Месечни архиви: October 2016

EU Global Strategy: turning a vision into action

Written by Patryk Pawlak,
Graphics by Christian Dietrich,

It was not invasion by a foreign army, or conflict between great powers, but increased migration of civilians escaping war, injustice or simply looking for better opportunities that demonstrated the fragility of the European Union’s security stance when confronted with a rapidly evolving security environment.

The EU Global Strategy (EUGS), presented by High Representative Federica Mogherini in June 2016, aims to give the European Union a collective sense of direction. However, not all 28 EU partners see eye to eye on this journey: while some wish to move faster and take shortcuts, others prefer to slow down, or sometimes follow a completely different path. Can everybody stay on course, move at the same pace and stay safe? Who leads the way?

On 8 November 2016, the European Parliamentary Research Service will host a roundtable to explore the ways forward in the implementation of the EU Global Strategy. The event entitled ‘The EU Global Strategy: From vision to action’, organised in cooperation with the EU Institute for Security Studies, provides an opportunity to discuss the challenges ahead and present ideas to Members of the European Parliament and EU officials directly involved in the process.

About the speakers

The keynote speaker is Antonio Missiroli, director of the EU Institute for Security Studies in Paris (EUISS), who coordinated the EU-wide outreach to think tank and research community throughout the EUGS drafting process and was a member of the European Commission Group of Personalities on the Preparatory Action for CSDP-related research. In his latest opinion piece on making Europe and Europeans safer, Director Missiroli explores the concepts linked to European defence and asks whether perhaps the various policy ideas and treaty provisions that relate to defence need to be looked at in a different light.

Director Missiroli’s remarks will be a useful introduction to the roundtable discussion between Members of the European Parliament Sandra Kalniete (EPP) and Urmas Paet (ALDE) – both serving at the Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET) – and Director Gabor Iklody from the European External Action Service. Both Sandra Kalniete and Urmaes Paet are experienced politicians and served as Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Latvia and Estonia respectively. Sandra Kalniete was the AFET rapporteur for the European Parliament’s resolution on the EU in a changing global environment adopted in April 2016. Urmaes Paet is rapporteur for the AFET own-initiative report on the European Defence Union, which will be voted at the European Parliament’s plenary session in November 2016. Gabor Iklody manages Crisis Management and Planning Directorate (CMPD) at the European External Action Service since June 2014. Prior to that, he served as NATO Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges.

Please check the programme for additional details and remember to register for the event before 4 November 2016.

The EU in a contested World

The EU in a contested World

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/10/28/eu-global-strategy-turning-a-vision-into-action/

Reviving risk capital: The proposal to amend EuVECA and EuSEF [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Angelos Delivorias (1st edition),

Capital Concept

© duncanandison / Fotolia

The European Venture Capital Funds (EuVECA) and European Social Entrepreneurship Funds (EuSEF) are collective investment schemes that have been harmonised at European Union (EU) level since 2011 by means of two regulations: (EU) No 345/2013 (EuVECA) and (EU) No 346/2013 (EuSEF). In its 2016 review, the Commission noted that these funds remain small and concentrated in a few Member States and that, while the take-up of EuVECA could be considered successful, the EuSEF results have been disappointing. Three main obstacles to further growth have been identified: limitations imposed on managers; product rules; and the (varying) application of regulatory fees in Member States with regards to funds’ marketing and management. To overcome those obstacles, the Commission has identified some measures that − by removing limitations on larger managers managing EuVECA and EuSEF funds, decreasing costs for EuVECA and EuSEF funds, and broadening the range of eligible assets EuVECA funds may invest in − should increase investment into these funds.

Versions

Stage: National Parliaments

 

 

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/10/28/reviving-risk-capital-the-proposal-to-amend-euveca-and-eusef-eu-legislation-in-progress/

Europe’s outermost innovation frontier: STOA Annual Lecture on Space

Written by Nera Kuljanic with James Tarlton,

It fires the imagination and drives innovation. For centuries, ideas about exploration and exploitation of outer space have been occupying our minds and shaping the identity of our species. Today, space could play an increasing role for our daily lives and development. As our ambitions for space exploration grow and the economy of space changes (demonstrated, for example, in the production of smaller and cheaper satellites); innovation in materials, medicine, robotics, energy generation and storage also provides for better terrestrial products and services. Where is Europe placed in the space game and how does each further step humanity takes into space change the rules of the game?

This year, STOA’s Annual Lecture will provide a platform for exploring these and many other questions. The event, entitled ‘Towards a space-enabled future for Europe’, will take place on 16 November 2016, and is organised jointly by STOA and the European Space Agency (ESA).

The European perspective

City lights - Europe

1xpert / Fotolia

The governance of space activities in Europe is based on cooperation between the EU, the European Space Agency (ESA), and their member countries. Motivation to maximise the impact that can be achieved with the budget available for space activities is strong.

The EU and ESA have two flagship programmes: Galileo and Copernicus. Galileo is a system of navigation satellites, designed to provide greater accuracy than the US-developed global positioning system (GPS). Copernicus is the world’s largest earth observation programme, with primary applications in climate change, emergency management and security. The EU also funds space research through programmes like Horizon 2020.

The European Commission presented the Space Strategy for Europe on 26 October 2016. Among the priorities are market uptake of space data by the public and private sectors and supporting private sector involvement and space entrepreneurship. The challenge  in implementing these new policies, is to reap societal and economic benefits for all Europeans, encourage rapid growth and stimulate industrial competitiveness, and promote European leadership in space.

About the speakers

The keynote speaker is Professor Sir Martin Sweeting, the founder and executive chairman of Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) and Director of the Surrey Space Centre. Passionate about space since his student days, Professor Sweeting developed one of the first ‘micro-satellites’ in 1979 and founded SSTL in 1985 to continue working on this technology. SSTL has gone from strength to strength – with Professor Sweeting as Chairman, it now has a €100 million annual turnover. Its affordable micro-satellites have enabled countries with smaller space budgets to enter the industry, while contributing to the work of the larger agencies and companies.

Sir Martin’s speech will be followed by the industry perspective, represented by Ariane Cornell of Blue Origin, perhaps best known for their work on re-usable landing rockets, dramatically reducing the cost per launch, and Johannes Von Thadden, from Airbus Defence and Space. Also speaking are ESA astronauts Thomas Pesquet and Reinhold Ewald.

MEPs Paul Rübig, STOA Chair, Mairead McGuinness, EP Vice-President responsible for STOA, and Eva Kaili, STOA First Vice-Chair, will also take part in the programme. The event will be moderated by Kai-Uwe Schrogl, ESA’s Chief Strategy Officer.

Interested in exploring Mars, but prefer to do it with both legs firmly set on Planet Earth? Attending the lecture is an opportunity to visit the exhibition STOA has set up with Europlanet and Knowedge4Innovation as part of the 8th European Innovation Summit.

Register for the event before 9 November 2016. Join the conversation on Twitter with #SpaceLecture2016.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/10/27/europes-outermost-innovation-frontier-innovation-stoa-annual-lecture-on-space/

Europe’s outermost innovation frontier innovation: STOA Annual Lecture on Space

Written by Nera Kuljanic with James Tarlton,

It fires the imagination and drives innovation. For centuries, ideas about exploration and exploitation of outer space have been occupying our minds and shaping the identity of our species. Today, space could play an increasing role for our daily lives and development. As our ambitions for space exploration grow and the economy of space travel changes; innovation, for example in materials, medicine, robotics, energy generation and storage, also provides for better terrestrial products and services. Where is Europe placed in the space game and how does each further step humanity takes into space change the rules of the game?

This year, STOA’s Annual Lecture will provide a platform for exploring these and many other questions. The event, entitled ‘Towards a space-enabled future for Europe’, will take place on 16 November 2016, and is organised jointly by STOA and the European Space Agency (ESA).

The European perspective

City lights - Europe

1xpert / Fotolia

The governance of space activities in Europe is based on cooperation between the EU, the European Space Agency (ESA), and their member countries. Motivation to maximise the impact that can be achieved with the budget available for space activities is strong.

The EU and ESA have two flagship programmes: Galileo and Copernicus. Galileo is a system of navigation satellites, designed to provide greater accuracy than the US-developed global positioning system (GPS). Copernicus is the world’s largest earth observation programme, with primary applications in climate change, emergency management and security. The EU also funds space research through programmes like Horizon 2020.

The European Commission presented the Space Strategy for Europe on 26 October 2016. Among the priorities are market uptake of space data by the public and private sectors and supporting private sector involvement and space entrepreneurship. The challenge  in implementing these new policies, is to reap societal and economic benefits for all Europeans, encourage rapid growth and stimulate industrial competitiveness, and promote European leadership in space.

About the speakers

The keynote speaker is Professor Sir Martin Sweeting, the founder and executive chairman of Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) and Director of the Surrey Space Centre. Passionate about space since his student days, Professor Sweeting developed one of the first ‘micro-satellites’ in 1979 and founded SSTL in 1985 to continue working on this technology. SSTL has gone from strength to strength – with Professor Sweeting as Chairman, it now has a €100 million annual turnover. Its affordable micro-satellites have enabled countries with smaller space budgets to enter the industry, while contributing to the work of the larger agencies and companies.

Sir Martin’s speech will be followed by the industry perspective, represented by Ariane Cornell of Blue Origin, perhaps best known for their work on re-usable landing rockets, dramatically reducing the cost per launch, and Johannes Von Thadden, from Airbus Defence and Space. Also speaking are ESA astronauts Thomas Pesquet and Reinhold Ewald.

MEPs Paul Rübig, STOA Chair, Mairead McGuinness, EP Vice-President responsible for STOA, and Eva Kaili, STOA First Vice-Chair, will also take part in the programme. The event will be moderated by Kai-Uwe Schrogl, ESA’s Chief Strategy Officer.

Interested in exploring Mars, but prefer to do it with both legs firmly set on Planet Earth? Attending the lecture is an opportunity to visit the exhibition STOA has set up with Europlanet and Knowedge4Innovation as part of the 8th European Innovation Summit.

Register for the event before 9 November 2016. Join the conversation on Twitter with #SpaceLecture2016.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/10/27/europes-outermost-innovation-frontier-innovation-stoa-annual-lecture-on-space/

Europe’s outermost innovation frontier innovation: STOA Annual Lecture on Space

Written by Nera Kuljanic with James Tarlton,

It fires the imagination and drives innovation. For centuries, ideas about exploration and exploitation of outer space have been occupying our minds and shaping the identity of our species. Today, space could play an increasing role for our daily lives and development. As our ambitions for space exploration grow and the economy of space travel changes; innovation, for example in materials, medicine, robotics, energy generation and storage, also provides for better terrestrial products and services. Where is Europe placed in the space game and how does each further step humanity takes into space change the rules of the game?

This year, STOA’s Annual Lecture will provide a platform for exploring these and many other questions. The event, entitled ‘Towards a space-enabled future for Europe’, will take place on 16 November 2016, and is organised jointly by STOA and the European Space Agency (ESA).

The European perspective

City lights - Europe

1xpert / Fotolia

The governance of space activities in Europe is based on cooperation between the EU, the European Space Agency (ESA), and their member countries. Motivation to maximise the impact that can be achieved with the budget available for space activities is strong.

The EU and ESA have two flagship programmes: Galileo and Copernicus. Galileo is a system of navigation satellites, designed to provide greater accuracy than the US-developed global positioning system (GPS). Copernicus is the world’s largest earth observation programme, with primary applications in climate change, emergency management and security. The EU also funds space research through programmes like Horizon 2020.

The European Commission presented the Space Strategy for Europe on 26 October 2016. Among the priorities are market uptake of space data by the public and private sectors and supporting private sector involvement and space entrepreneurship. The challenge  in implementing these new policies, is to reap societal and economic benefits for all Europeans, encourage rapid growth and stimulate industrial competitiveness, and promote European leadership in space.

About the speakers

The keynote speaker is Professor Sir Martin Sweeting, the founder and executive chairman of Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) and Director of the Surrey Space Centre. Passionate about space since his student days, Professor Sweeting developed one of the first ‘micro-satellites’ in 1979 and founded SSTL in 1985 to continue working on this technology. SSTL has gone from strength to strength – with Professor Sweeting as Chairman, it now has a €100 million annual turnover. Its affordable micro-satellites have enabled countries with smaller space budgets to enter the industry, while contributing to the work of the larger agencies and companies.

Sir Martin’s speech will be followed by the industry perspective, represented by Ariane Cornell of Blue Origin, perhaps best known for their work on re-usable landing rockets, dramatically reducing the cost per launch, and Johannes Von Thadden, from Airbus Defence and Space. Also speaking are ESA astronauts Thomas Pesquet and Reinhold Ewald.

MEPs Paul Rübig, STOA Chair, Mairead McGuinness, EP Vice-President responsible for STOA, and Eva Kaili, STOA First Vice-Chair, will also take part in the programme. The event will be moderated by Kai-Uwe Schrogl, ESA’s Chief Strategy Officer.

Interested in exploring Mars, but prefer to do it with both legs firmly set on Planet Earth? Attending the lecture is an opportunity to visit the exhibition STOA has set up with Europlanet and Knowedge4Innovation as part of the 8th European Innovation Summit.

Register for the event before 9 November 2016. Join the conversation on Twitter with #SpaceLecture2016.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/10/27/europes-outermost-innovation-frontier-innovation-stoa-annual-lecture-on-space/

Iceland ahead of the parliamentary elections

Written by Naja Bentzen,

The financial storm that swept Iceland in 2008 has had long-lasting effects on the country’s domestic political climate. Despite the remarkably speedy economic recovery, the post-crash political crisis has continued to evolve. New, alternative political movements have mushroomed, and the anti-establishment Pirate Party is expecting a big boost in the 29 October snap elections.

Background: Boom, bust, recovery and aftermath

Ballot box with national flag on background - Iceland

© niyazz / Fotolia

After Iceland declared independence from Denmark in 1944 to become a constitutional republic, the country quickly became one of the world’s most prosperous economies. While Iceland had relied heavily on fishery, aluminium smelting and increasingly growing tourism for a long time, its banking sector expanded aggressively worldwide from 2000. By 2008, the banks had grown to ten times the GDP and 20 times the state budget. The state could not afford to bail out the banks when they collapsed the same year, sparking public protests that forced the government coalition to step down in January 2009. Iceland received US$2.1 billion in aid from the International Monetary Fund and another US$2.5 billion loan from its Nordic neighbours. Since then, it has made a remarkably swift recovery. The latest economic survey by the OSCE (2015) indicated Iceland had reached full employment, lowered its public debt and entered its fifth year of economic recovery with prospects for continuing growth. However, although the tourist industry is booming, there is concern that the economy could overheat and steer towards another slump over the next five years.

Political parties between left and right, tradition and change

Despite a quick recovery, the crash sparked a prolonged political crisis that continues to shape the public debate today. Before 2008, four established political parties dominated the political landscape. To the right, the liberal conservative Independence Party (SSF) and the agrarian Progressive Party (FSF) ruled in government coalitions from 1997-2007. The more fragmented left wing, the Social Democratic Alliance (SF) and the Left-Green Movement (VGF), formed the first centre-left government in the country’s history in 2009, reflecting the public mood of the ‘pots and pans revolution’. New political movements have since mushroomed: 10 new parties entered the political scene ahead of the 2013 general election. While SSF and FSF was able to reclaim power and form yet another centre-right coalition government, then Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson (FSF) had to step down in April 2016 over his ties to an offshore investment company with multimillion-pound claims on Iceland’s failed banks, revealed in the Panama Papers leak. He was the first high-ranking casualty in the global scandal that sparked mass protests in Reykjavík and mounting calls for snap elections. As a result, Icelandic voters will elect 63 members of the Althingi (established in 930 and among the oldest running national parliaments in the world) for a four-year term on 29 October.

Independence Party: Iceland’s major liberal conservative, EU-sceptic party:

Formed in 1929 when the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party merged, the Independence Party (Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn, SSF) is historically the largest united centre-right political force in the country. Its reputation was dented in the bank crash, when angry crowds forced then party leader Geir Haarde (who had formed a government coalition with the SF in 2007) to resign in January 2009. In the following snap election, the SSF became the main target of public discontent, losing more than one third of its Althingi seats, but restored some of its support in the 2013 parliamentary elections, with 26.7 % of votes and 19 Althingi seats. Despite the Panama Papers scandal, recent polls suggest some 25 % public support for SSF. Led by Bjarni Benediktsson, the eurosceptic SSF joined the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists in 2011.

Progressive Party: from EU-sceptic to pro-EU and back again

Founded in 1916 as a merger of two farmers’ parties, Framsóknarflokkurinn (FSF) is an agrarian-based liberal centrist, and the country’s oldest, mainstream political party. Following the crisis, the party’s stance shifted from eurosceptic to pro-EU under then Chairman and PM Gunnlaugsson. The party (with no European affiliation) has since re-adopted its eurosceptic line. FSF won 24.4 % of the 2013 vote, translated to 19 Althing seats. Incumbent PM Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson (who succeeded Gunnlaugsson in April 2016) was elected FSF chairman on 2 October 2016, ending months of internal party turmoil, and falling public support.

Opposition: New and traditional parties

The Pirate Party: New, dominant anti-establishment force

Althingi election results, 2007-2013

Althingi election results, 2007-2013

Based on the ideologies of the Swedish Piratpartiet, Iceland’s Pirate Party (Píratar, PP) was founded by former WikiLeaks collaborator Birgitta Jónsdóttir in 2012. Píratar garnered 5 % of votes and won three Althingi seats in the 2013 election. Public support for the party (which advocates direct democracy, freedom of information and expression, asylum for US whistle-blower Edward Snowden, and has no formal stance on EU membership) has continued to grow. The PP (which has urged the Pokémon Go company to turn polling stations into Pokéstops to boost youth voter turnout) has led opinion polls for months. With some 20 % public support in recent public opinion polls, the Pirates are expected to see a massive boost on 29 October, not least because the Panama Paper leaks tainted the reputation of the established elite.

Bright Future: New pro-European, green liberal party with roots in FSF and SF

Bright Future (Björt framtíð, BF) was co-founded in 2011 by Guðmundur Steingrímsson, a former member of FSF, and Róbert Marshall from SF. The BF is pro-EU, favours adopting the euro and advocates liberal economic policies and environmental protection. BF garnered 8 % of votes and six seats in the Althingi in the 2013 election. Recent opinion polls suggest around 7 % public support for the BF. Chaired by Óttarr Proppé, the BF is a member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

A complete newcomer, the conservative pro-EU Viðreisn (Restoration) party enjoys 6.6 % public support.

Social Democratic Alliance: Pro-European, centre-left party with decreasing public support

Social Democratic Alliance (Samfylkingin, SF) was founded in 1999 when four smaller left-wing parties merged. In the 2003 general election, the SF became the second largest party with 20 seats in the Althingi. In 2008, the SF (a member of the Party of European Socialists) entered a government coalition for the first time with the SSF. Capitalising on the crash and PM Haarde’s (SSF) subsequent resignation, the SF became the country’s largest party in the 2009 snap election, securing the centre-left government coalition with VGF, led by Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir. Since then, public support for the pro-European, centre-left SF has declined significantly, and the party garnered only 12.8 % of votes in 2013, losing 10 of the 19 seats it secured in 2009. Under Oddný Harðardóttir, public support for the party dropped below 10 % in recent surveys.

Left-Green Movement: An EU-sceptic, radical and green alternative to the SF

Former members of the parties that merged in SF in 1999 formed the Left-Green Movement (Vinstrihreyfingin – Grænt framboð, VG) as a more leftist and radical alternative to the SF. The financial crisis boosted public support for the VG’s democratic socialist, feminist and EU-sceptic stance, and the party formed an interim government coalition with the SF in January 2009. Voters’ support for the VG peaked in the April 2009 snap election with 21.7% (14 seats), but was halved in 2013. Led by Katrín Jakobsdóttir, public support for the VG (a member of the Nordic Green Left Alliance) is between 1219 % in recent polls.


EU-Iceland relations: Iceland joined the European Free Trade Association in 1970 and the European Economic Area (EEA) in 1992 (the EEA Agreement entered into force in 1994). In the wake of the financial crisis, the centre-left coalition government applied for EU membership in 2009. EU accession negotiations opened in June 2010. In 2013, the new centre-right, eurosceptic coalition government suspended accession negotiations. Reykjavík reconfirmed there were no plans to join the EU in March 2015. Public support for EU membership peaked in 2008, dropping to 24 % (with 63 % against joining the bloc) in early 2013 amid the harsh IceSave dispute over British and Dutch account holders’ deposit losses in the Icelandic bank Landsbankinn crash. The European Parliament’s delegation for relations with Iceland was formed in 1987, and the EU-Iceland Joint Parliamentary Committee was established in 2010.


Download this at a glance note on ‘Iceland ahead of the parliamentary elections‘ in PDF.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/10/27/iceland-ahead-of-the-parliamentary-elections/

Iceland ahead of the parliamentary elections

Written by Naja Bentzen,

The financial storm that swept Iceland in 2008 has had long-lasting effects on the country’s domestic political climate. Despite the remarkably speedy economic recovery, the post-crash political crisis has continued to evolve. New, alternative political movements have mushroomed, and the anti-establishment Pirate Party is expecting a big boost in the 29 October snap elections.

Background: Boom, bust, recovery and aftermath

Ballot box with national flag on background - Iceland

© niyazz / Fotolia

After Iceland declared independence from Denmark in 1944 to become a constitutional republic, the country quickly became one of the world’s most prosperous economies. While Iceland had relied heavily on fishery, aluminium smelting and increasingly growing tourism for a long time, its banking sector expanded aggressively worldwide from 2000. By 2008, the banks had grown to ten times the GDP and 20 times the state budget. The state could not afford to bail out the banks when they collapsed the same year, sparking public protests that forced the government coalition to step down in January 2009. Iceland received US$2.1 billion in aid from the International Monetary Fund and another US$2.5 billion loan from its Nordic neighbours. Since then, it has made a remarkably swift recovery. The latest economic survey by the OSCE (2015) indicated Iceland had reached full employment, lowered its public debt and entered its fifth year of economic recovery with prospects for continuing growth. However, although the tourist industry is booming, there is concern that the economy could overheat and steer towards another slump over the next five years.

Political parties between left and right, tradition and change

Despite a quick recovery, the crash sparked a prolonged political crisis that continues to shape the public debate today. Before 2008, four established political parties dominated the political landscape. To the right, the liberal conservative Independence Party (SSF) and the agrarian Progressive Party (FSF) ruled in government coalitions from 1997-2007. The more fragmented left wing, the Social Democratic Alliance (SF) and the Left-Green Movement (VGF), formed the first centre-left government in the country’s history in 2009, reflecting the public mood of the ‘pots and pans revolution’. New political movements have since mushroomed: 10 new parties entered the political scene ahead of the 2013 general election. While SSF and FSF was able to reclaim power and form yet another centre-right coalition government, then Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson (FSF) had to step down in April 2016 over his ties to an offshore investment company with multimillion-pound claims on Iceland’s failed banks, revealed in the Panama Papers leak. He was the first high-ranking casualty in the global scandal that sparked mass protests in Reykjavík and mounting calls for snap elections. As a result, Icelandic voters will elect 63 members of the Althingi (established in 930 and among the oldest running national parliaments in the world) for a four-year term on 29 October.

Independence Party: Iceland’s major liberal conservative, EU-sceptic party:

Formed in 1929 when the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party merged, the Independence Party (Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn, SSF) is historically the largest united centre-right political force in the country. Its reputation was dented in the bank crash, when angry crowds forced then party leader Geir Haarde (who had formed a government coalition with the SF in 2007) to resign in January 2009. In the following snap election, the SSF became the main target of public discontent, losing more than one third of its Althingi seats, but restored some of its support in the 2013 parliamentary elections, with 26.7 % of votes and 19 Althingi seats. Despite the Panama Papers scandal, recent polls suggest some 25 % public support for SSF. Led by Bjarni Benediktsson, the eurosceptic SSF joined the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists in 2011.

Progressive Party: from EU-sceptic to pro-EU and back again

Founded in 1916 as a merger of two farmers’ parties, Framsóknarflokkurinn (FSF) is an agrarian-based liberal centrist, and the country’s oldest, mainstream political party. Following the crisis, the party’s stance shifted from eurosceptic to pro-EU under then Chairman and PM Gunnlaugsson. The party (with no European affiliation) has since re-adopted its eurosceptic line. FSF won 24.4 % of the 2013 vote, translated to 19 Althing seats. Incumbent PM Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson (who succeeded Gunnlaugsson in April 2016) was elected FSF chairman on 2 October 2016, ending months of internal party turmoil, and falling public support.

Opposition: New and traditional parties

The Pirate Party: New, dominant anti-establishment force

Althingi election results, 2007-2013

Althingi election results, 2007-2013

Based on the ideologies of the Swedish Piratpartiet, Iceland’s Pirate Party (Píratar, PP) was founded by former WikiLeaks collaborator Birgitta Jónsdóttir in 2012. Píratar garnered 5 % of votes and won three Althingi seats in the 2013 election. Public support for the party (which advocates direct democracy, freedom of information and expression, asylum for US whistle-blower Edward Snowden, and has no formal stance on EU membership) has continued to grow. The PP (which has urged the Pokémon Go company to turn polling stations into Pokéstops to boost youth voter turnout) has led opinion polls for months. With some 20 % public support in recent public opinion polls, the Pirates are expected to see a massive boost on 29 October, not least because the Panama Paper leaks tainted the reputation of the established elite.

Bright Future: New pro-European, green liberal party with roots in FSF and SF

Bright Future (Björt framtíð, BF) was co-founded in 2011 by Guðmundur Steingrímsson, a former member of FSF, and Róbert Marshall from SF. The BF is pro-EU, favours adopting the euro and advocates liberal economic policies and environmental protection. BF garnered 8 % of votes and six seats in the Althingi in the 2013 election. Recent opinion polls suggest around 7 % public support for the BF. Chaired by Óttarr Proppé, the BF is a member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

A complete newcomer, the conservative pro-EU Viðreisn (Restoration) party enjoys 6.6 % public support.

Social Democratic Alliance: Pro-European, centre-left party with decreasing public support

Social Democratic Alliance (Samfylkingin, SF) was founded in 1999 when four smaller left-wing parties merged. In the 2003 general election, the SF became the second largest party with 20 seats in the Althingi. In 2008, the SF (a member of the Party of European Socialists) entered a government coalition for the first time with the SSF. Capitalising on the crash and PM Haarde’s (SSF) subsequent resignation, the SF became the country’s largest party in the 2009 snap election, securing the centre-left government coalition with VGF, led by Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir. Since then, public support for the pro-European, centre-left SF has declined significantly, and the party garnered only 12.8 % of votes in 2013, losing 10 of the 19 seats it secured in 2009. Under Oddný Harðardóttir, public support for the party dropped below 10 % in recent surveys.

Left-Green Movement: An EU-sceptic, radical and green alternative to the SF

Former members of the parties that merged in SF in 1999 formed the Left-Green Movement (Vinstrihreyfingin – Grænt framboð, VG) as a more leftist and radical alternative to the SF. The financial crisis boosted public support for the VG’s democratic socialist, feminist and EU-sceptic stance, and the party formed an interim government coalition with the SF in January 2009. Voters’ support for the VG peaked in the April 2009 snap election with 21.7% (14 seats), but was halved in 2013. Led by Katrín Jakobsdóttir, public support for the VG (a member of the Nordic Green Left Alliance) is between 1219 % in recent polls.


EU-Iceland relations: Iceland joined the European Free Trade Association in 1970 and the European Economic Area (EEA) in 1992 (the EEA Agreement entered into force in 1994). In the wake of the financial crisis, the centre-left coalition government applied for EU membership in 2009. EU accession negotiations opened in June 2010. In 2013, the new centre-right, eurosceptic coalition government suspended accession negotiations. Reykjavík reconfirmed there were no plans to join the EU in March 2015. Public support for EU membership peaked in 2008, dropping to 24 % (with 63 % against joining the bloc) in early 2013 amid the harsh IceSave dispute over British and Dutch account holders’ deposit losses in the Icelandic bank Landsbankinn crash. The European Parliament’s delegation for relations with Iceland was formed in 1987, and the EU-Iceland Joint Parliamentary Committee was established in 2010.


Download this at a glance note on ‘Iceland ahead of the parliamentary elections‘ in PDF.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/10/27/iceland-ahead-of-the-parliamentary-elections/

A guide to EU procedures for the conclusion of international trade agreements

Written by Laura Puccio,

Wooden Blocks with the text: Trade

© gustavofrazao / Fotolia

The European Union (EU) was the world’s biggest exporter and importer of goods and services in 2015, representing 32.51 % of global trade in goods and services. The USA and China, meanwhile, accounted for 12.01 % and 10.68 % respectively.

The EU has been negotiating trade agreements since the 1970s, then as the European Communities. Over time it has diversified its trading partners, and is now negotiating trade agreements with partners from every continent. The content of trade agreements has also evolved as EU trade competences have developed. The EU is currently in the process of amending and modernising some of its older trade agreements and is working on some of the most ambitious trade agreements since its inception (such as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the USA).

The Lisbon Treaty modified both the EU’s competences in trade and the procedure for concluding trade agreements, giving a stronger role to the European Parliament. This briefing looks at how trade negotiations are conducted and concluded in the EU, and discusses some of the key issues in the current EU trade policy debate.

Read the complete briefing on ‘A guide to EU procedures for the conclusion of international trade agreements‘.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/10/26/a-guide-to-eu-procedures-for-the-conclusion-of-international-trade-agreements/

Indonesia: Economic indicators and trade with EU

Written by Martin Rusell and Giulio Sabbati (both EPRS),

In cooperation with Laura Bartolini (from GlobalStat | EUI),

Which economy grew faster over the past 15 years – the EU or Indonesia? How many Indonesian women have a job, and what is the unemployment rate? Which country is Indonesia’s biggest trading partner? What kind of products does the EU import from Indonesia? How does Indonesia compare with the global average in terms of human development, income inequality and corruption?

You can find the answers to these and other questions in our EPRS publication on Indonesia: economic indicators and trade with EU, one of a series of infographics on the world’s main economies produced in collaboration with the European University Institute’s GlobalStat.

Download this infographic on ‘Indonesia: Economic indicators and trade with EU‘ in PDF.


GlobalStat, a project of the EUI’s Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies and the Francisco Manuel dos Santos Foundation aims to offer the best available gateway to statistical data. It is easily accessible, intuitive to use, and free of charge. In just three clicks it offers data from 1960 onwards for 193 UN countries, five continents and 12 political and regional entities – including the European Union – gathered from over 80 international sources. The project, presents data as diverse as income distribution, water resources, housing, migration, land use, food production, nutrition, or life expectancy, which contributes to a better understanding of the interrelations between human living conditions and globalisation trends.


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Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/10/26/indonesia-economic-indicators-and-trade-with-eu/

Wintertime: why change the clocks?

Citizens recurrently turn to the European Parliament with comments on the changing of the clocks. Some citizens are in favour of the summertime /wintertime arrangements; others call on the Parliament to abolish it. On Sunday 30 October clocks go back one hour, but why?

In fact, twice a year the clocks in all EU Member States are switched back by one hour from summer to wintertime (on the last Sunday in October) and forward one hour from winter to summertime (on the last Sunday in March).


This is an updated version of EP Answer:
Summertime: changing the clocks‘ published on 24 March 2016


Harmonising varying summertime arrangements

The standard time is wintertime and during the summer the time is put forward 60 minutes. The decision on the standard time falls within the competence of Member States. Most Member States had introduced summer time in the 1970s, although some had started applying it much earlier for varying lengths of time. Since the 1980s the EU legislator, i.e. the European Parliament and the Council, have adopted several directives harmonising step by step the varying summertime arrangements, in order to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market. The main idea is to provide stable, long-term planning which is important for the proper functioning of certain economic sectors, especially transport.

EU legislation and its implications

The current reference text in EU legislation with regard to summertime arrangements for all Member States is Directive 2000/84/EC. In 2007, the European Commission published a report on the impact of this directive, providing a chronology of the European legislation and its implications for different sectors of activity.

In 2014, the Commission commissioned another study on the harmonisation of summertime in Europe. The study, entitled ‘The application of summertime in Europe‘, concludes that if summertime was not harmonised in the Union, it would entail substantial inconvenience and disturbance for citizens and businesses alike. The study also includes scenarios of abolishing summertime in one or more Member States and looks at the effects of this asynchronous application of summertime in the EU.

Public hearing and parliamentary questions

Clock switch to winter time

Maxim Pavlov / Fotolia

In view of the concerns expressed by citizens regarding the summertime arrangements, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have submitted various parliamentary questions asking whether the Commission is planning to propose to repeal Directive 2000/84/EC on summertime arrangements. In its answer of 1 September 2016, the Commission refers to the abovementioned study and concludes that, at this stage, it has no intention to propose the revision or repeal of Directive 2000/84/EC. Furthermore, the Commission states in its reply of 3 February 2016‘that Directive 2000/84/EC (also called Summertime Directive) obliges all Member States to switch from winter‐ to summer-time and vice-versa, at the precise points in time specified therein. The aim is to ensure the proper operation of the internal market, notably (but not exclusively) in the areas of transport and communications. Omission by a Member State of those changes would amount to a breach of the Summertime Directive.’

Furthermore, three parliamentary committees held a joint public hearing entitled ‘Time to Revisit Summer Time?‘ on 24 March 2015. Since the hearing, new parliamentary questions have been submitted, pointing to experts’ findings that the current summertime arrangements have more negative than positive effects.

The public hearing on summertime changes in Europe and the subsequent oral question of 25 September 2015 addressed to the Commission were also subject to a plenary debate on 29 October with Violeta Bulc, European Commissioner for Transport.

During the debate, the Commissioner stated that different studies on the subject matter examined by the Commission present mixed results and no conclusive argument was to be gained from them regarding potential impacts on health, energy savings or other impacts. Furthermore the Member States consulted by the Commissioner were divided on this subject. ‘So, at this stage, the Commission is not considering changes to the relevant directive but, should new evidence emerge and a more systemic approach be put forward, we would be willing to reconsider that position’, Commissioner Bulc stated.

European Parliament action

In that direction, several Members of the European Parliament have put an oral question to the Commission of 17 October 2016. MEPs ask for a full assessment of the costs and benefits of the directive in particular for energy, health, agriculture and transport sectors, the effects on citizens’ health, in particular on sensitive people such as children and the elderly and the impact on competitiveness of European industry, including energy prices and consumption. A debate on the switch between summer and winter time is scheduled for the October Strasbourg plenary session (24-27 October), the verbatim report and video of the debate for 27 October 2016 will be available here.

Petitions

For years, the summertime arrangements have also been subject of petitions that citizens have submitted to the European Parliament’s Committee on Petitions, for example Petition 1477/2012. Information on petitions and procedures for submitting a petition to the European Parliament are available on the Parliament’s Petitions website.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/10/26/wintertime-why-change-the-clocks/