic systems compatible with EU standards.

This note offers links to recent commentaries, studies and reports on the topic from major international think tanks on EU links with Western Balkans and the political and economic situation of the countries in the region.  More publications on the EU enlargement can be found in a previous edition of ‘What Think Tanks are Thinking.’

Western Balkans map

© harvepino /Fotolia

Is the EU turning a blind eye to the ‘new strongmen’ of the Balkans?
Centre for European Policy Studies, July 2016

The Western Balkans need a clear EU perspective
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik, July 2016

To be or not to be an EU member state: A question for the Balkan aspirants as well?
European Policy Centre, Brussels, July 2016

Losing the Western Balkans in Paris
Centre for South East European Studies, July 2016

Brexit or Not? What Consequences for the Enlargement Policy?
European Policy Centre, Belgrade, July 2016

The migrant crisis: A catalyst for EU enlargement?
Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group, June 2016

Elusive development in the Balkans: Research findings
Wiener Institut für Internationale Wirtschaftsvergleiche, June 2016

Backwardness, industrialisation and economic development in Europe: The developmental delay in Southeastern Europe and the impact of the European integration process since 1952
Wiener Institut für Internationale Wirtschaftsvergleiche, June 2016

A narrative explanation of breakpoints and convergence patterns in Yugoslavia and its successor states 1952-2015
Wiener Institut für Internationale Wirtschaftsvergleiche, June 2016

Neuer Islamismus und islamische Radikalisierung am Balkan: Aktuelle Entwicklungen und Gefahrenpotentiale
Österreichische Institut für Internationale Politik, June 2016

Serbia and the EU: A value-based EU still has its appeal
European Policy Centre, Belgrade, EUForum, June 2016

Les Balkans occidentaux, pierre de touche de la politique étrangère allemande et européenne
Institut français des relations internationales, May 2016

The agony of Macedonia: Where is the EU?
Centre for European Policy Studies, May 2016

PrEUgovor report on progress Serbia in chapters 23 and 24
Belgrade Centre for Security Policy, May 2016

At the gate of Europe: A report on refugees on the Western Balkan route
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Dialogue Southeast Europe, May 2016

Are the Western Balkans imploding?
Carnegie Europe, May 2016

The long march towards the EU: Candidates, neighbours and the prospects for enlargement
Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies, April 2016

The Serbian media and the dialogue: Has there been an evolution in how Serbian media perceive Kosovo?
Group for Legal and Political Studies, April 2016

Kosovo: The limits of international post-conflict governance
Barcelona Centre for International Affairs, April 2016

The Western Balkans: Back in the EU spotlight
European Union Institute for Security Studies, March 2016

The EU and the Western Balkans: Do they share a future?
Barcelona Centre for International Affairs, March 2016

Return to instability: How migration and great power politics threaten the Western Balkans
European Council on Foreign Relations, March 2016

Balkan partnerships: Strengthening the region’s ties
Friends of Europe, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, March 2016

Paradoxes of stabilisation: Bosnia and Herzegovina from the perspective of central Europe
Centre for Eastern Studies, March 2016

Escaping the first circle of hell or the secret behind Bosnian reforms
European Stability Initiative, March 2016

EU enlargement to the Western Balkans: Out of sight, out of mind?
EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy, February 2016

Forever on the periphery? The return of geopolitics to EU enlargement to the Balkans
Polish Institute of International Affairs, February 2016

To serve and protect: A story about security sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Populari, February 2016

Western Balkans: Between geography and geopolitics
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Dialogue Southeast Europe, January 2016

Albania and Kosovo: In quest of a common future
Albanian Institute for International Studies, January 2016

The Western Balkans and its EU integration: 2015 comparative overview
Think for Europe Network, December 2015

The EU Strategy for the Adriatic-Ionian Region one year later: The fatigues of the process
Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso, December 2015

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/09/27/the-eu-and-western-balkans-what-think-tanks-are-thinking/

The Western Balkans and the EU: Enlargement and challenges

Written by Velina Lilyanova,
Graphics by Christian Dietrich,

Western Balkans

© European Union, EPRS

The challenges ahead of the EU and the current candidate, and potential candidate, countries – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia – are multiple and, to some extent, different compared to the past. First, the EU itself is in a different situation. In 2014, the European Commission’s newly elected president announced a five-year halt to enlargement. In June 2016, the UK voted to leave the EU, an event unprecedented in Union history. Second, the Western Balkan countries present a case more complex than previous EU candidates, because apart from making a difficult transition to democracy while struggling economically, they face the legacy of relatively recent armed conflict and have bilateral disputes to resolve. And yet, despite the seemingly more distant prospect of further enlargement, the EU has recently confirmed that the integration of the Western Balkans remains on the agenda and is a matter of mutual interest.

For the aspirant countries, however, ‘the bar for accession has been set higher’ because of the evolving enlargement policy, with its increased focus on conditionality and reshuffled priorities. One novelty is a new EU approach, which brings rule of law to the fore As this is a major area of concern, in which reforms take longer, the EU has decided to open rule of law Chapters 23 and 24 in the negotiation process first. An argument in favour of this approach is that post-accession monitoring has not proven efficient, as in the case of Bulgaria and Romania. Another highlight is an increased focus on regional cooperation. While enlargement is on hold, cooperation could give fresh impetus to the region’s economic performance, reconcile societies and prepare them for eventual EU entry.

Read the complete briefing on ‘The Western Balkans and the EU‘.


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Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/09/27/the-western-balkans-and-the-eu-enlargement-and-challenges/

Low and negative interest rates: Overview of policy aims and possible effects

Written by Angelos Delivorias,

Financial chart graph

© theaphotography / Fotolia

When examining the current interest rate levels in the USA and Europe, two movements can be observed. First, a sustained decline in long-term interest rates that has lasted for the better part of the last two decades. That has been driven by demographic factors, the progressive integration of China into global capital markets, and − after the global financial crisis − a decline in the propensity to invest coupled with a search for safe assets. Second, there has been a similar decrease in short-term interest rates, which is the result of monetary policy choices, aimed at easing financing conditions in the economy, to support economic recovery.

In the euro area, this has led to an intense debate over the current level of interest rates, which pits the European Central Bank (ECB) against Member States and financial industry representatives.

Member States, especially those with a high rate of savers in the population, claim that the current interest rates translate into very low (and soon, possibly negative) returns for savers, effectively incentivising them to engage in riskier investments instead of the prudent accumulation of capital. Similarly, they affect both pensioners − given that their consumption depends on the return they get on their savings − and those saving for retirement (because they slow the rate of accumulation of pension assets). This, they claim can have repercussions both in terms of stability − if the search for yield creates bubbles − as well as creating social tensions. As for industry representatives, they claim that the current environment is depressing their revenues and making their models unsustainable.

The ECB responds that very low rates are the symptom of an underlying problem − i.e. the global excess of savings over profitable investments. For this reason, the challenges created by the current environment must be met by sustainable fiscal policies, structural reforms and by taking further steps to complete the European Monetary Union. Such steps would encompass the full transposition into national law of the relevant directives (e.g. the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (BRRD)) by all Member States, the setting up of a credible common backstop to the Single Resolution Fund, and the launch of a European Deposit Insurance Scheme (EDIS).

Several recent papers examine the current situation. They find that, in the short term, different financial institutions will be affected differently − depending on their market power and balance-sheet structures. But if the current situation prevails, even in the medium term, it could potentially have a severe impact on the income of banks, (pension and investment) funds and life insurers, and force them to fundamentally review their asset-liability management models. This may result in a search for yield that could increase the risk of bubbles (and potentially bursts) and heighten market volatility.

In this context, the European supervisory authorities and the IMF have stressed the importance of interaction between the competent national authorities and financial institutions, as well as the need to collect more and better data, establishing global standards and analysing (including through stress tests) the various risks inherent to these institutions.

Read the complete in-depth analysis on ‘Low and negative interest rates‘.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/09/27/low-and-negative-interest-rates-overview-of-policy-aims-and-possible-effects/

Precision Agriculture, what is it and how can it affect farming in Europe? A new study

Written by Lieve Van Woensel with Sarah McCormack,

Agricultural land

Peter Gudella / Shutterstock

Precision agriculture (or precision farming) aims to generate more output in agricultural activities while using less input (water, energy, fertilisers, pesticides …). It is a management concept, taking the precise needs of crops and livestock into account. Precision agriculture is mainly based upon a combination of sensor technologies, GPS, and the internet of things. It has been making its way into farms across Europe and we are already able to see how it assists farmers in their work.

Currently the European Parliament’s Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) Panel is conducting a study entitled ‘Precision agriculture and the future of farming in Europe’. This Scientific Foresight study aims to identify relevant legislative pathways by mapping concerns regarding future developments in precision agriculture. The first part of the study, the technical horizon scan, has been published. The final study, looking into the impact precision agriculture will have on the future of farming in the EU, will follow later this year.

Read the study on
Precision Agriculture and the Future of Farming in Europe: Technical Horizon Scan

There are several enabling technologies required to implement precision agriculture. These include object identification technologies, sensors, Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), information and communication technologies (ICTs), robotics and autonomous vehicles. These technologies are being used in three main sectors of agriculture: arable farming, dairy farming and forage production, and vegetable production.

What technologies are being used?

For precision agriculture to be successful, it requires sensors. Sensors capture spatial and temporal variations in the environment. They can assist farmers by capturing variations in crops, animal behaviour, soils and climate, and can measure properties, such as thermal, optical, chemical and mechanical. In precision agriculture, sensors are already being used to quantify crop biomass, climate and soil properties, and animal behaviour. Other uses of sensors, such as for the detection of pests & diseases and crop quality are expected in the future.

Another enabling technology is object identification technology. This tracks and traces animals, and agricultural and supply chain products. An example of this is Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID), which has been used since the 1960s and works by using electromagnetic fields to both identify and track tags, which are attached to an object and contain electronic information about it. Recently, other technologies for object identification have been used, such as barcodes and QR-codes. These technologies require a tag on the object itself, whereas the identification of untagged objects is the next step for these technologies.

There are currently two types of autonomous vehicles, which are crucial in precision agriculture. The first are vehicles like tractors or mobile platforms fitted with technologies that allow them to undertake specific interventions in farm buildings or to successfully navigate fields. Examples of these vehicles are autonomous lawn mowers and autonomous platforms that can weed plants. The other are aerial systems, such as drones, which monitor and provide data relevant for interventions. Across EU Member States, rules and guidelines are being developed to ensure that the operators of these vehicles, other citizens, other traffic, and the environment are kept safe.

Robotics in dairy farming

There are three steps in precision agriculture: sensing, thinking and acting. The final step is also known as robotics and it uses advanced technologies to undertake particular tasks, if possible autonomously. These machines, alongside optimised hardware design, use mechatronics that require little or no human intervention, meaning that the operator becomes more of a supervisor of the machine. In dairy farming, robotics have been introduced, in the form of automated feeding systems and milking robots. They also take over heavy-duty tasks such as supplying roughage and cleaning out manure.

In addition to robotics, the dairy farming and forage production sector has benefitted from precision agriculture by using sensors. Sensors have already been integrated in process control systems and are able to support tasks and detect the behaviour of the cows. Currently, health indicators are being developed for this sector, for example collars that detect coughing. It is also being explored as to whether the data gathered by devices, such as the milking and feeding robots, can be connected to improve both animal health and productivity.

Object identification technologies have a part to play in dairy farming. For instance, when a cow enters the robotic milking machine, her tag is read and she is identified. The farmer is then provided with information, e.g. regarding her weight, how much milk she is producing, how much she has eaten, etc.

Precision agriculture practices in arable farming

One of the first precision applications in arable farming was controlled traffic farming. This applies GNSS to farm equipment to drive in the fields on fixed paths, also known as ‘tram lines’. GNSS is important for precision agriculture as it provides geo-references of the spatial variations captured by sensors. Knowing where you are in a field allows for the reduction of overlay. This in turn results in the reduction of the energy, water and agro-chemicals used. Yield mapping is another precision agriculture application which is widely used. These maps provide farmers with a visualisation of the variations in crop performance. This information can be used to adjust the amount and location of pesticide use.

How are these technologies used in field-grown vegetable farming?

There are three main applications of precision agriculture technology in vegetable farming. Selective harvesting is one of these, which allows for the harvesting of only those vegetables that are of the right quality. The second are tractors that navigate themselves with a precision sprayer, which sprays only how much is needed and where, resulting in a more than 30% reduction in pesticide use and saves labour. Finally, non-chemical weed control in vegetable crops uses a combination of sensor technology and weeding actuators.

There can be little doubt that precision agriculture will bring about significant changes and benefits. New skills will be required of farmers, who will have to adapt to these technologies and methods and we will see improvements in the quality of the environment. These are some of the issues that will be addressed in the final study to be published later this year.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/09/26/precision-agriculture-what-is-it-and-how-can-it-affect-farming-in-europe-a-new-study/

Jewish communities in the European Union

Written by Magdalena Pasikowska-Schnass and Anja Radjenovic,

Europe’s Jewish population has been diminishing in recent decades, and a growing number of anti-Semitic acts and anti-Jewish violence have been occurring in recent years in the EU. In defence of its values, including respect for minorities, the EU undertakes and funds actions to counter anti-Semitism.

Diminishing Jewish population

The Jewish population in the EU declined from about 2 million in 1991 to 1.4 million in 2010, though it is difficult to give precise numbers as some countries do not collect ethnic data. Immigration to Israel is the main factor behind the trend, which has intensified in recent years, among other things due to harassment, discrimination and hate crimes against Jews.

Growing violence against Jews

Illustration of two hands protecting or giving a chandelier

© jpgon / Fotolia

Centuries ago, Jews were persecuted as a religious minority, while in the last century the belief that Jews were a threat to the state was a driving force behind the Holocaust. Today Jews are targeted mainly because of events in the Middle East, although some anti-Semitic sentiments also revolve around the Holocaust. According to a report by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), the main perpetrators of anti-Semitic incidents are neo-Nazis, far-right or far-left sympathisers, Muslim fundamentalists and the younger generation. The report states that anti-Semitic behaviour is mainly characterised by denial and trivialisation of the Holocaust, glorification of the Nazi past, anti-Semitic sentiment due to property-restitution laws and hatred because of Israeli policies. It includes verbal and physical violence; threats; insults of Jews going to synagogues; harassment of rabbis; repeated attacks on Jews wearing symbols of their religion; hate speech; anti-Semitic bullying in schools; and damage to property, including arson.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu encouraged French Jews to come to Israel after the killings of kosher supermarket customers in Paris in January 2015, four years after a deadly attack against a Jewish school in Toulouse. Many Jews are considering following his advice, although some eventually return. According to a 2013 survey on anti-Semitism in eight European Union Member States, 21% of respondents experienced verbal or physical violence or harassment because they were Jews. The numbers may underestimate the reality, since 76% of victims of anti-Semitic hate crime do not report it.

Read also our at a glance note on
Dialogue of the EU institutions with religious and non-confessional organisations‘.

Legal provisions to combat discrimination and xenophobia on the EU level

Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union sets human dignity, freedom, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, and the rights of persons from minorities, as EU common founding values. The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union declares in Article 1 that human dignity is inviolable and must be respected and protected. Its Article 21 prohibits any discrimination in the EU on ethnic or religious grounds.

A Framework Decision on combating certain forms and expression of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law was adopted in 2008, calling upon Member States to ensure that public incitement to violence or hatred on grounds of race, religion, descent, or ethnic or national origin are punishable. The December 2013 Council Conclusions on combating hate crime in the EU called upon Member States to fully transpose the framework decision into their national legislation and implement it, and the European Commission to assess the measures established by Member States. A 2014 Commission implementation report pointed to shortcoming in the implementation and the Commission committed itself to hold dialogues with Member States to ensure full and correct transposition.

The Audiovisual Media Services Directive states that Member States shall ensure that audiovisual media services provided by media service providers under their jurisdiction do not contain any incitement to hatred based on race, sex, religion or nationality. Equally, under the Directive on Electronic Commerce, Member States may take measures to derogate from freedom to provide information society services for reasons of the fight against any incitement to hatred on grounds of race, sex, religion or nationality. Discrimination on the basis of religion is currently forbidden in the field of employment under the Employment Equality Directive. A comprehensive legal framework to address discrimination on the grounds of religion and belief beyond employment (Equal Treatment Directive), which would include areas such as social protection, education and access to goods and services, is currently being discussed by the Council of the EU.

The EU institutions undertake regular dialogue with representatives of religions and non-confessional or philosophical organisations.
In that context, the Parliament is holding a meeting on ‘the future of the Jewish communities in Europe‘, on 27 September.

Fundamental Rights Agency

The EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) is tasked with monitoring and researching discrimination and anti-Semitism, and offering evidence-based solutions and suggestions. FRA’s 2015 overview of data on anti-Semitism points to the lack of comparable data on anti-Semitism, which makes the phenomenon difficult to assess clearly, but confirms that anti-Semitism is still of concern in the EU.

European Union contribution to combat anti-Semitism

Through different funding and programmes, the EU has contributed to countering anti-Semitism and has addressed religious fundamentalism and radicalisation. In May 2016, the European Commission and IT companies announced a code of conduct on hate speech on the internet, to protect freedom of speech while putting in place barriers to hate speech and terrorist propaganda.

Holocaust education

A 2006 FRA project on education on the Holocaust and human rights highlighted the role of school education on sites of remembrance, and the human rights perspective on the Holocaust. In 2010, FRA published a handbook for teachers and for Holocaust museums operators, establishing links between the Holocaust and human rights.

Europe for Citizens, Creative Europe, research and education programmes against stereotypes

Europe for Citizens, an EU programme to raise citizens’ knowledge of the EU, its history and diversity, has supported projects of the CEJI (Centre Européen Juif d’Information) Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe, a Jewish non-profit international organisation promoting a diverse and inclusive Europe at EU level. Its diversity education and training targets anti-Semitism and other kinds of discrimination. In 2016 it received a two-year research grant from the Commission for the project ‘Facing Facts! – make hate crime visible’ on reporting, and recording of hate crime and speech, and training on these issues. The ‘Engaging Jewish communities’ project focuses on monitoring hate crime against Jewish, Roma, and homosexual minorities.

Belieforama’s projects, funded from EU research and Lifelong Learning (LLL) programmes, are devoted to the study of religious diversity, including agnostic and atheist views, anti-discrimination, namely anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, and ways of overcoming it, in view of adult education. The Creative Europe programme, supporting cultural funding, co-funds ‘Shakespeare in and beyond the Ghetto’, a project on intolerance and cultural exchange which will share its findings in four participating Member States, in summer schools, symposia, artistic workshops on different media. The 2016 work programme of the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme (budget of €439 million for the 2014-2020 period) will fund projects which prevent and combat intolerance and discrimination. Its priorities lie, among others, in grassroots projects preventing and combatting anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred and intolerance.

The European Parliament – recent activities

The March 2015 EP resolution on the EU’s priorities for the UN Human Rights Council in 2015 condemned the killings in a Jewish supermarket in Paris and in a Copenhagen synagogue. In September 2015 the EP adopted a resolution on the situation of fundamental rights in the EU (2013-2014), concerned with the rise of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, as well as the growing numbers of Jews planning to leave Europe. It called for Member States and the Commission to adopt policies to combat all forms of racism, including both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. Two months later in its resolution, ‘Prevention of radicalisation and recruitment of European citizens by terrorist organisations’ the EP considered that the fight against discrimination, particularly Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, is complementary to the prevention of terrorist extremism.

In February 2016, an EP Working Group on Anti-Semitism and the EP Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup co-organised a roundtable on the outcomes of the first annual European Commission colloquium on fundamental rights, anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred. Its participants expect that the appointment by the Commission of coordinators on anti-Semitism and Anti-Muslim hatred will contribute to develop a strategy to combat hate crime, intolerance, discrimination and hate speech, not least on the internet, where it is growing.

Download this at a glance note on ‘Jewish communities in the European Union‘ in PDF.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/09/26/jewish-communities-in-the-european-union/

The role of Altiero Spinelli on the path towards European Union

Written by Renato Lugarini,

Altiero Spinelli

© European Union

On 14 February 1984, the European Parliament debated and adopted the draft ‘Treaty establishing the European Union’, also known as the ‘Spinelli Draft’ after the rapporteur-coordinator of the parliamentary committee that drafted the text. Two years later, on 23 May 1986, Altiero Spinelli died in Rome. Now, 30 years on, Spinelli and the draft treaty he championed are considered to be key elements in the European Union’s integration process. Yet the draft treaty was just the culmination of the political career of Spinelli – a man who was able to imagine a united Europe even before the European Community was born.

The way Spinelli’s thinking and work developed can be better understood if we consider first the arguments set out in the Ventotene Manifesto and then his activities in the European Federalist Movement, right up until his entry into the European institutions as a Commissioner and then Member of the European Parliament.

Not only did this Italian politician, during his career, live through the various stages of European integration, he often anticipated them. He pursued the goal of establishing a political union between the countries of Europe with determination and confidence to the very end. The final step was to be taken within the institution that Spinelli had always considered to be the most representative and best suited to playing a leading role in the integration process – the European Parliament.

Read the complete briefing on ‘The role of Altiero Spinelli on the path towards European Union‘.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/09/23/the-role-of-altiero-spinelli-on-the-path-towards-european-union/

Turkey since the failed July 2016 coup

Written by Philippe Perchoc,

Location Turkey. Red pin on the map.

© Zerophoto / Fotolia

For the last two decades Turkey has faced a highly destabilised regional environment: to the north with recent conflicts around the Black Sea; to the east with the frozen southern Caucasus conflicts, and United States-led intervention followed by civil war in Iraq; and to the south with the civil war in Syria and the Arab-Israeli conflict. The civil war in Syria has prompted a huge influx of refugees into Turkey. With more than 2.7 million refugees, Turkey is the country with the biggest refugee population in the world. After a brilliant period of growth over the past 15 years, the externally dependent Turkish economy now has external and internal challenges to face, including the recent fall in foreign direct investment, difficulties with refugee integration and higher unemployment.

The leading Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi or AKP), in power since late 2002, faced its first difficulties in the June 2015 general election, in the wake of a struggle to impose control on a highly politicised civil service. After the failed military coup of July 2016, in which the opposition parties mobilised with the AKP to preserve democracy, the government launched a major purge on civil servants affiliated with the Gülen movement, which it blames for the coup. The failed coup has prompted a more rapid rapprochement with Russia and an apparent shift in Turkey’s foreign policy.

In recent years, and especially since July 2016, the relationship between Turkey, a candidate country, and the EU has been challenging, but remains crucial to both sides.

Read the complete briefing on ‘Turkey since the failed July 2016 coup‘.



Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/09/22/turkey-since-the-failed-july-2016-coup/

A fiscal capacity for the euro area? Options for reforms to counter asymmetric shocks

Written by Alessandro D’Alfonso and Andrej Stuchlik,

Euro sign

© Wolfgang Cibura / Fotolia

Beginning in 2010, the sovereign debt crisis exposed weaknesses in the economic and monetary union (EMU), the integration process that brought about the creation of the euro. Member States and EU institutions have taken a number of measures to tackle these shortcomings, including stricter rules on economic governance and setting up the European Stability Mechanism. Ideas to further strengthen EMU include the creation of a specific ‘fiscal capacity’ for the countries that have adopted the single currency. In the longer term, this could lead to the establishment of a dedicated euro-area budget.

In 2012, policy documents from EU institutions envisaged steps towards fiscal union, coupling budgetary discipline with solidarity tools. Two main functions are identified for an EMU fiscal capacity: 1) promoting structural reforms; 2) mitigating macro-economic shocks which affect only some euro area countries.

During 2013, the debate focused on the creation of a ‘convergence and competitiveness instrument’ (CCI) that would aim to promote structural reforms. A CCI would have encompassed both contractual arrangements, through which Member States commit themselves to key structural reforms, and financial incentives to facilitate the implementation of those reforms. Already in late 2013, after the immediate threat of failing financial markets had decreased, the political will to pursue work on CCIs faded, while the discussion on an all-encompassing EMU reform resumed after the European elections in May 2014.

While overall real GDP growth in the euro area remains sluggish (-0.3% in 2013, 0.9% in 2014 and 1.1% in 2015), divergence between Member States in the monetary union has grown recently. Against the backdrop of crises in Cyprus (2013) and Greece (2014, 2015), the European Council assumed a more important role discussing EMU reform, involving all major European institutions. Building upon earlier work in 2012, the Five Presidents’ Report of June 2015 spelled out specific steps and institutional elements on how to ‘complete’ the monetary union. Several policy options are currently under discussion, some including automatic stabilisation instruments (such as European unemployment insurance), and some containing more room for political discretion (such as a public investment strategy).

The European Parliament’s Committee on Budgets (BUDG) and Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) are jointly preparing a report on a budgetary capacity for the euro area. In May 2016, the two rapporteurs presented a draft report on a budgetary capacity for the euro area, combining three different pillars: an instrument to incentivise structural reforms, a pillar to counter asymmetric shocks in individual Member States, and a third pillar to mitigate the effects of symmetric shocks for the euro area as a whole.

Proper democratic scrutiny of EMU economic governance, with new measures in this area possibly having implications for the European Parliament, and the question of political feasibility, are also central components of this debate.

Read the complete in-depth analysis on ‘A fiscal capacity for the euro area?‘.

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Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/09/21/a-fiscal-capacity-for-the-euro-area-options-for-reforms-to-counter-asymmetric-shocks/

EU environmental policies [What Think Tanks are Thinking]

Written by Marcin Grajewski,

World Globe in hands


Environmental protection is a comprehensive and well-established policy in the European Union. The environmental standards set by the Union are among the strictest in the world and the development of a sustainable economy is treated as a priority. Despite efforts to water down standards or renationalise policy, EU legislation has established more than 130 environmental targets and objectives to be met between 2010 and 2050. The EU is the world leader in efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions responsible for climate change.

This note offers links to commentaries, studies and reports on the topic from major international think tanks on EU environmental policies.  More publications on the EU role in securing an agreement in Paris last year on handling climate change can be found in a previous edition of ‘What Think Tanks are Thinking.’

Reports on Paris Agreement on climate change

Green taxes in a post-Paris world: Are millions of nays inevitable?
Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and Development, June 2016

Die Rolle von Allianzen in der internationalen Klimapolitik nach Paris
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, May 2016

Musterschüler? Frankreich, Deutschland und Europa in den Verhandlungen über das Paris-Abkommen zum Klimaschutz
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik, May 2016

EU and China: Leadership after COP21
Hellenic Foundation for European Foreign Policy, March 2016

After Paris: What is next for Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs)?
NewClimate Institute for Climate Policy and Global Sustainability, March 2016

Challenges and lessons learned in the preparation of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs)
NewClimate Institute for Climate Policy and Global Sustainability, March 2016

Dans les coulisses de la COP21
La Vie des Idées, February 2016

Conditionality of intended nationally determined contributions
NewClimate Institute for Climate Policy and Global Sustainability, February 2016

Other papers

The importance of cities and regions in delivering the Paris objectives and scaling up climate ambition
Heinrich Böll Foundation, September 2016

Carbon dating: When is it beneficial to link ETSs?
Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and Development, August 2016

Understanding the circular economy in Europe, from resource efficiency to sharing platforms: The CEPS framework
Centre for European Policy Studies, July 2016

Renewables, allowances markets, and capacity expansion in energy-only markets
Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and Development, July 2016

Moving towards a circular economy: Europe between ambitions and reality
Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft Köln, June 2016

Urban air pollution: Local response to a global challenge
Friends of Europe, June 2016

Germany on the road to a circular economy?
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, June 2016

Governing climate change in the Mediterranean: Fragmentation in dialogue, markets and funds
Institute for European Studies, May 2016

Inclusion of consumption into Emissions Trading Systems: Legal design and practical administration
Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, May 2016

Rethinking power markets: Capacity mechanisms and decarbonisation
Overseas Development Institute, May 2016

Learning the lessons of the greening of the CAP
Institute for European Environmental Policy, April 2016

EU transition towards green and smart mobility
Clingendael, March 2016

Study to analyse differences in costs of implementing EU policy across Member States
Institute for European Environmental Policy, March 2016

Conclusions and recommendations on fighting environmental crime more effectively
Ecologic Institute, European Union Action to Fight Environmental Crime, March 2016

Brexit: The Implications for UK environmental policy and regulation
Institute for European Environmental Policy, March 2016

Finance et climat: Quels enjeux?
Institut de relations internationales et stratégiques, March 2016

Installation entries and exits in the EU ETS industrial sector
Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, March 2016

Something worth fighting for: The evolution of lobbying coalitions in the Emissions Trading System
College of Europe, March 2016

Circular economy: Silver bullet for the EU’s competitiveness and sustainability?
Friends of Europe, February 2016

An overarching policy mix for fostering sustainable consumption and production: Synthesis of potential impacts
Ecologic Institute, February 2016

Time to connect the dots: What is the link between climate change policy and the circular economy?
Centre for European Policy Studies, January 2016

Study on assessing the environmental fiscal reform potential for the EU28
Eunomia, January 2016

Resource efficiency indicators for policy-making
Centre for European Policy Studies, November 2015

Reaching for blue gold: How the EU can rise to the water challenge while reaping the rewards
European Policy Centre, November 2015

Towards a sustainable European economy
European Policy Centre, October 2015

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/09/20/eu-environmental-policies-what-think-tanks-are-thinking/