Месечни архиви: February 2017

Improving energy performance of buildings [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Alex Wilson (1st edition),

energy efficiency

© frender / Fotolia

On 30 November 2016, the European Commission adopted a ‘Clean energy for all Europeans’ package, consisting of eight legislative proposals and some non‑legislative actions covering the broad fields of energy efficiency, promotion of renewables, design of electricity markets and governance of energy union.

The clean energy package includes a targeted revision of the 2010 Directive on the energy performance of buildings (EPBD). The Commission proposal would leave intact the key objectives and main features of the EPBD, but modernise and streamline some existing requirements, and remove redundant provisions.

The Commission also proposes binding obligations on electromobility requirements in residential and non-residential buildings; a ‘smartness indicator’ that assesses the technological capability of the building; and clearer requirements for how to develop and update national databases on Energy performance certificates.

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Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/02/27/improving-energy-performance-of-buildings-eu-legislation-in-progress/

Posting of Workers Directive [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Monika Kiss (2nd edition),

A woman and a man

© Alexander Raths / Fotolia

Posting of workers plays an important role in the internal market, particularly in the cross-border provision of services. While the number of posted workers continues to increase significantly, problems such as unfair practices and unequal remunerations persist. In addition, the correct balance between the freedom to provide cross-border services and the social rights of workers needs to be adapted to today`s situation.

The targeted revision of the Posting of Workers Directive (96/71/EC) proposed by the Commission would bring changes in three main areas: the remuneration of posted workers (making it equal to that of local workers, even when subcontracting), more coherent rules on temporary agency workers, as well as long-term posting. Despite the ‘yellow card’ procedure triggered by 11 Member States because of subsidiarity concerns, the European Commission stands by its initial proposal. Stakeholders and advisory committees have emphasised sector-specific differences to posting, the danger of ‘cascade subcontracting’ practices, as well as the importance of collective agreements. The EMPL Committee’s draft report seeks to strike a balance between a level playing field in the provision of services and sound social protection of workers.

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Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/02/27/posting-of-workers-directive-eu-legislation-in-progress/

How the EU budget is spent: European Social Fund

Written by Martin Svášek,

Inklusion

© Unbreakable / Fotolia

The European Social Fund (ESF) was established by the Treaty of Rome in 1957 and is the oldest EU structural fund still in place. Originally designed to improve employment opportunities for workers in the internal market, the fund aims at raising living standards. For the current 2014-2020 programming period, Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013 lays down common rules (‘provisions’) for implementing the five European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds), the objective of which is to promote the European Union’s economic, social and territorial cohesion. Regulation (EU) No 1304/2013 provides the detailed framework of the European Social Fund, and also includes rules for the Youth Employment Initiative.

The ESF addresses four thematic objectives:

  1. promoting sustainable and quality employment and supporting labour mobility;
  2. promoting social inclusion, combating poverty and discrimination;
  3. investing in education, training and vocational training for skills and lifelong learning; and
  4. enhancing the institutional capacity of public authorities and stakeholders, and efficient public administration.

These four objectives are further translated into 19 investment priorities. The total ESF allocation for 2014-2020 is €86 405.02 million, which represents 7.95 % of the current Multiannual Financial Framework and 19 % of the ESI Funds. The five biggest beneficiaries of ESF funding are: Poland (€13.2 billion), Italy (€10.5 billion), Spain (€7.6 billion), Portugal (€7.5 billion) and Germany (€7.5 billion). Member States couple these amounts from the EU budget with national resources. The standard co-financing rates for the EU’s contribution vary between 50 % and 85 % (95 % in exceptional cases). Portugal is the country with the highest ESF allocation per capita, at more than €700.

According to the European Commission’s ex-post evaluation, the 2007-2013 ESF registered approximately 98.7 million participants. By the end of 2014, at least 9.4 million European residents had found a job, and 8.7 million had gained a qualification or certificate with support from the ESF. There were significant differences in the 2007-2013 ESF project implementation rate: at only 44.1 % in Romania, in Austria, Latvia and Portugal, it was above 90%. The Commission’s report on the implementation of the ESI Funds in 2014-2015 highlights the noticeable progress towards objectives in the areas of employment, education and vocational training, and social inclusion.

Read the complete briefing on ‘How the EU budget is spent: European Social Fund‘.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/02/27/how-the-eu-budget-is-spent-european-social-fund/

Citizens first: European Parliament Plenary Session March I

Written by Clare Ferguson,

European Parliament building Brussels

European Union, EP

The first European Parliament plenary session of March is something of a bottom-up affair, with the inclusion of several items on the agenda directly relating to the lives of both citizens and refugees arriving in the EU.

Many unaccompanied minors arriving in the EU disappear, or abscond, partly because reception conditions are grim, because of difficulties in finding their family, or through fear of detention or deportation. The Parliament has called on the Commission to address the disappearance of at least 10 000 registered migrant and refugee children in the EU on several occasions. Amid fears that many are exploited and abused for sexual or labour purposes, Parliament has underlined that the rights of the child apply equally to migrant children, and has asked the Commission to pay particular attention to minors in EU migration and asylum policy. On Wednesday evening, the Commission will make a statement on its actions, among other measures to protect vulnerable migrant children, to ensure that unaccompanied minors do not just ‘disappear’.

Once in the EU, a focus on integrating refugees through intercultural dialogue has become a focus of the Creative Europe programme, and now receives funding thanks to the flexibility of the programme, which has three strands: culture, media, and cross-sector issues, such as cultural project financing. The Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education is seeking a new social inclusion priority in the programme, to help vulnerable individuals and those at risk of radicalisation. While cultural policy is exclusively the remit of Member States, the Creative Europe programme was devised to assist the culture and media sectors to overcome the cross-border challenges posed by digitisation and globalisation. This year, the European Commission will evaluate the programme, and a new own-initiative report from Parliament’s Culture Committee on the implementation to date will be discussed in plenary on Thursday morning.

Another funding source for integration policies, the Europe for Citizens programme, which aims at promoting civil and democratic participation, is also soon due for evaluation. The programme’s aims, to promote direct citizen involvement in and knowledge of EU policy, were ambitious. However, issues regarding the level of funding and the role of the European Parliament in shaping the programme have led to considerable delays. Parliament’s own-initiative report on the programme’s implementation reflects these problems, and will be discussed in plenary on Wednesday, ahead of the Commission’s upcoming mid-term assessment of the programme.

Citizens and businesses need to be able to rely on a secure and affordable supply of energy. Energy security, solidarity and trust is therefore high on the EU agenda. As EU Member States conclude intergovernmental agreements for energy supplies with third countries, proposals are under discussion to strengthen the EU role in securing energy supplies. New rules would introduce an EU element at the negotiation stage of such agreements, and would allow the Commission to observe and verify their compliance with EU energy security objectives. A first reading of a report on intergovernmental agreements in the energy field will be debated in plenary on Wednesday evening.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/02/27/citizens-first-european-parliament-plenary-session-february-ii/

Challenges for the EU [What Think Tanks are thinking]

Written by Marcin Grajewski,

Challenges for the EU

Lefebvre Jonathan / Fotolia

The European Union faces challenges, such as in relation to migration and stagnant economic growth, which test its ability to offer solutions to its citizens. Some politicians and analysts have called for a reform of the EU to shore up popular support for European integration 60 years after the signing of the Treaty of Rome, which led to the creation of what is now the Union.

This note offers links to recent commentaries, studies and reports from major international think tanks on the state of the EU and possible reforms. Earlier papers on the State of the Union can be found in a September edition of ‘What Think Tanks are Thinking’. Other issues in the series offer links to reports on euro area reform and the impact of Brexit on the EU. They  were published in September 2016 and in February 2017 respectively.

Regroup and reform: Ideas for a more responsive and effective European Union
Centre for European Policy Studies, February 2017

The EU’s existential threat: Demands for flexibility in an EU based on rules
Istituto Affari Internazionali, February 2017

A cracking debate on the EU’s future
Carnegie Europe, February 2017

Europe in a new world order
Bruegel, February 2017

The future of a more differentiated E(M)U:  Necessities, options, choices
Istituto Affari Internazionali, February 2017

The lessons of 60 years of ‘Rome’ and 25 years of ‘Maastricht
Clingendael, February 2017

Eurozone proposals will be Rome party pooper
Friends of Europe, February 2017

Une Commission politique grâce à une nouvelle organisation: “Cette fois, c’est différent”. Vraiment ?
Notre Europe Jacques Delors, February 2017

Promouvoir l’Europe sociale: La quête du progrès pendant “l’ère Delors
Notre Europe Jacques Delors, February 2017

The specter of post-Atlanticist Europe
Carnegie Europe, January 2017

Can the EU survive in an age of populism?
Centre for European Policy Studies, January 2017

Has the euro been a failure?
Centre for European Reform, January 2017

Régénérer l’Europe
Confrontations Europe, January 2017

Europe must take control of its own destiny in 2017
Friends of Europe, January 2017

How to balance sovereignty and integration in a voluntary EU
Bruegel, January 2016

L’Europe dans l’angle mort de la démocratie
Confrontations Europe, January 2017

Will the European Union survive until 2025? Three scenarios
German Marshal Fund, January 2017

Pour un code européen des affaires
Fondation Robert Schuman, January 2017

Europe today and what’s next
Liechtenstein Center on Self-Determination, December 2016

What’s wrong with the European Union? And what can be done?
College of Europe, December 2016

The “populist moment”: Towards a “post-liberal” Europe?
Fondation Robert Schuman, December 2016

Europe’s leaders must steel themselves for a tough 2017
Friends of Europe, December 2016

What millennials think about the future of the EU and the euro
Jacques Delors Institute Berlin, Bertelsmann Stiftung, December 2016

The resistible rise of populism in Europe
Martens Centre for European Studies, December 2016

De-constitutionalization and majority rule: A democratic vision for Europe
Max-Planck-Institut für Gesellschaftsforschung, December 2016

Europe in search of Europeans: The road of identity and myth
Notre Europe Jacques Delors Institute, December 2016

Europe in 2016 and beyond
Carnegie Europe, December 2016

Time to go beyond interstate federalism-or something different? The response of new pro-European think tanks to the EU integration crisis
Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung, November 2016

State of Europe 2016 seeks way ahead for Europe in crisis
Friends of Europe, November 2016

For an ambitious Europe
Notre Europe Jacques Delors Institute, November 2016

To give or to grab: The principle of full, crippled and split conferral of powers post-Lisbon
Collge of Europe, November 2016

The EU’s crisis of governance and European foreign policy
Chatham House, November 2016

‘Business as usual’ will just bring more calls to leave
Europe’s World, October 2016

The enemy within: Are modern European democracies afraid of introspection?
European Policy Centre, October 2016

EU@60: Countering a regressive and illiberal Europe
European Policy Centre, October 2016

The future of Europe
Fondation Robert Schumann, September 2016

Europe after Brexit: A proposal for a continental partnership
Bruegel, September 2016

A flexible Europe after the Brexit vote
Carnegie Europe, September 2016

Comment rendre l’Europe à nouveau populaire?
Fondation Robert Schuman, September 2016

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/02/24/challenges-for-the-eu-what-think-tanks-are-thinking/

Circular economy: animated infographic

Waste collectionWritten by Didier Bourguignon, Jana Valant, Christian Dietrich and Mitja Brus.

In a circular economy, products and the materials they contain are highly valued. This contrasts with the traditional, linear economic model, which is based on a ‘take-make-consume-throw away’ pattern. In practice, a circular economy minimises waste through reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products.


Explore our animated infographic on the circular economy


Waste Generation in the EUAbout five tonnes of waste per capita are generated in the European Union (EU) each year, with municipal waste accounting for about 10 % of the total. Currently, over a quarter of municipal waste is landfilled and less than half is recycled or composted, with wide variations between Member States. The amount of municipal waste per capita and per year, a possible indicator for waste prevention, also varies significantly across Member States.

Material Flows in EUMaterials are key to our economy and well-being, yet materials supply poses some challenges. The stocks of materials we use are growing each year, making new inputs necessary even with high reuse and recycling rates. In addition, the supply of raw materials is associated with risks, such as price volatility, availability and import dependency. The EU currently imports, in raw material equivalents, about half the resources it consumes. The good news is, however, that material consumption is no longer closely linked to economic growth; in other words, we are now using our resources more efficiently.

There are a number of ways to make smarter use of our resources. These include: improving the implementation of the ‘waste hierarchy’, a concept in EU legislation which sets priorities among waste prevention and treatment options; increasing the lifetime of products; and sharing our resources using new business models.

Moving towards a more circular economy could deliver benefits, including reduced pressure on the environment; enhanced raw material supply security; and increased competitiveness, innovation, growth and jobs. However, the move also poses challenges, such as finance, key economic enablers, skills, consumer behaviour, business models and multi-level governance.Circular Economy concept

The EU has set itself ambitious goals (‘to live well, within the limits of the planet’ by 2050). In 2015, the European Commission pledged to take many actions to promote transition towards a circular economy, and the European Parliament is now monitoring their implementation.

The circular economy is set to become an important part of EU citizens’ daily lives. Our new animated infographic on the circular economy provides a visual explanation of the main concepts, as well as the facts and figures which underpin the movement.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/02/22/circular-economy-animated-infographic/

How does the EU promote sign languages?

In reference to sign languages, citizens contact the European Parliament requesting information on the status of sign languages at EU level, the actions taken to promote it and how its interpretation works in the EU institutions.

Smiling deaf woman learning sign language and talking with her teacher

Monika Wisniewska / Fotolia

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Convention), ratified by the European Union on 23 December 2010, recognises the freedom of expression and opinion and access to information of persons with disabilities, including by accepting and facilitating the use of sign languages (Article 21).

In the field of education, by virtue of having ratified the convention, the EU should take appropriate measures to facilitate the learning of sign language and the promotion of the linguistic identity of the deaf community (Article 24).

EP resolution on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The European Parliament adopted a resolution on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Parliament, inter alia, stressed that ‘persons with disabilities need to have access to information and communication in accessible formats and technologies appropriate to different kinds of disabilities, including sign languages […]’ and it called, therefore, ‘on the Commission to take the necessary measures to enforce the implementation of EU legislation on access to information and communication’.

EP resolution on sign languages and professional sign language interpreters

The resolution adopted by the European Parliament on 23 November 2016 on sign languages and professional sign language interpreters inter-alia stresses the need for qualified and professional sign language interpreters which should be based on the official recognition of national and regional sign language(s) in Member States and within EU institutions. Furthermore, the Parliament recognises that sign language interpretation constitutes a professional service requiring appropriate remuneration.

The resolution also calls on the Member States to encourage the learning of sign language in the same way as foreign languages and emphasises that sign language should be included in educational curricula in order to raise awareness and increase the use of sign language.

EU institutions’ communication to citizens

The European Parliament, in its resolution of 14 April 2016 on Parliament’s estimates of revenue and expenditure for the financial year 2017, stated that it ‘backs the introduction of international sign language interpretation for all plenary debates so that they at least are genuinely accessible to all European citizens’.

The European Commission, in its reply of 23 March 2016 to a parliamentary question on sign language, stated that ‘there is a trend at EU level to make sign languages more visible at events. Through its Lifelong Learning Programme (2007-13), the Commission financed several projects aimed at making communication easier for the deaf and hard of hearing. The Commission also financed a pilot project of the European Union of the Deaf on potential technological solutions to improve independent communication and interaction between the deaf or hard of hearing and EU institutions [INSIGN Project]. The Commission is also working to make its buildings and websites more accessible. Its interpreting service provides sign language interpretation on request for the Commission. Concerning television coverage via Europe by Satellite [EbS], many events are broadcasted live which makes it difficult to include sign language. However for the corporate video productions, the Commission is aiming at a more systematic use of subtitling to enable the deaf and hard of hearing viewers to follow Commission videos.’

To enable deaf and hard of hearing persons participating in Commission’s meetings to gain access to information, sign-language interpreting is likewise practised at this institution.

Request for sign languages as EU official language

The European Union has 24 official languages. In order for a language to acquire the status of official language in accordance with the rules governing the use of languages at the EU institutions, a Member State must request that status for it, and its request must be approved by the Council, acting unanimously by means of regulations (Article 342 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union).

The European Commission underlined, in its answer of 22 February 2016 to a parliamentary question, that ‘although the language policy of Member States is their exclusive competence, the European Commission encourages recognition of sign languages and supports their dissemination through its programmes for education and training.’

Further information

The study ‘The protection role of the Committee on Petitions in the context of the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’ published in October 2016 by the EP Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs Policy Department, and the in-depth analysis ‘The obligations of the EU public administration under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’ published in March 2016 by the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS), might be of interest.

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/2017/02/22/how-does-the-eu-promote-sign-languages/

Circular economy package: Four legislative proposals on waste [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Didier Bourguignon (4th edition),

Circles

© avarooa / Fotolia

Although waste management in the EU has improved considerably in recent decades, over a quarter of municipal waste is still landfilled and less than half is recycled or composted, with wide variations between Member States. Improving waste management could deliver positive effects for the environment, climate, human health and the economy. As part of a shift towards a circular economy, the European Commission made four legislative proposals introducing new waste-management targets regarding reuse, recycling and landfilling, strengthening provisions on waste prevention and extended producer responsibility, and streamlining definitions, reporting obligations and calculation methods for target.

 


See also our at a glance note on: ‘Circular economy 1.0 and 2.0: A comparison‘.


See our animated infographic on Circular Economy.


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Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/02/22/circular-economy-package-four-legislative-proposals-on-waste-eu-legislation-in-progress/

Better Law-Making in Practice, 2-3 February 2017

Written by Eva Casalprim and Laura Tilindyte,

MARTINEZ IGLESIAS, Maria JoseThe implementation and the broader implications of the Interinstitutional Agreement on Better Law-Making (which entered into force on 13 April 2016), were a common thread of the joint seminar devoted to better law-making in practice on 2-3 February 2017, jointly organised by the European Parliament’s Legal Service and EPRS. Two eminent experts in the field Professor Sasha Garben of the College of Europe in Bruges and Professor Mark Dawson of the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin – shared their knowledge on the legal aspects of the difficult task of improving complex EU legislation to ensure EU law meets the needs of citizens and businesses.

In her introductory speech, Professor Garben (College of Europe) shared some inspiring thoughts regarding the quality of EU legislation, and discussed the structural factors of an EU of 28 Member States that render the task of adopting simple, clear and accessible rules rather difficult in practice. Professor Garben also emphasised the different, and sometimes conflicting, narratives of the EU better regulation agenda and stressed the need for further clarification and improvement.

The first joint declaration on EU’s legislative priorities, which was signed on 13 December 2016, was the focus of a panel discussion on legislative initiative and programming, Points raised at the seminar included emphasising that ‘priority treatment’ of certain initiatives, as envisaged in the agreement, should not be confused with ‘backroom deals’.

McDOWELL, I; TROUPIOTIS, A; KNUDSEN, L;Wolfgang Hiller of EPRS emphasised the reaffirmed role of impact assessment in contributing to high quality legislation, but also pointed to the remaining differences between the institutions regarding the intensity of their impact assessment work, which requires continued inter-institutional exchange and cooperation. The legal dimension of impact assessment was also highlighted with a stress, inter alia, on the increased tendency of the Court of Justice to address the (presence or absence of) impact assessments in its judgments.

Recent better law-making efforts signal a shift of attention to the question how EU laws are being implemented and applied ‘on the ground’. Following the logic of the legislative cycle, the fourth panel on implementation of Union law focused on the need for effective monitoring of Member States’ transposition measures, including the ‘gold-plating’ phenomenon. Jose Luis Rufas Quintana of EPRS emphasised the importance of evaluation, and noted the shift towards the logic of ‘evaluate first’ before taking new measures. EPRS is contributing with evaluation/ex-post impact assessment work, however challenges remain, including the need for interinstitutional coordination and data-sharing.

Better law makingThe second day of the seminar was devoted to delegated and implementing acts (DIAs) and soft law. The discussion on DIAs recalled the origin of the delegated (DAs) and implementing acts (IAs) in the European Convention and reflected on their development in the period preceding the new Interinstitutional Agreement on Better Law-Making. One of the main elements highlighted was the consultation of national experts in the preparation of delegated acts, including systematic access for European Parliament experts to all related meetings and documents. The discussion helped to distil the main challenges faced in the European Parliament’s work and emphasised the importance of confidence-building between the institutions.

The topic of soft law was introduced by Professor Dawson, who underlined that soft law has not been taken into account in the Inter-institutional Agreement, and is viewed with a certain degree of ambiguity and suspicion by European legislators. During the discussion, it was pointed out that, while better law-making signifies clarity, simplicity and coherence, soft law can involve ambiguity and no ‘clear effects’. Despite this initial perception, soft law can nevertheless become a useful instrument for clarifying, interpreting and updating rules in certain circumstances (guidelines, memoranda of understanding). The main issue was that soft law requires clarity.

Joe Dunne of EPRS concluded the seminar by reflecting that it is easier to quantify the costs of better law-making than to assess the benefits, however positive. The seminar served to underline that the achievement of a new Interinstitutional Agreement was a success in its own right.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/02/21/better-law-making-in-practice-2-3-february-2017/

How the EU budget is spent: Justice Programme (2014-2020)

Written by Rafał Mańko,

European Union long shadow flag with a weight scale

© jpgon / Fotolia

EU law is applied on a daily basis by national judges in the Member States, who rely on assistance from the EU Court of Justice only in the most complicated cases. Judges otherwise interpret and apply EU law on their own. In the European area of freedom, security and justice, national courts are expected to cooperate ever more closely, as part of judicial cooperation in civil matters (including e.g. family law or company law) and judicial cooperation in criminal matters (e.g. European arrest warrant or cooperation in gathering evidence in cross-border criminal cases).

The justice programme seeks to contribute to the further development of a European area of justice. This area is based on two fundamental pillars: firstly, the mutual recognition of judicial decisions from various Member States, and secondly, the promotion of mutual trust between national judiciaries across the Union. The programme provides financial support for a wide array of actions, including analytical activities (research, collection of data, surveys etc.), training activities (including staff exchanges, workshops and seminars), mutual learning, support for national judiciaries, and European-level networks.

The justice programme is endowed with a budget of €377.6 million for the 2014-2020 period, with around 34 % of this to be spent on judicial training, 32 % on access to justice, 29 % on judicial cooperation and 5 % on the drugs prevention policy. Items financed by the justice programme include the EU’s membership in the Hague Conference on Private International Law, EU cooperation with the Council of Europe with regard to human rights protection, implementation of the e-Justice platform, as well as collaboration between judiciaries within the framework of the European Judicial Training Network, on top of numerous projects aimed at enhancing the quality of the judiciaries of EU Member States in the field of civil and criminal procedure.

Read the complete briefing on ‘How the EU budget is spent: Justice Programme (2014-2020)‘.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/02/20/how-the-eu-budget-is-spent-justice-programme-2014-2020/