Месечни архиви: март 2017

Visa liberalisation for Ukraine [Plenary Podcast]

Written by Anita Orav,

Ukraine flag travel suitcase

© Julydfg / Fotolia

Building on its Visa Liberalisation Dialogues, the European Commission is proposing to waive visa requirements for 45 million Ukrainian citizens. In parallel, the European Union (EU) has revised its visa suspension mechanism, reinforcing safeguards to apply to all visa liberalisation agreements.


Council Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 lists the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of a visa when crossing the external borders of the Member States (Annex I) and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement (Annex II). It is applied by all Member States – except Ireland and the United Kingdom – and also by Schengen-associated states Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. The regulation forms part of the EU’s common visa policy, which regulates short-stay visas issued for up to 90 days in any 180-day period, while visas for longer stays are regulated under national procedures. In an effort to facilitate matters for bona fide travellers and to remove some of their administrative and cost burdens, the Commission has entered into Visa Liberalisation Dialogues with several neighbouring countries. The approach also seeks to consolidate relations with countries that are on a ‘European course’. This is especially true for Ukraine, where the EU faces increasing competition from Russia over Kiev’s strategic orientation.

Commission proposal

On 20 April 2016, the Commission adopted a proposal to amend Regulation (EC) No 539/2001, transferring Ukraine from Annex I to Annex II. The visa waiver would be limited to holders of biometric passports meeting International Civil Aviation Organization standards. The Commission proposal builds on the EU-Ukraine Visa Liberalisation Dialogue launched in 2008, and the Commission’s action plan on visa liberalisation presented to the Ukrainian government in November 2010, setting benchmarks for Ukraine in four areas: (1) document security, including biometrics; (2) border management, migration and asylum; (3) public order and security; and (4) external relations and fundamental rights. The Commission monitored Ukraine’s progress with yearly reports, reaching an assessment in December 2015 that Ukraine had met all the benchmarks despite the exceptional circumstances it faced. The proposals for lifting the visa requirements are accompanied by an added safeguard. In 2013, a visa suspension mechanism was introduced, allowing a Member State to request that the Commission temporarily suspend the visa waiver for the nationals of a third country in specific circumstances. In early 2017, Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 was again amended, in part to meet conditions set by the Council for further visa liberalisation, to allow for a faster response to sudden increases in irregular migration or manifestly unfounded asylum applications, lack of cooperation on readmission and return, or risks to the internal security of an EU Member State arising from a visa-exempt country.

European Parliament position

The Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs adopted its report (rapporteur: Mariya Gabriel, EPP, Bulgaria) on 29 September 2016. The rapporteur noted that the EU visa refusal rate for Ukrainian citizens was very low, at below 2 %, and that the EU-Ukraine readmission agreement, in force since 2008, demonstrated excellent cooperation and efficiency, with the return rate exceeding 80 %. She emphasised that the visa waiver would uphold the principle whereby every country meeting the benchmarks could benefit from visa liberalisation. Compliance with this approach demonstrated the EU’s reliability as a partner for third countries and its respect for the rule of law. Following agreement reached in trilogue with the Council on 28 February, the European Parliament is due to vote on the proposal in the April I plenary session.

First reading: 2016/0125(COD); Committee responsible: Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE); Rapporteur: Mariya Gabriel (EPP, Bulgaria).

Read this Plenary At a Glance note on ‘Visa liberalisation for Ukraine‘ in PDF.

Listen to podcast ‘Visa liberalisation for Ukraine

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/03/30/visa-liberalisation-for-ukraine-plenary-podcast/

Medical devices and in vitro diagnostic medical devices [Plenary Podcast]

Written by Nicole Scholz,

set medical isolated icons

© Gstudio Group / Fotolia

The current EU approval system for medical devices (MDs) and in vitro diagnostic medical devices (IVDs) is based on conformity assessment by ‘notified bodies’. A number of scandals stressed the need to tighten the regulatory framework for such devices. The European Commission’s proposals for regulations on MDs and IVDs, being discussed in parallel, are extensive and will repeal all existing rules. Votes in Parliament at second reading are expected during the April I plenary.


MDs and IVDs cover a wide array of products, from sticking plasters, to heart valves, to state-of-the-art analytical laboratory equipment, with over 500 000 devices on the EU market. The EU legal framework for such devices was harmonised in the 1990s. The European Commission presented a pair of proposals for regulations in September 2012. Both proposals have common horizontal aspects, but their specific features require separate legal acts. The legislation is complex, wide-ranging and highly technical.

European Commission proposals

The proposals mainly focus on the scrutiny of devices before they are placed on the market, and their surveillance after becoming available, as well as on their traceability along the supply chain. Elements include, among other things, stricter criteria for designating and monitoring notified bodies, adaptation of the classification rules and streamlining of the different assessment procedures.

European Parliament position

Parliament adopted its first-reading position on 2 April 2014. The legislative resolutions on the MD and IVD proposals amended the Commission proposal heavily. The Council agreed its positions in October 2015. The subsequent interinstitutional negotiations concluded after eight months. The compromise mainly centred on stricter requirements for notified bodies, stronger pre-market scrutiny and post-market surveillance, including manufacturers’ liability insurance; strengthened rules for high-risk devices and certain other categories of devices, including special requirements in the case of devices that contain substances having endocrine-disrupting properties or substances that are carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic for reproduction; and increased transparency and traceability, including (for MDs) the provision of essential product information (‘implant card’) to patients, and (for IVDs) genetic counselling about the consequences of DNA tests.

The agreed texts were endorsed by the Council’s Permanent Representatives Committee and by Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) on 15 June 2016. After legal-linguistic revision, both draft texts were adopted by the Council at first reading on 7 March 2017. The Commission published its communications concerning the position of the Council on the adoption of the regulations on MDs and IVDs on 9 March. The ENVI Committee approved its recommendations for second reading on MDs and IVDs at its meeting of 21 March. Parliament’s second-reading vote to formally endorse the position of the Council is due to take place during the April I plenary session. This would complete the adoption procedure, with the MD regulation becoming applicable three years after publication, and that on in vitro diagnostic medical devices five years after publication.

Second reading: 2012/0266(COD) (MDs) and 2012/0267(COD) (IVDs); Committee responsible: ENVI; Rapporteurs: Glenis Willmott (S&D, United Kingdom) and Peter Liese (EPP, Germany).

See the EPRS ‘EU Legislation in Progress briefing’, Medical devices and in vitro diagnostic medical devices

Read this Plenary At a Glance note on ‘Medical devices and in vitro diagnostic medical devices‘ in PDF.

Listen to podcast ‘Medical devices and in vitro diagnostic medical devices


Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/03/30/medical-devices-and-in-vitro-diagnostic-medical-devices-plenary-podcast/

EU support for social entrepreneurs [Policy Podcast]

Written by Agnieszka Widuto,


© Julien Eichinger/ Fotolia

Social enterprises combine social goals with entrepreneurial activity. They represent a business model focused on having a positive social or environmental impact rather than simply making profit for shareholders. Social enterprises make a valuable contribution to the economy and society, operating mainly in local communities and covering areas such as education, healthcare, social services, work integration and environmental protection. They are also an increasingly popular choice for outsourcing certain public services of general economic interest.

Social enterprises encounter challenges in their operations, mostly related to regulatory obstacles and difficulties in accessing funding. At EU level the momentum gained by the Social Business Initiative of 2011 is currently being supplemented by regulatory changes such as the review of the regulation on the European Social Entrepreneurship Funds, improving access to public procurement and developing methodologies for measuring social impact. The EU is also making efforts to improve funding opportunities, for instance via the Social Impact Accelerator and the ‘microfinance and social entrepreneurship’ axis of the Employment and Social Innovation programme. Additional funding is made available under the European Structural and Investment Funds, as well as programmes tailored to small and medium-sized enterprises. Expansion of the social economy, however, requires further development of a supportive regulatory environment, a tailored financial ecosystem, and also increased visibility and recognition.

Read this complete briefing on ‘EU support for social entrepreneurs‘ in PDF.

Listen to podcast ‘EU support for social entrepreneurs


Revenue streams for social enterprises in Europe

Revenue streams for social enterprises in Europe

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/03/30/eu-support-for-social-entrepreneurs/

What is the EU doing to fight against poverty and social exclusion?

Plate with various euro coins, fork and knife lying on 10 euro banknote.

Anton Chalakov / Fotolia

European citizens regularly contact the European Parliament on the subject of poverty and social exclusion in Europe, calling for more to be done to help poor people to escape their predicament. So what is the EU doing about it?

Measures against poverty and social exclusion are among the specific objectives of the Union and its Member States in the field of social policy, as stipulated by Article 19 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and Title X of the same treaty, concerning social policy.

These measures are based on the Europe 2020 Strategy and accompanied by a series of reforms and initiatives, such as the European Platform against poverty and social exclusion and the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived.

Europe 2020 strategy

This strategy, ‘Europe 2020 – A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’, which was launched by the European Commission in 2010, is intended to enable the European Union to achieve smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

In particular, it established the goal of reducing by 25% the number of people in Europe living below the national poverty line and to take more than 20 million people out of poverty.

European Platform against poverty and social exclusion

This European Commission initiative was launched in 2010 to attain the poverty reduction goal presented in the Europe 2020 Strategy. The purpose is to bring together the various stakeholders in society to create a partnership between national governments, European institutions, local and regional authorities, nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) and individuals themselves who are affected by poverty.

Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived

This fund, established by Regulation (EU) No 223/2014, enables the European Union to support policies and measures pursued by the Member States to reduce poverty. It replaces the EU food aid programme. This material assistance takes the form of non-financial assistance and permits the distribution of food and materials and financing of inclusion policies. The budget for 2014-2020 was initially set at EUR 3.5 billion.

Role of the European Parliament

Numerous European Parliament resolutions bear witness to Parliament’s strong and determined commitment to combating poverty and social exclusion in Europe.

The European Parliament has decided to increase by EUR 2 million the payment appropriations for the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived, as mentioned in its resolution of 26 October 2016 on the general budget of the European Union.

In its resolution of 14 April 2016 entitled ‘Meeting the antipoverty target in the light of increasing household costs’, the European Parliament ‘calls on the Commission and the Member States to invest fully in the fight against poverty and social exclusion and to adopt an integrated strategy to combat its various forms by means of a holistic approach linking economic, education, employment, energy transport and social policies on the basis of best practices’.

In addition, Parliament ‘calls on the Commission to study the possibility of extending the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived beyond the programming period 2014-2020, together with better coordination with other European funds, in particular the European Social Fund (ESF), and active employment policies, to facilitate the entry of the most deprived into the employment market and to evaluate the extent to which the most deprived and vulnerable groups, such as younger women, single-parent families, the disabled and elderly women have benefited from the programme’.

Further reading

The European Parliament’s research service has published an analysis of ‘Poverty in the European Union – the crisis and its aftermath’, which in particular presents recent developments in European policies on reducing poverty.

The EU fact sheet on combating poverty, social exclusion and discrimination and European Parliament news: social policy may likewise be of interest.

The European Commission’s portal Social protection and social inclusion also presents the support that it provides for the policies conducted by the Member States in the fields of social inclusion and protection.

The website which affords access to the law of the European Union (EUR-Lex) also contains summaries of the European Union law on the subject:

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/2017/03/29/what-is-the-eu-doing-to-fight-against-poverty-and-social-exclusion/

UK withdrawal from the European Union: Legal and procedural issues

Written by Jesús Carmona, Carmen-Cristina Cîrlig and Gianluca Sgueo,

UK withdrawal from the European Union: Legal and procedural issues

© Sashkin / Shutterstock.com

On 29 March 2017, the United Kingdom (UK) is expected to give formal notification of its intention to leave the European Union (EU), following the recent adoption of an Act of Parliament authorising the British government to take this important step. The notification follows nine months after a referendum on continued EU membership, held on 23 June 2016, delivered – by 51.89 % to 48.11 % – a narrow majority in favour of the country leaving the Union.

The Treaty of Lisbon amended the Treaty on European Union (TEU), adding an explicit clause enabling the voluntary withdrawal of a Member State from the EU. Article 50 TEU provides for the conditions and procedure to be followed in the event of a Member State deciding to leave the Union, and it is now considered the only legal path for such a withdrawal. Notwithstanding the formal framework set out in this ‘exit’ provision, many aspects of the UK’s impending withdrawal from the EU remain shrouded in uncertainty.

In the nine months since the referendum, the UK government – headed since last July by Theresa May, following the immediate resignation of her predecessor, David Cameron – has revealed its own intentions relatively slowly. However, with a speech by Mrs May in January and the publication of a 75-page white paper on the withdrawal process and future relations between the UK and EU, it has become clear that the UK government has opted for a more decisive break with the EU than many initially foresaw, with an intense and potentially complicated period of negotiations now about to begin.

Whilst the EU and UK will aim to conclude a formal withdrawal agreement during the two-year negotiating period about to open up, each party will be reflecting upon the parameters of their future relationship, where they have an interest in continued cooperation in several policy areas. For the moment, it appears that the two sides have different views on the sequencing and scope of the negotiations, and notably the cross-over between the withdrawal agreement and the structure of future relations, and this divergence itself may be one of the first major challenges to overcome.

The EU already has agreements in place for economic and political cooperation with neighbouring countries and third states or groups of states further afield, elements of which might serve as models for future EU-UK cooperation, although it seems increasingly likely that the precise arrangements decided upon in the course of the coming negotiations may not fit any existing template.

In informal meetings since the UK referendum, the other 27 EU Heads of State or Government have discussed both the procedure to be followed and the role of the various institutions in the negotiations themselves, and future initiatives for a ‘better Union’ at 27. However, the EU’s clear position has been that the negotiations with the UK can only start once the latter has officially invoked Article 50 TEU, a principle of ‘no negotiation without notification’.

The overall approach of the European Parliament will be shaped by its political group leaders, sitting in the Conference of Presidents, who have already designated Guy Verhofstadt as the Parliament’s coordinator for this purpose. All of the standing committees have been contributing their thinking on the subject, as the Parliament prepares to adopt a plenary resolution seeking to influence the European Council guidelines for the withdrawal negotiation. The Commission’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has acknowledged the need to keep the Parliament informed at every stage of the negotiations, not least because the eventual withdrawal agreement will have to gain its consent to come into force.

Read the complete in-depth analysis on ‘UK withdrawal from the European Union: Legal and procedural issues‘.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/03/28/uk-withdrawal-from-the-european-union-legal-and-procedural-issues/

EU certification of aviation security screening equipment [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Ariane Debyser (1st edition),

Airport security equipment

© gui yong nian / Fotolia

On 7 September 2016, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a regulation establishing a certification system for aviation security screening equipment. The proposal seeks ‘to contribute to the proper functioning of the EU internal market and to increase the global competitiveness of the EU industry by establishing an EU certification system for aviation security equipment’. This system would be based on EU type-approval and issuance of a certificate of conformity by manufacturers, which would be valid in all Member States, according to the principle of mutual recognition.

The proposal falls under different policy frameworks: the 2012 Commission communication entitled ‘Security Industrial Policy Action Plan for an innovative and competitive Security Industry’, the European agenda on security adopted by the Commission in April 2015, and the communication ‘Delivering the European Agenda on Security to fight against terrorism and pave the way towards an effective and genuine Security Union’, adopted in April 2016.


Stage: EESC

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/03/27/eu-certification-of-aviation-security-screening-equipment-eu-legislation-in-progress/

Turkey and the EU [What Think Tanks are thinking]

Written by Marcin Grajewski,

Relationship between Europe and Turkey

© viperagp / Fotolia

Relations between Turkey and the European Union have been strained for some time, and most recently, Ankara became embroiled in a diplomatic spat with Germany and the Netherlands, following decisions in both countries to prevent Turkish ministers from addressing rallies of expatriate Turks. On 16 April, the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, will hold a referendum to expand presidential powers.

Mr Erdogan has said that Turkey, an EU candidate country, may review its relations with the Union after the coming vote. Government officials have also threatened to ditch last year’s agreement between the EU and Turkey that has helped to stem the flow of migrants into Europe. In November, 2016, the European Parliament passed a resolution, calling for Turkey’s EU entry talks to be suspended until Ankara ended its ‘disproportionate’ and repressive response to a failed coup in July that year.

This note offers links to a series of recent studies and comments from major international think tanks and research institutes on Turkey and its relations with the EU. More reports on the EU enlargement process can be found in a previous edition of ‘What think tanks are thinking’.

Turkey and the EU

Turkey, the European Union and the refugee crisis: A story of multiple failures
Friends of Europe, March 2017

How the EU should respond to Erdoğan’s constitutional coup d’état
Centre for European Policy Studies, March 2017

New directions for European assistance in Turkey
Carnegie Europe, March 2017

The migration paradox and EU-Turkey relations
Instituto Affari Internazionali, December 2016

Dear Europe: Don’t drop Turkey
European Council on Foreign Relations, December 2016

The EU-Turkey March 2016 agreement as a model: New refugee regimes and practices in the Arab Mediterranean and the case of Libya
Instituto Affari Internazionali, December 2016

Taking Turkey seriously
European Council on Foreign Relations, December 2016

Turkey needs a soft exit from the EU
Carnegie Europe, November 2016

The EU-Turkey deal and its implications for the asylum capacities of EU border countries
Istituto Affari Internazionali, November 2016

Trouble on the tracks: Averting the Turkey-EU ‘train wreck
European Council on Foreign Relations, November 2016

Die Syrienkrise: Die Auswirkungen auf die Beziehungen der EU und der NATO zur Türkei
Österreichisches Institut für Internationale Politik, October 2016

After the EU-Turkey refugee deal: A perspective from Turkey
Clingendael, October 2016

The impact of the EU-Turkey statement on protection and reception: The case of Greece
Istituto Affari Internazionali, Stiftung Mercator, Istanbul Policy, October 2016

Success or failure? Assessment of the Readmission Agreement between the EU and Turkey from the legal and political perspectives
Institute of International Relations Prague, October 2016

A breakthrough year in relations between Turkey and the European Union: An attempt to take stock
Centre for Eastern Studies, October 2016

Turkey and the European Union: Scenarios for 2023
Istituto Affari Internazionali, September 2016

The EU-Turkey stalemate: Detecting the root causes of the dysfunctional relationship
Finnish Institute of International Affairs, September 2016

Turkey’s internal situation

Turkey and the codification of autocracy
Centre for European Policy Studies, March 2017

Turkey’s domestically driven foreign policy
Carnegie Europe, February 2017

Turquie: Du kémalisme au néo-ottomanisme
Institut français des relations internationales, January 2017

A tale of two Turkeys
Brookings Institution, January 2017

Constitutional changes in Turkey: A presidential system or the president’s system?
European Policy Centre, January 2017

Turkey’s gift from god
Carnegie Europe, January 2017

Terror continues in polarized Turkey
German Marshall Fund, January 2017

From purges to a ‘new Turkey’: The final stage of the state’s reconstruction
Centre for Eastern Studies, December 2016

Turkey’s Kurdish conflict: 2015-present
Institute for Security and Development Policy, December 2016

Turkey’s nuclear program: Challenges and opportunities
Atlantic Council, December 2016

The limits of Turkey’s post-coup attempt consensus and emerging new political realignment
German Marshall Fund, November 2016

Purge en Turquie: la stratégie autoritaire d’Erdogan. Observatoire de la Turquie et de son environnement géopolitique
Institut de relations internationales et stratégiques, November 2016

The economic track record of pious populists: Evidence from Turkey
Forum for research on Eastern Europe and Emerging Economies, Free Network, November 2016

Turkey’s refugee crisis: The politics of permanence
International Crisis Group, November 2016

Fighting corruption in the Western Balkans and Turkey: Priorities for reform
Transparency International, November 2016

Youth exclusion and the transformative impact of organized youth in Turkey
Istituto Affari Internazionali, October 2016

Co-benefits of climate action: Assessing Turkey’s climate pledge
NewClimate Institute for Climate Policy and Global Sustainability, October 2016

What is the Turkish military’s strategic identity after July 15?
Isambul Policy Center, September 2016

The good, the bad and the Gülenists
European Council on Foreign Relations, September 2016

The evolving approach to refugee protection in Turkey: Assessing the practical and political needs
Migration Policy Institute, September 2016

A ‘new’ Turkey?
Clingendael, August 2016

Turkey’s failed coup: A night of irony (and fear)
Foundation for European Progressive Studies, July 2016

Turkey’s external relations

Turkey’s unpalatable choices in Syria
German Marshall Fund, March 2017

Reducing risks in Turkey’s neighborhood
German Marshall Fund, March 2017

Noch mehr Distanz zum Westen. Warum sich Ankara nach Moskau orientiert
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, January 2017

Turkey’s role in natural gas: becoming a transit country?
E3G, January 2017

Beyond the myth of partnership: Rethinking US policy toward Turkey
Bipartisan Policy Center, December 2016

The Turkish-Russian rapprochement: How real? How durable?
Rand Corporation, November 2016

U.S.-Turkey relations under Trump may hinge more on Turkey than on Trump
Brookings Institution, November 2016

Syrians in Turkey: The economics of integration
Al Sharq Forum, September 2016

How to deal with post-coup Turkey?
Heinrich Böll Stiftung, September 2016

Why Turkey’s disapproval of the West’s response to the coup has limited merit
Chatham House, August 2016

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/03/24/turkey-and-the-eu-what-think-tanks-are-thinking/

Mapping the future of Syria: State of play and options

Written by Patryk Pawlak,

Two soldiers raise the Syrian flag on top of the mountain

© vladimirfloyd / Fotolia

Despite the humanitarian and security crisis, progress towards a United Nations (UN) negotiated political settlement of the conflict has been slow, mostly on account of disagreement over President Bashar al-Assad’s future. The adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 2254 on 18 December 2015 – setting out a roadmap for a peace process in Syria with a clear transition timeline – offered new hope but failed to produce results. After several failed attempts at a cessation of hostilities, the ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey in December 2016, including a monitoring mechanism for violations, opened the way for a new UN Security Council Resolution 2336 which was adopted unanimously on 31 December 2016. The resolution provided an impulse for re-booting the political process during the talks in Astana at the beginning of 2017.

At the same time, the discussion about the future of Syria revolves around questions linked to the future of the Assad regime, territorial integrity of Syria, political accountability, the creation of safe zones, and the reconstruction work that will follow a potential peace agreement. In March 2017, the European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, presented a joint communication providing elements of an EU strategy for Syria. For its part, the European Parliament has focused on addressing the implications of the refugee crisis, strengthening EU humanitarian assistance in Iraq and Syria and aid to vulnerable communities, and improving the EU response to the terrorist threat posed by ISIL/Da’esh.

This is an updated edition of a briefing published in January 2016. See also our briefings on the impact of the Syrian crisis on Jordan and Lebanon.

Read this complete briefing on ‘Mapping the future of Syria: State of play and options‘ in PDF.

EU Member States' contributions to the Madad Fund

EU Member States’ contributions to the Madad Fund

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/03/24/mapping-the-future-of-syria-state-of-play-and-options/

Summertime: changing of the clocks, but why?

Daylight Saving Summer

Felix Pergande / Fotolia

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 26 March 2017 clocks go forward, 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: ‘ Wintertime: why change the clocks?’ published on 26 October 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.

Main justifications for changing the clocks

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. The reports concludes that ‘apart from the fact that it provides greater opportunities for a wide range of evening leisure activities and produces some energy savings, summer time has little impact and the current arrangements are not a subject at the forefront of people’s minds in the EU Member States.  No Member State has expressed a wish to abandon summer time or change the provisions of the current Directive. On the contrary, it is important to maintain the harmonised timetable to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market, which is the main objective of the Directive.’

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.

Public hearing and parliamentary questions

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 8 February 2017, the Commission makes clear that independently from the specific time zone a Member State has decided to apply on its territory, every Member State has to apply the summertime and move the clocks one hour ahead on the last Sunday of March and move the clocks back to wintertime on the last Sunday of October.

In its answer of 1 September 2015, 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.

In that direction, several Members of the European Parliament have put an oral question on 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 consumptionA debate on the switch between summer and winter time is scheduled for the October II Strasbourg plenary session, the verbatim debate for 27 October 2016 is available here.

The Commission has announced that it is looking into the issue of summer and winter time. This will include an analysis of the impact of the current arrangements in the Member States, based on available evidence.


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.


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/2017/03/24/summertime-changing-of-the-clocks-but-why/

What future for global trade?

Written by Krisztina Binder,

What Future for Global TradeWorldwide, countries are facing major international trade challenges. Trade policy was at the forefront of the 2016 United States presidential campaign, and the new US administration’s approach leans toward global trade restriction. Protectionist pressures, not to mention concerns regarding the potential effects of Brexit, are increasing on the world stage. Against this backdrop, the EPRS External Policies Unit and the Secretariat of Parliament’s Committee on International Trade organised a joint event on ‘What future for global trade?’, on 9 March 2017. The objective of the roundtable discussion, which brought members of European and third country parliaments and trade experts together, was to analyse some of the main issues that might influence future global trade flows and negotiations. The discussion followed the 38th session of the Steering Committee of the WTO Parliamentary Conference, held on the same day. MPs from third countries taking part in the WTO meeting, along with their European counterparts, also participated in the event.

‘We need rules-based trade in a fair and inclusive manner’ Bernd Lange (S&D, Germany)

Although the general consensus was that trade is beneficial for societal welfare and contributes to reducing world poverty, the discussion revealed that the opinion that global trade is unfair and trade benefits are not equally distributed is growing worldwide. Speakers agreed that this criticism of rising inequality in the globalised trading system cannot be ignored, and that reflection is necessary, particularly from, on how to address this problem. Moreover, it was agreed that a commitment to a rules-based trading system is needed.

Bernd Lange (S&D, Germany), Chair of the Committee on International Trade, pointed out in his keynote speech that trade is the engine for growth and employment in the EU. To gain clear support from citizens, the EU needs a trade policy that, in addition to the technical aspects such as trade barriers, also deals with the need for a stable society and allows for a more equal division of the benefits of trade. To reach these objectives, Lange called for transparency, not only with respect to EU trade policy targets and tools, but also as regards World Trade Organization activities. Lange called for a fair, inclusive, and more transparent trade policy, continued support for a rules-based trading system, and a commitment to the multilateral approach.

ASSEGAF, Nurhayati AliNurhayati Ali Assegaf, Member of the Indonesian Parliament, stated that, more importantly than liberalising trade, the global trade system must create equal opportunities and improve citizens’ prosperity. Ali Assegaf noted that the WTO’s Bali Package was a major breakthrough; delivering on the commitments of the Bali Package and getting the WTO back on track should be seen as a priority in formulating international trade governance. On the other hand, the WTO has to also reach out to marginalised and most vulnerable persons. The Indonesian House of Representatives is therefore a proponent of a just and fair multilateral trading system.

The temptation of protectionism

Speakers also reflected on a current major trade concern, the new US administration’s trade policy. Professor of Economics Paola Conconi of the Université Libre de Bruxelles argued that during the approach to elections, US politicians in general tend to become more protectionist, and this trend can also be observed in the number of WTO disputes initiated. President Trump is therefore not unique in his rhetoric; nevertheless, great uncertainty exists as regards his future actions. Similarly, Peter Chase, Senior Fellow at the German Marshall Fund, noted that, as many citizens view trade as unfair, Donald Trump was not alone among presidential candidates moving towards a protectionist stance during the presidential campaign. On the basis of the March 2017 US Trade Representative policy agenda, among other factors, Chase suggested that the new US administration will follow a ‘mercantilist’, rather than protectionist, trade approach, reflecting the influence of policy-makers associated with the manufacturing sector. Pierre Sauvé, Senior Trade Specialist at the World Bank Group, stated that if we look at the slowdown in cross-border trade in recent years, it is evident that different factors, some of a cyclical nature, others more structural in character, such as far-reaching technological change, affecting manufacturing and service industries alike, are in play. Sauvé noted that the influence of trade and investment protection is not on the whole as significant as might be assumed. Protectionism is generally held in check thanks to the WTO’s close monitoring. However, more recently, it seems that policy uncertainties are influencing consumption and investment decisions.

What to expect?

Laura PUCCIO; CONCONI, Paola; Peter, CHASE; Peter Chase suggested maintaining a ’wait-and-see’ stance, as the Trump administrations’ approach to trade may change and become more moderated. Recommending that countries with mercantilist policies review the benefits of such an approach, and Chase argued that focusing on respect of the rules-based system can lead to enforcement of the WTO regime. Pierre Sauvé, while mentioning the growing uncertainties regarding trade rule-making and international cooperation, highlighted that significant advances have been made in multilateral trade governance and in preferential trade and investment rule-making recently, for instance, the conclusion of the EU-Canada trade agreement. Sauvé underlined that more serious commitments at national level and for international cooperation are needed to address the distributional downsides of globalisation. Pierre Sauvé also mentioned that these developments will nevertheless not lead to the end of global value chains. Furthermore, Paola Conconi explained that the outcome of the Brexit negotiations depends to a large extent on the rules of origin on which the EU and the United Kingdom agree, which in turn will affect global value chains, as they will have a significant impact on sourcing decisions.

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Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/03/24/what-future-for-global-trade/