Месечни архиви: January 2017

Inspections of ro-ro ferries and high-speed passenger craft [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Marketa Pape (1st edition),

ferry boat in Zadar

© annavaczi / Fotolia

The European Commission, in line with its regulatory fitness and performance programme (REFIT), has evaluated existing EU legislation on passenger ship safety and presented three proposals for directives, aimed at simplifying rules and cutting administrative costs, while at the same time making sea travel safer.

This proposal seeks to rationalise inspections conducted by national administrations while ensuring a high level of passenger ship safety and without unnecessarily limiting the ship’s commercial operations, making the inspections system for these ships simpler, more effective and cheaper. This would be achieved by changing focus from initial company-based inspections to ship-based ones and by ensuring that subsequent inspections occur at regular intervals.



Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/01/25/inspections-of-ro-ro-ferries-and-high-speed-passenger-craft-eu-legislation-in-progress/

Registration of persons on board passenger ships [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Marketa Pape (1st edition),

passengers boarding ferry

© Stephen Finn / Fotolia

The European Commission, in line with its regulatory fitness and performance programme (REFIT), has evaluated existing EU legislation on passenger ship safety and presented three proposals for directives, aimed at simplifying rules and cutting administrative costs, while at the same time making sea travel safer.

This proposal seeks to amend the requirements set by Directive 98/41/EC for counting and registering passengers and crew on board passenger ships, and to remove any overlap in reporting obligations or disproportionate requirements. The main change introduced is the digitalisation of reporting obligations to ensure that search and rescue services have immediate access to information on passengers on board.



Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/01/24/registration-of-persons-on-board-passenger-ships-eu-legislation-in-progress/

Reducing air pollution: National emission ceilings for air pollutants [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Didier Bourguignon (6th edition)

Reducing air pollution: National emission ceilings for air pollutants

© daizuoxin / Fotolia

Despite significant progress in recent decades, air pollution levels in the European Union still have adverse impacts on the environment and on health. The European Commission estimates that health-related costs of air pollution in the EU range from 390 to 940 billion euros per year.

The proposed directive, which would replace the current National Emission Ceilings Directive, sets binding national reduction objectives for six air pollutants (SO2, NOx, NMVOCs, NH3, PM2.5 and CH4) to be met by 2020 and 2030. It will also implement the Gothenburg Protocol as amended in 2012. The European Commission estimates that implementation costs would range from 2.2 to 3.3 billion euros per year.

After completion of the legislative procedure at first reading in the European Parliament and the Council, the presidents of the co-legislators signed the final act on 14 December 2016. Member States are required to transpose the new directive into national law by 1 July 2018.


Stage: adoption


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Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/01/23/reducing-air-pollution-national-emission-ceilings-for-air-pollutants-eu-legislation-in-progress/

EU budget reform [What Think Tanks are thinking]

Written by Marcin Grajewski,

Budget folder

© kemaltaner / Fotolia

A long-running discussion on reforming the European Union’s budget gained momentum when the High-Level Group on Own Resources, led by former Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, presented its report in January 2017. The report proposes simpler methods for funding the EU, to make it less reliant on direct contributions from Member States, and recommends that spending be focused on areas where the highest European added value can be achieved, now, for example migration and security emergencies.

The report, entitled ‘Future financing of the EU‘, lists and examines several options for new own resources, such as a reformed VAT-linked resource, an EU corporate tax, a financial transaction tax or taxes linked to efforts to fight climate change. It also proposes to explore other revenue sources stemming directly from the EU policies and programmes. The report will be taken into consideration by the European Commission and EU Member States when they work on the EU’s next long-term budget after 2020.

This note offers links to reports and commentaries from some major international think tanks and research institutes on the EU budget. Some papers also discuss whether the euro area should have its own, dedicated budget.

Brexit et budget de L’UE: Menace ou opportunité
Jacques Delors Institute, Bertelsmann Stiftung, January 2017

The future of the EU budget: Between dream and reality
Clingendael, December 2016

Reforming the EU’s Budget Revenue: The case for a visible VAT-based resource
Centre for European Policy Studies, November 2016

The multiannual financial framework post-2020: Balancing political ambition and realism
Centre for European Policy Studies, November 2016

The EU Budget’s mid-term review with its promising reform proposals the Commission lays the groundwork for the next, post-2020 budget
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, October 2016

A sustainable finance plan for the EU
E3G, October 2016

What are the prerequisites for a euro-area fiscal capacity?
Bruegel, September 2016

Can the EU spend more green? The CAP and the environment in future EU budgets
Policy Network, September 2016

The Impact of Brexit on the EU budget: A non-catastrophic event
Centre for European Policy Studies, September 2016

Is Horizon 2020 really more SME-friendly? A look at the figures
Centre for European Policy Studies, September 2016

Keeping Europeans together: Assessing the state of EU cohesion
European Council on Foreign Relations, September 2016

The potential and limitations of reforming the financing of the EU budget
Centre for European Policy Studies, CATT/UPPA, University of London July 2016

Brexiting yourself in the foot: Why Britain’s eurosceptic regions have most to lose from EU withdrawal
Centre for European Reform, June 2016

EU budgetary responses to the ‘Refugee Crisis’ reconfiguring the funding landscape
Centre for European Policy Studies, May 2016

The budget of the European Union: A guide
Institute for Fiscal Studies, April 2016

The economic strategy of stateless nations in the framework of the European cohesion
Centre Maurits Coppieters, March 2016

Which fiscal union for the euro area?
Bruegel, February 2016

Federalising the Eurozone: Towards a true European budget
Institute Affaire Insternazionali, December 2015

Flexibility in the EU Budget: Are there limits?
Clingendael, December 2015

The political economy of the 2014-2020 Common Agricultural Policy: An imperfect storm
Centre for European Policy Studies, August 2015

Reforming the financing of the European Union: A proposal
Centre for European Economic Research, May 2015

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/01/20/eu-budget-reform-what-think-tanks-are-thinking/

Digital skills in the EU labour market

Written by Monika Kiss,

Digital skills in the EU labour market

© kantver / Fotolia

Information and communications technologies (ICT) play an increasingly important role in our professional and private lives, and digital competence is of growing importance for every individual. In the future, nearly all jobs will require digital skills.

However, European Commission figures show that two fifths of the EU workforce have little or no digital skills. In addition, despite continued high levels of unemployment, there could be 756 000 unfilled jobs in the European ICT sector by 2020.

This situation is even more challenging in certain geographical areas (such as south-eastern Europe), among socially vulnerable groups (in particular, the unemployed and the disabled) and the elderly. Despite favourable developments in the digital literacy of citizens, the digital gap needs to be narrowed further.

Digitalisation has several impacts on the labour market. On the one hand, new business models, products and machines create new jobs, while on the other hand, automation contributes to the elimination of jobs or their relocation to countries with lower labour costs. To remedy this situation, developing the digital skills of the EU workforce is essential.

Reducing the mismatch between the skills available and those demanded for the digital transformation of the economy has been a key EU-level priority over the past decade. For instance, a 2008 communication entitled ‘New skills for new jobs’ emphasised the increasing need for digital skills in the shift to a low-carbon economy. Furthermore, the 2010 Digital Agenda recognised the need for indicators to measure the extent of digital competence in the EU. This was implemented through the development of the Digital Competence Framework (‘Dig Comp’), enabling citizens to evaluate their digital skills, and the Digital Economy and Society Index (‘DESI’), summarising relevant indicators on Europe’s digital performance and tracking the evolution of EU Member States in the area of digital competitiveness.

The Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs, a multi-stakeholder partnership created in 2013, aims to facilitate collaboration between business and education providers, and between public and private actors, and has already created 60 functional pledges in 13 countries.

The 2016 New Skills Agenda aims to improve the quality of skills training and to make the skills acquired more visible and comparable from one country to another. Data on ICT skills should also be improved in order to better anticipate developments and help people make better career choices. Skills acquired in non-formal ways should also be assessed and validated.

Possible solutions developed in the EU Member States include encouraging and enabling people to acquire the skills needed, enhancing the labour mobility of digitally skilled people and promoting cross-border skills policies. Improving skills supply can be done by encouraging people to offer their skills on the labour market and by retaining skilled people in the labour market. Putting skills to effective use by creating better matches between skills offered and demanded, and by increasing the demand for high-level skills can also contribute to improving the situation.

Read the complete in-depth analysis on ‘Digital skills in the EU labour market‘.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/01/20/digital-skills-in-the-eu-labour-market/

Making difficult decisions in agriculture: STOA Workshop

Written by Mihalis Kritikos and Nera Kuljanic,


Sergey Nivens / Fotolia

Scientists have new technological answers to the twin challenges of limiting emissions and feeding a growing population which is simultaneously shrinking the space left for cultivation. However, these answers in turn pose their own ethical and risk management questions. Societal actors and a wide range of stakeholders have long sought to broaden the scope of authorisation and regulation of agricultural biotechnologies to take into account the relevant socio-economic impacts. Assessing the socio-economic sustainability, societal benefits and ethical acceptability of agricultural biotechnologies in the frame of the established risk assessment procedures has, for a long time, been debated at both EU and international levels. However, the increasingly rapid developments in the field of genetic engineering and synthetic biology trigger a need to re-examine the traditional risk assessment model and explore the deployment of methodologies that may further reinforce the responsiveness and inclusiveness of the current framework.

On 25 January 2017, STOA is organising a workshop to discuss these issues, continuing STOA’s practice of discussing the socio-ethical dimensions of techno-scientific developments. The workshop will be chaired by Marijana Petir, MEP and STOA Panel member. Former President (2010-2016) of the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (EGE), Julian Kinderlerer, will give the opening presentation on innovation and bioethics, and will moderate the event.

What to expect from the event?

The workshop will provide space for a debate on this challenging aspect of public policy and will offer the opportunity to analyse the feasibility and necessity for inclusion of socio-economic considerations into the current framework.

The various methodological options for assessment, the role of participatory involvement in risk governance and the practical steps and indicators that could be introduced in risk assessment and decision-making related to synthetic biology and genetic modification in agriculture will be discussed by Helge Torgersen, of the Institute of Technology Assessment, Austrian Academy of Sciences, and Anne Ingeborg Myhr, of the Genøk-Centre for Biosafety, Tromsø, Norway. For example, in Norway, sustainability, benefit to society and ethics are important criteria in GMO assessment prior to cultivation, import, and use as food or feed. The workshop will look at how this has evolved.

Put simply, if a measure, an action or a policy could harm the public or the environment, and there is no scientific consensus that it is not harmful, then one willing to act must prove the absence of danger. This is known as the precautionary principle, which belongs to the domain of risk management. However, there are differences in the way this is defined and applied across the world. Amir Muzur, from the School of Medicine, University of Rijeka, Croatia, will speak on the comparison between application in the EU and the USA.

How could policy-makers in the EU deal with socio-ethical considerations, as well as the regulatory challenges raised by scientific uncertainty, the speed of technological advance, technological complexity and issues related to public perception? How is this shaping decision-making in the field of agricultural biotechnologies? Register for the workshop before 20 January 2017 and take part in the discussion.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/01/19/making-difficult-decisions-in-agriculture-stoa-workshop/

Crowdfunding in Europe: Introduction and state of play

Written by Angelos Delivorias,


© blende11.photo / Fotolia

Crowdfunding is a relatively ‘young’ form of financing – especially for SMEs and start-ups, but also for not-for-profit projects – that is developing fast in Europe. While researchers point out its benefits, among them the fact that project owners have greater control, and financial risk is spread among a larger number of people, they also note its drawbacks. The latter include a high cost of capital, occasional displays of a ‘herd mentality’, capable of depriving potentially worthier projects of adequate funding, and risks for investors from incompetence or fraud on the part of the project owners, and unclear regulations.

The European Commission (through a communication and two reports) and the European Parliament (through three resolutions) have taken an active interest in this form of financing. As a result, the Commission recently conducted a study on the state of the European crowdfunding market. It found that, while crowdfunding is developing fast, it is still concentrated in a few countries (the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands), which have introduced tailored domestic regimes, and that it remains, for the time being, a national phenomenon with limited cross-border activity. The study therefore concluded that for the moment there is no strong case for EU-level policy intervention. Nonetheless, given the encouraging trends and the potential of crowdfunding to become a key source of financing for SMEs over the long term, the Commission noted that it will maintain regular dialogue with European supervisory authorities, Member States and the crowdfunding sector to monitor and review its development.

Read the complete briefing on ‘Crowdfunding in Europe: Introduction and state of play‘.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/01/19/crowdfunding-in-europe-introduction-and-state-of-play/

Fostering social innovation in the European Union

Written by Nora Milotay and Giovanni Liva,

Word Cloud "Social Innovation"

© laufer / Fotolia

Strengthening the social dimensions of European Union policies, in general, and of the economic and monetary union, in particular is an increasingly important discourse across the Member States, particularly since the 2008 financial crisis. Social innovation, which is gaining increasing importance in the public, private and third (i.e. voluntary, non-profit) sectors, can greatly contribute to addressing the growing challenges, such as migration, poverty and global warming. The European Union particularly promotes social innovation through employment and social policies as well as policies on the single market.

The main initiatives explicitly target the governance and funding mechanism of social innovation, including its regulatory environment, powering public-sector innovation, the social economy, as well as providing policy guidance and fostering new policy practices. Due to the complexity of the concept and ecosystem of social innovation and its very diverse contexts in the Member States, European Union policies have varied impact: regulations can have controversial effects in terms of visibility of initiatives, and many organisations still cannot access sufficient funding. To make these initiatives more effective it is important to know more about the impact of social innovation, including its social and environmental value and the importance of these for the economy.

Read the complete briefing on ‘Fostering social innovation in the European Union‘.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/01/19/fostering-social-innovation-in-the-european-union/

With a unified approach, the EU could boost its global role – EPRS conference

Written by Marcin Grajewski,

EPRS Economic Governance

EPRS – EP-EUI Policy Roundtable: Global Economic governance: what role for the EU ?

Economic decisions taken at inter- and supranational level have recently come under fire from populists and protectionists. However, with better coordination between Member States, the European Union could play a stronger role in representing the needs of its citizens in global economic governance. Concerted pressure from EU and euro area countries acting together in fora such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), or the G20, would help to make the world’s economic decision-making system more transparent and accountable, according to politicians and analysts speaking at a conference organised by the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS). The event, entitled ‘Global economic governance: what role for the EU?’, took place in the European Parliament Library Reading Room on 12 January 2017.

The damaging financial crunch of 2008 and the ensuing recession have forced the IMF, the G20 informal group of the world’s biggest economies, the World Bank, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Basel Committee of central banks, and other institutions, to act urgently to try to restore economic growth and ward off any repetition of such economic disaster. But the crisis, which has destroyed tens of millions of jobs and thrown millions into poverty, has undermined popular trust in traditional elites. The conference heard that public opinion has turned against globalisation and in favour of trade protectionism.

EPRS Economic Governance

EPRS – EP-EUI Policy Roundtable: Global Economic governance: what role for the EU ?

Sylvie Goulard, member of the EP’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, said citizen’s growing distrust in the economic governance system has been exacerbated by its confusing and complicated nature. ‘I was not in a position to tell my voters: who decides on the economy, who is really taking a decision. Is it parliament or is the financial industry itself that frames the activity? Many citizens in the EU and elsewhere feel that they do not choose the people who are making decisions.’ Sylvie Goulard added that the IMF, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Basel Committee, and the World Trade Organization (WTO) all have a different status, based on different governance powers – while the G20 is not very democratic. ‘When the system is complicated, it should at least be transparent.’

According to many analysts, some of these global institutions could be more effective if reformed, notably to reflect the growing role of emerging markets, such as China or India, in the world economy. However, Elena Flores, Director for International economic and financial relations and global governance at the European Commission, pointed out that some EU and euro zone countries are sceptical of such reforms. The Member States also often fail to act together, weakening Europe’s hand in international negotiations. ‘The EU could really play a much stronger role than the one it plays today if it were more unified,’ Flores said. The Commission has long advocated a single representation for the euro area on the IMF board, but without success to date. Flores remarked that the euro area’s global role could also be boosted if internal reform led to the completion of economic and monetary union. Flores added that, when the EU and euro zone countries act together, they are more successful in promoting their ideas, such as economic policy coordination, economic peer review or combatting macroeconomic imbalances at the international fora.

Difficulties in global decision-making may grow after the inauguration of Donald Trump, an advocate of economic protectionism, as US President in January, remarked Bernard Hoekman, Robert Schuman Chair at the European University Institute in Florence. Hoekman noted that ‘we are heading towards an administration in the US, which is much less inclined to pursue (…) multilateral cooperation’. Hoekman added that populism and protectionism are also fuelled by the pressure that technological change and innovation is putting on many traditional jobs.

EPRS Economic Governance

Joachim Koops, Dean of Vesalius College Brussels and Director of the Global Governance Institute

Speaking on the EU’s track record in economic decision-making, Joachim Koops, Dean of Vesalius College Brussels and Director of the Global Governance Institute, said the Union, along with the IMF, should critically examine its role in imposing reforms on crisis-stricken Greece. ‘For the first time, the global and regional organisations worked together in an unprecedented way … They had divergent views on how to handle the economic crisis and rebuild the Greek economy,’ he said. ‘That has had an impact on populist movements and knock-on effects on elites in other countries. Many discussions in the previously pro-EU elites in Britain referred to Greece as one element in their shift in opinion in favour of Brexit’, he added.


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Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/01/18/with-a-unified-approach-the-eu-could-boost-its-global-role-eprs-conference/

Plastic bags: EU’s response to reducing consumption

Citizens want to know what the EU is doing to reduce the consumption of plastic bags given the negative impact on marine wildlife and the environment.

In the EU, plastic carrier bags are considered as packaging under Directive 94/62/EC. The use of plastic carrier bags result in littering and an inefficient use of resources. Moreover, the unmanaged disposal of these bags leads to environmental pollution and aggravates the widespread problem of litter in water bodies, threatening aquatic eco-systems worldwide.

Legal framework

Plastic pollution problem: carrier bag discarded in sea threatens turtles

Richard Carey / Fotolia

The Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packing waste, and the successive amendments, aim to harmonise national measures concerning the management of packaging and packaging waste in order, on the one hand, to prevent any impact thereof on the environment of all Member States as well as of third countries or to reduce such impact, thus providing a high level of environmental protection, and, on the other hand, to ensure the functioning of the internal market and to avoid obstacles to trade and distortion and restriction of competition within the Community.

Directive (EU) 2015/720 amending Directive 94/62/EC, defines measures to reduce the consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags, including imposing charges or setting national maximum consumption targets.

Objective of EU directive on lightweight plastic bags

Directive 2015/720 entered into force on 26 May 2015 and deadline for transposition in Member States was by 27 November 2016.

The objective of the directive on lightweight plastic bags is to limit negative impacts on the environment, in particular in terms of littering, to encourage waste prevention and a more efficient use of resources, while limiting negative socio-economic impacts. More specifically, the proposal aims at reducing the consumption of plastic carrier bags with a thickness of below 50 microns (0.05 millimetres) in the European Union. There is an exemption for very light bags, intended for the protection of fresh produce.

The measures must include either one or both of the following:

  1. defining a maximum annual consumption level of:

    • 90 lightweight plastic carrier bags per person by the end of 2019 (a 50 % reduction compared to 2010) and
    • 40 lightweight plastic carrier bags per person by the end of 2025 (an 80 % reduction compared to 2010)
  2. ensuring that, by the end of 2018, lightweight plastic carrier bags are not provided free of charge at the point of sale of goods or products.

By 27 May 2017, the Commission should present a report to the European Parliament and to the Council, examining the impact of the use of ‘oxo-degradable’ plastic carrier bags on the environment and present a legislative proposal, if appropriate.

Parliamentary questions

MEPs have put several parliamentary written questions to the Commission on plastic bags. In its answer of 16 June 2015, the Commission stated that the ‘directive requires Member States to implement a predefined maximum national consumption objective and/or to put in place instruments ensuring that lightweight plastic carrier bags are not provided free of charge. The measures adopted by Member States have to be proportionate, non-discriminatory and non-protectionist.’

In its answer of 13 June 2016, the Commission sets out that it ‘is preparing an implementing act laying down the specifications for labelling or marking home-compostable lightweight plastic carrier bags. Furthermore, studies are being carried out on behalf of the Commission on the impact of the use of oxo-degradable plastic carrier bags on the environment and on the life cycle impacts of alternatives to very lightweight plastic carrier bags. Results are expected in the second half of 2016’.

In an answer of 1 July 2016, the Commission also explains that ‘Measures to be taken may involve the use of economic instruments and marketing restrictions. Measures may vary depending on the environmental impact of the lightweight plastic carrier bags when they are recovered or disposed of, their composting properties, durability or specific intended use’.

Further information

More details on packaging and packaging waste is available from the European Commission. The European Parliamentary Research Service keysource product highlights links to the views of stakeholders entitled ‘Plastic Bags, Forever?’.

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

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/01/17/plastic-bags-eus-response-to-reducing-consumption/