Месечни архиви: May 2017

What are the EU actions on waste management?

Pollution concept. Garbage pile in trash dump or landfill.

Copyright: vchalup / Fotolia

Citizens are contacting the European Parliament to enquire about what the EU is doing to reduce, recycle and reuse waste. Environmental policy is one of the policy areas most supported by European Union’s (EU) citizens, who recognise that environmental problems go beyond national and regional borders and can only be resolved through concerted action at EU and international level.

European environment policy has evolved significantly since the 1970s, when the European Union and its Member States introduced laws to ensure the careful use of natural resources, to minimise adverse environmental impacts of production and consumption, and to protect biodiversity and natural habitats.

The European Parliament has consistently called for policies in line with the hierarchy of waste prevention and management options, and moving towards a more circular economy.

Legal background

Based on Title XX of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, EU environmental policy covers aspects as preserving, protecting and improving the quality of the environment, protecting human health, prudent and rational utilisation of natural resources, promoting measures at international level to deal with regional or worldwide environmental problems, and in particular combating climate change.

The European Union’s waste management policy is built mainly on overarching directives, and legal acts applying to specific waste streams, policy strategies, legal acts on specific installations, and implementing acts defining when specific materials leave the waste regime after treatment.

There are three legal acts setting the general framework for the European Union’s waste management policy:

Council Directive 1999/31/EC on landfill of waste aims to prevent, or reduce as much as possible, any negative impact from landfilling on surface water, groundwater, soil, air or human health by introducing stringent technical requirements.

Regulation (EC) No 1013/2006 on shipments of waste lays down rules for controlling waste shipments in order to improve environmental protection, and incorporates the provisions of the Basel Convention and the revision of the OECD’s 2001 decision on the control of transboundary movements of wastes destined for recovery operations in EU law.

Directive 2008/98/EC on waste establishes a legal framework for treating waste in the EU and is designed to protect the environment and human health by emphasising the importance of proper waste management, recovery and recycling techniques to reduce pressure on resources and improve their use.

Main waste-related strategies

The 2005 thematic strategy on waste (COM/2005/0666 final) sets objectives and outlines the means by which the EU can move towards improved waste management, simplifies and clarifies the current legal framework, in line with the EU’s better regulation objectives, lays down the approach the Commission will take to achieve better regulation in EU waste law, builds on existing legislation and extensive stakeholder consultation, and identifies full and effective implementation by Member States as a condition for making progress towards the goals set.

The 2011 Roadmap to a resource-efficient Europe (COM/2011/0571 final) is the flagship initiative of the Europe 2020 Strategy. The Roadmap provides a framework explaining how policies interrelate and build on each other. It is a first step towards designing a coherent action framework that cuts across different policy areas and sectors. Its objective is to provide a stable perspective for transforming the economy.

In the 7th Environment Action Programme (EAP) ‘Living well, within the limits of our planet’ of 2013 the Union set itself the objective of becoming a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy by 2020, with a set of policies and actions aimed at making it a low-carbon and resource-efficient economy and safeguarding the Union’s citizens from environment-related pressures and risks to health and well-being.

Circular Economy

On 2 December 2015, the European Commission adopted an ambitious Circular Economy Package, which includes revised legislative proposals on waste to stimulate Europe’s transition towards a circular economy, which will boost global competitiveness, foster sustainable economic growth and generate new jobs.

The Circular Economy Package consists of an EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy: from production and consumption to waste management and the market for secondary raw materials. The annex to the action plan sets out the timeline for the completion of the actions.

The revised legislative proposal on waste sets clear targets for reduction of waste and establishes a long-term path for waste management and recycling.

An overview on Circular Economy is available in the Commission Press release of 2 December 2015 and in the Circular Economy Package: questions & answers. Parliament’s Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee (ENVI) voted on Tuesday 24 January 2017, to amend a European Commission proposal on waste management, the so-called waste package. ENVI Committee MEPs advocate the boosting of recycling, the cutting of landfilling and the reduction of food waste. Further information on the committee meeting and the vote is available on EuroparlTV and in the Press release of 24 January 2017 of the European Parliament.

On 9 February 2017, the ENVI Committee adopted a report on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2008/98/EC on waste. On 14 March 2017, the plenary amended the Commission’s proposal and was referred back to the committee responsible for interinstitutional negotiations. The European Parliament press release of 14 March 2017 provides details on Parliament’s position. Further information is available in the Procedure files: 2015/0272(COD), 2015/0274(COD), 2015/0275(COD) and 2015/0276(COD) on resource efficiency. Circular economy package.

European Parliamentary questions

The Members of the European Parliament regularly address questions to the European Commission on specific, local and topical aspects of waste management and the circular economy.

Further information

The briefings of the European Parliamentary Research Service on Understanding waste streams: Treatment of specific waste, on Understanding waste management: Policy challenges and opportunities, and on Circular economy package: Four legislative proposals on waste, the Fact Sheets of the European Parliament on Resource efficiency and waste as well as the EU webpage on Environment and the European Commission webpage on EU Waste Policy provide further reading on waste and waste management. On 22 February 2017, the European Parliamentary Research Service published an animated infographic on the Circular Economy. An overview of the policies, strategies and the legalisation applicable to waste and waste management is available on the European Commission’s webpage on Waste.


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/2017/05/31/what-are-the-eu-actions-on-waste-management/

Lobbying, Parliament & public trust – EU Transparency Register workshop of 10 May 2017

Written by Marie Thiel, Elisabeth Bauer and Irene Vlad (Transparency Unit).

EU Transparency Register - lobbying, Parliament & public trust

Workshop : ‘ EU transparency register – Lobbying, Parliament and Public Trust ‘ –
Panel I – National lobbying regulation

On 10 May 2017 a public workshop entitled ‘EU Transparency Register – lobbying, Parliament & public trust’ to exchange best practices and models for lobby regulation at national and EU level took place at the European Parliament in Brussels. The event was hosted by Parliament’s lead negotiators for upcoming negotiations with the Council and the Commission (on a Commission proposal for an inter-institutional agreement establishing a mandatory Transparency Register), Danuta Hübner (EPP, Poland – Chair of the Constitutional Affairs Committee) and Sylvie Guillaume (S&D, France – Parliament’s Vice-President responsible for the Transparency Register). Speakers included fellow national parliamentarians, practitioners and academics, as well as EU Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly.


Video of event


The aim of the workshop was for Members of the European Parliament, as well as the public, to hear about national experiences with lobbying regulation, and to discuss best practices and the technical aspects of such regulation. Academics attended to discuss public expectations in terms of transparency, and stakeholders were welcome to share their opinions and experiences of the systems already in place.

PANEL 1: National lobbying regulation

EU Transparency Register - lobbying, Parliament & public trust

Danuta Hübner, MEP, Chair of the AFCO Committee

Chair of AFCO, Danuta Hübner welcomed participants to the first panel on national lobbying regulation, starting with former MEP and former member of the Swedish Riksdag, Olle Schmidt. Schmidt explained that Sweden has rejected a lobbying register on several occasions. Swedish laws on freedom of the press and freedom of information have helped to create a strong tradition of transparency in the country, over and above any rules on lobbying. The Swedes find that denying access to any particular interest group to decision-makers would be undemocratic, as it would give certain stakeholders priority over others. Schmidt is in favour of the EU Transparency Register, which he considered well-suited to the Brussels environment, but he stressed that lobby regulation was no ‘silver bullet’ to right all wrongs.

Introducing the Austrian register for lobbyists, Dietmar Dokalik, Head of Unit in the Directorate General for Civil Law of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Justice, explained its genesis (the 2013 Austrian Transparency Act) and aim to promote good governance. Although the system is criticised as weak, Dokalik argued that more public scrutiny and increased transparency have led to better quality law-making and ultimately greater acceptance of the decision-making process by the general public.

EU Transparency Register - lobbying, Parliament & public trust

Olle Schmidt, former member of the Swedish Riksdag

Stewart Stevenson, Member of the Scottish Parliament, wrapped up the first panel with his account of the Scottish system, via video link-up. Approved in 2016, transparency rules in Scotland are designed to be light; it is only necessary to register in Scotland after a lobbying contact with a public officer has taken place. The register, while including the government in its scope, does not apply to MSPs when they are in contact with their constituents.

In the ensuing question and answer session with the audience, it emerged that in all three countries, the media was key to holding politicians to account, irrespective of any lobbying regulation. In Europe, it seems that a growing number of Member States are seeking to put regulation of lobbying activities in place to ensure the transparency of and balance between inputs from the private sector and from civil society to the decision makers. The most recent additions are France and Ireland.

PANEL 2: Effective implementation of lobbying regulation

EU Transparency Register - lobbying, Parliament & public trust

Workshop : ‘ EU transparency register – Lobbying, Parliament and Public Trust ‘ – Effective implementation of lobbying regulation

EU Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly introduced the second panel dedicated to practitioners of lobbying regulation, by reminding of her own recommendations on transparency and practical guidelines for public officials interacting with interest representatives. The Canadian Lobbying Commissioner, Karen Shepherd, Ireland’s first Head of Lobbying Regulation, Sherry  Perreault, and David Ginocchi from the French Haute Autorite de la Transparence de la Vie Publique (HATVP), each gave an overview of how their respective laws regulating lobbying were set up, the obligations for lobbyists, and how they are pursuing implementation.

While a register has yet to be set up in France, following the recent adoption of the Loi Sapin II, David Ginocchi is part of a team of 10 staff ensuring that their future system will be ready as soon as the law enters into force on 1 July 2017. The new French register will have to cater for all the different levels of government covered by the law, including government, parliament, presidency, state, and local administrations (representing more than 20 000 officials), and have it ready for roll out in the autumn.

Prior to the implementation of the new Lobbying Act in Ireland in September 2015, Sherry Perreault travelled the country as part of an outreach campaign, which included a trial period for the returns that registered lobbyists are expected to provide, accounting for their contacts with what is known as designated public officials (DPOs), three times a year. As part of the question and answer session following the presentation, she was also able to confirm that Irish MEPs and the Permanent Representative of Ireland to the EU are indeed covered by the legislation. In keeping with the incremental implementation of the Irish scheme, the sanctions mechanism envisaged in the law only applied from January 2017 and a Code of Conduct for lobbyists has yet to be developed.

While Canada has regulated lobbying since 1965, its most recent incarnation, the Lobbying Act of 2008, requires lobbyists to provide monthly returns on their lobbying activities and bestows upon the Commissioner the power to investigate, subpoena evidence and issue fines, as Karen Shepherd explained. Nevertheless, her 28-strong staff spend much of their time raising awareness and educating on compliance, as well as performing random monitoring of registrations and following press reports.

Questions from the floor covered details of the respective enforcement mechanisms, exemptions and uses of the registers. It emerged that the media seemed to be the most frequent users of information made available on the registers.

PANEL 3: Finding a balance between rights, obligations, and public expectations

EU Transparency Register - lobbying, Parliament & public trust

Workshop : ‘ EU transparency register – Lobbying, Parliament and Public Trust ‘ –
Panel III – Lobbying the European Parliament – finding the right balance between rights, obligations and public expectations

The academics discussed the public’s transparency expectations for lobbying regulation in the third and final panel.

An expert in constitutional law, Professor Martin Nettesheim, from Tübingen University, recalled that transparency could not be an end in itself, but had to be a means to an end (Unionsrechtliches Gesetzgebungsverfahren und Interessenvertretung). In the case of the EU institutions, the decision-making processes should be made open and accessible. Lobbying is a legitimate part of this process and efforts should be made to ensure that a level playing field exists among all stakeholders (including citizens) affected by EU legislation. Regulating lobbying could result in distortion of access. Another principle to keep in mind is the independent mandate of MEPs, who should be able to vote according to their conscience and in the best interest of the public. In consequence, any measures MEPs might adopt to improve transparency, such as providing a legislative footprint annexed to their reports, should remain voluntary. Having said this, Professor Nettesheim also acknowledged that the norms and the times seemed to be changing and along with these, public expectations.

Professor Sabine Saurugger from Sciences Po, Grenoble, examined the issue by casting a wider net as to the definition of lobbying and accountability of politicians (Lobbying or interest representations). While lobbying regulation needs to provide a very precise definition of what lobbying activities were to be measured, political decision-making also depends on other factors than lobbying, such as pressure from the media, the need to realise electoral pledges, or even public protests and demonstrations.

EU Transparency Register - lobbying, Parliament & public trust

EP Vice-President Sylvie Guillaume

The influence angle was picked up by Professor David Marshall, from Reading University, whose research shows that quantitative arguments rarely hold water under close examination. Marshall demonstrated that at the decision-making stage, business interests tend to have less influence than citizen groups – irrespective of available funds – when lobbying the European Parliament. This seemed to be an effect of relative EP gains in decision-making powers overall, and of the fact that citizen groups tend to welcome new legislation, whereas the business sector would be more likely to oppose greater regulation. All interest groups tend to lobby either MEPs with perceived ideological similarities with their cause, or MEPs in a relative position of power as a decision-maker, he argued.

The final discussion with the audience revolved around the principle of fairness. Academia clearly could not answer whether lobbying regulation should seek to address real or perceived unfair advantages in accessing or influencing decision-makers. The participants agreed however that the EU Transparency Register seemed to respect the principle of openness in the EU institutions, the principle of non-discrimination and the independence of MEPs.

In her closing remarks, Vice President Sylvie Guillaume said the three panel discussions had shown how sensitive and sometimes divisive transparency discussions could be, even within the Parliament. Parliament’s priority was to take steps towards an ambitious result for the upcoming negotiations on a new interinstitutional agreement on a joint Transparency Register, seeking to strengthen the rules in place and to include the Council.


Background

The EU Transparency Register, run by the Parliament and the Commission, is a voluntary system of registration for entities seeking to influence the EU decision-making process directly or indirectly. It covers all organisations and self-employed individuals from trade and professional associations to NGOs and think tanks, irrespective of their legal status. Although the system is voluntary, over 11 200 representative groups have signed up since its inception in 2011, revealing their particular interests, whom they represent, and with what means, while also abiding by a Code of Conduct for registrants. In turn, Parliament grants registered interest representatives facilitated access to its premises and requires speakers at its public hearings to be registered. In 2014, the Commission decided to keep a public record of all meetings between Commissioners, their Cabinets and Directors-General and registered interest representatives. The Joint Transparency Register Secretariat (JTRS) consists of officials from both the Parliament and the Commission, who monitor the quality of the public database, assist registrants, handle alerts and complaints and raise awareness regarding the Transparency Register.

Parliament called on the Commission to review the current Interinstitutional Agreement (IIA) before 2017, and the Commission proposed a new agreement on 28 September 2016, this time also covering the Council. Parliament’s lead negotiators are Sylvie Guillaume, Vice-President responsible for the Transparency Register, and Danuta Hübner, Chair of the Constitutional Affairs Committee.


Related links

Video (animated) on the Transparency Register

EPRS Briefing: EU Transparency Register

Regulation of lobbying across the EU

Transparency of lobbying in Member States, Comparative analysis

Regulating Lobbying in Canada

Transparency of Lobbying: the Example of the Irish Lobby Register

Lobbying regulation framework in Poland

Website of the Transparency Register

EP Ethics & Transparency page

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/05/30/lobbying-parliament-public-trust-eu-transparency-register-workshop-of-10-may-2017/

Environmental protection: an opportunity for a better future

Written by Didier Bourguignon.

Green Week, an annual event on European environment policy, takes place from 29 May to 2 June 2017. This year’s edition will focus on ‘Green jobs for a greener future’.

The potential of green jobs

Forest

nakedking / Fotolia

According to a recent Eurobarometer survey for the European Parliament, the ‘fight against unemployment’ and ‘environmental protection’ rank in the top three areas where Europeans would like more action from the European Union (EU), with respectively 78 % and 75 % of Europeans wanting the EU to do more. Green jobs is a key policy combining the two concerns.

Creating green jobs could boost the labour market at the same time as increasing sustainability. Green jobs generally contribute to preserving or restoring environmental quality in a range of sectors (for instance by protecting ecosystems and biodiversity, increasing resource efficiency, decarbonising the economy, and avoiding waste and pollution).

The renewable energy sector, supported by various policies at EU and national level, employs over a million people in the EU. The European Commission’s environmental implementation review indicates that full compliance with existing EU legislation on waste, water and nature protection could create 574 000 new jobs. A circular economy could create between 580 000 and 2 million additional jobs in the EU, according to Commission estimates. In addition, the Commission notes, in relation to biodiversity protection, that one in six jobs depends on nature.

For a better future

EU environmental policy is broad and affects our daily life.

The EU aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 % below 1990 levels by 2030. To make this a reality, a reform of the EU emissions trading system for the period 2020-2030 is currently underway and emission reduction targets in other sectors (in particular transport, buildings and agriculture) are being reviewed.

The EU also intends to move towards a circular economy where products and materials are valued highly and where waste is reduced to a minimum. To achieve this, the European Parliament and the Council are discussing new targets related to waste management (in particular increasing recycling and reducing landfilling) and new rules on fertilisers. The European Parliament has also called for action on food waste.

The EU pursues ambitious goals on biodiversity (halting biodiversity loss of and restoring ecosystems by 2020) and on freshwater bodies (achieving good status for all surface water and groundwater by 2015). However, meeting these targets is a challenge.

Other topics related to environmental protection, like rules on the authorisation of pesticides, have also attracted a lot of attention recently.

Let’s get greener together

On 8 June 2017, European institutions (including the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council and others) will hold an event on the theme ‘Let’s get greener together’ in the context of the EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS). The webstreamed event (morningafternoon) will be an opportunity to showcase recent measures, in particular the greening of EU buildings and action by EU staff to protect urban biodiversity.

GreeWeek2017

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/05/26/environmental-protection-an-opportunity-for-a-better-future/

Blockchain stimulates a lively debate at the European Parliament

Written by Philip Boucher,

blockchain post-event blog postOn 11 May 2017, the STOA workshop ‘Spotlight on blockchain: a new generation of digital services’ provided a unique opportunity for the public to join policy-makers, technology experts and businesses to discover the wide-ranging opportunities and challenges presented by blockchain technology. In the course of the workshop, co-organised with the European Commission’s DG CONNECT, we heard panellists debate whether the technology was the best thing since sliced bread, the end of civilisation as we know it or, perhaps, both.

Opening the event, Eva Kaili, MEP and STOA Chair, reminded participants that it was not only payments that could be decentralised by blockchain technology, but also contracts, personal identification, music and even energy. She further highlighted the potential role of blockchain in re-establishing trust between citizens and political or financial institutions.

How blockchain works, and what it can do

The first keynote speech was given by Vinay Gupta, who explained how the technology worked, and how big an impact it could have on our lives. Following this, two panel discussions delved deeper into specific applications of blockchain. The first panel, introduced and moderated by Jakob von Weizsäcker, MEP and the European Parliament’s rapporteur on virtual currencies, focused on Blockchain for Financial Services. This included discussions on how start-ups, banks and insurance companies are testing and proposing blockchain-based solutions and the associated challenges and opportunities. The second panel, introduced and moderated by Eva Kaili looked beyond financial applications to consider A New Generation of Blockchain-Based Services, with panellists describing their experience and ideas for how blockchains could be used to manage intellectual property rights, energy, voting and supply chains, or even to transform the democratic system.

Speaking to EuroparlTV during the event, Eva Kaili highlighted that blockchain could make a huge difference to our everyday lives because transactions and contracts can be executed without intermediaries.

‘This could actually be a revolution because it creates a whole new way of thinking about trust.’ Eva Kaili, MEP and STOA Chair

Surprising conclusion on need for policy action

There was plenty of time for broad and lively discussions, with panellists and participants engaging in debates ranging from the practical challenges faced by blockchain start-ups in opening bank accounts, to the ideological considerations of how blockchain technologies could herald new forms of democracy in the decades to come.

The room was packed for the event, with the live streaming followed by hundreds, and the hashtag #EUBlockchain trending on Twitter for much of the day. All participants, both in the room and following online, were invited to have their say on various aspects of blockchain development via a Mentimeter poll. Of more than 650 participants, 70 % responded that blockchain required EU-level action either ‘critically’ or ‘very urgently’. This opinion contrasts with frequently repeated calls for minimum regulatory intervention to avoid stifling innovation. Asked to specify which areas of EU regulation are currently inadequate to respond to the challenges presented by blockchain, the participants responded that taxation, banking and currencies were by far the most pressing concerns.

Blockchain to stay in the limelight

There is little doubt that there will be more debates and initiatives on blockchain technology at the European Parliament in the coming months and years. Those that missed this event are invited to catch up via the archived webstream, and to read recent EPRS publications on the topic including How blockchain technology could change our lives’; What if blockchain changes social values’ and ‘Distributed ledger technology and financial markets’.


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Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/05/23/blockchain-stimulates-a-lively-debate-at-the-european-parliament/

EU public private partnerships in research

Written by Vincent Reillon,

European Technology and Innovation Platforms

© EtiAmmos / Fotolia

Around 70 EU public-private partnerships (PPPs) in research help define common priorities and visions for EU, national and regional research and innovation activities. Six different types of PPPs now exist. They were first set up in the context of the development of European Research Area policy in 2003 with two main objectives. Their first goal is to address the fragmentation of research efforts between the private and public sector and across borders. Secondly, they seek to increase public and private investment in research activities to reach the target of 3 % of EU gross domestic product. The first PPPs – the European Technology Platforms and the Joint Technology Initiatives – were developed to achieve these objectives.

The initial focus of the PPPs on research activities was broadened in 2005, with the introduction of a more comprehensive view of innovation. The European Institute of Innovation and Technology and its Knowledge and Innovation Communities were set up to embody this new vision by promoting the integration of research, innovation and education activities. European Industrial Initiatives were created in 2007 in the field of energy, to support the implementation of the EU strategy in that area. The 2008 financial crisis subsequently demanded swift action to support investments in research and led to the establishment of the rapidly implemented contractual PPPs. By 2010, the focus on technology challenges had been replaced by the need to tackle societal challenges. The European Innovation Partnerships provided a new tool to better address these challenges by integrating all the actors of the innovation process.

However, the multiplication of PPPs created a new form of fragmentation with different types of PPPs focusing on similar fields. The 3 % target was missed (currently at 2.03 %). The share of private investment in research has stagnated at around 55 % since 2004, whereas the share of the budget of the EU framework programme for research (FP) dedicated to the PPPs has more than doubled (9.1 % for FP7 versus 21.5 % for Horizon 2020). All these aspects will have to be considered when setting the budget for the PPPs in FP9.

The six types of EU PPPs in research

European Technology Platforms (ETP) were the first type of public-private partnership established in the research field at European level. These industry-led stakeholders’ fora define and implement a strategic research agenda (SRA) aiming at aligning research priorities in a technological area. Without dedicated funding, ETPs remain coordination and advisory structures, helping to define the topics of research programmes at European, national and regional level.

Joint technology initiatives (JTIs) were set up as European institutional public-private partnerships to carry out the strategic research agenda of some established European technology platforms. Five JTIs were established under the 7th framework programme for research. Evaluation of these JTIs led to development of their legal framework to simplify their rules and procedures. Six JTIs are currently operational, receiving a €6.7 billion contribution from Horizon 2020.

Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) are long-term pan-European autonomous networks of higher education institutions, research centres, private companies and other stakeholders, set up to provide innovative solutions to societal challenges: climate, energy, health, information technologies, raw materials, food and manufacturing. They are developed and funded by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) since 2010.

Following the adoption of the European strategic energy plan (SET plan) in 2007, the European Commission proposed establishing European industrial initiatives (EII) as public-private partnerships to implement research agendas for the development and deployment of low carbon energy technologies. In 2015, the energy policy review under the energy union led to the EIIs merging with existing European technology platforms (ETP) to create nine European technology and innovation platforms (ETIP). They operate similarly to other ETPs, but are bound to SET plan implementation.

The first three contractual public-private partnerships in research were established as a tool to address the 2008 financial crisis. Their main feature is prior consultation of industry in defining the topics of the calls in the framework programme for research. This allows better alignment of the topics with industry needs, especially regarding demonstration projects, increasing the participation of private actors in the programme. The scheme, easier to establish than institutional public-private partnerships such as the joint technology initiatives, was extended under Horizon 2020 with a budget of €7.15 billion ring-fenced for 10 of these partnerships (almost 10 % of the programme’s budget).

The European innovation partnerships (EIP) were launched in the context of the innovation union flagship initiative in October 2010. They were set up with the aim to promote the implementation of a new innovation ecosystem in Europe. The EIPs were meant to act across policies, sectors and borders to tackle societal challenges and enhance Europe’s competitiveness. A 2014 evaluation concluded that this objective would not be reached given the framework used for their implementation. With no evolution in their governance, the EIPs remain active as coordination instruments for research and innovation activities at EU level in their respective fields.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/05/23/eu-public-private-partnerships-in-research/

The second Forum on Financing for Development

Written by Eric Pichon,

The New European Consensus on Development

© Franz Pfluegl / fotolia

From 22 to 25 May, the United Nations headquarters in New York will host the second Forum on Financing for Development (FfD forum). This event will gather a variety of stakeholders: governments, local authorities, civil society organisations and international institutions. FfD forums are part of the follow-up process agreed in 2015 during the ‘Addis-Ababa Conference’: the upcoming forum will check progress in the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) commitments. These commitments concern all means of raising money for development. Developed countries re-committed to spend 0.7 % of their GNI on official development aid (ODA) – a target very few of them actually fulfil – while developing countries pledged to improve tax collection – an area where improvements have also not been dramatic. New commitments and recommendations are expected to take the shape of an intergovernmental agreement.

For long, development finance has been put under strain and the trend will only increase in the future. The Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the international community in 2015 are expected to cost “between billions and trillions”, and at the same time natural and man-made crises require huge financial means that are mobilized at the expense of long-term development projects.

The EU and its member states (MS) provide over half of all the global ODA, mainly through MS national budgets and the EU institutions’ budget. Or rather, the ‘budgets’ since the EU money for aid is split between the European Development Fund (EDF, a fund managed by the EU Commission, but with its own financial rules) and the EU budget – itself including several ‘development instruments’. The EU is also in the lead to help developing countries build capacity to better mobilize their domestic resources, or spend aid more effectively.

In parallel, the EU also experiments with innovative financing through public-private partnerships and several trust funds combining money from the EU budget, the EDF and voluntary contributions from some Member States. Critics consider however that new financial instruments, which blend grants with loans, risk aggravating developing countries’ debt burden, and are a way for donors to escape their commitments on ODA spending. Some aid recipients are wary that these new forms of aid are driven by donor interests, such as tackling irregular migration.

Moreover, better financing for development involves more effectiveness on the spending and use of aid. This includes limiting overhead costs by better planning, implementation and appraisal of development projects, as well as a better use of multilateral channels – which also have to improve their working methods. There will be a lot to discuss in New York!

If you are interested in this multifaceted topic, take a look at these EPRS publications:

Le système multilatéral de développement Indispensable mais complexe, May 2017

Understanding ‘development effectiveness ‘An overview of concepts, actors and tools, April 2017

Understanding capacity – building/ capacity development A core concept of development policy, April 2017

European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD), February 2017

Implementing Agenda 2030: Fresh impetus for reforming the UN Development  System, February 2017

EU Trust Funds for external action First uses of a new tool, November 2015

European Development Fund: Joint development cooperation and the EU budget: out or in?, November 2014

L’engagement du secteur privé dans la coopération au développement : Les formes de coopération public – privé, June 2014

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/05/20/the-second-forum-on-financing-for-development/

The digital economy in the EU [What Think Tanks are thinking]

Written by Marcin Grajewski,

Businessman pushing button web with dollar sign virtual.

© maxsim / Fotolia

The digital revolution is reshaping the European Union’s economy, from financial services and telecoms to creative industries and the way workers are employed. While posing certain threats, such as cyber-attacks, new technologies offer vast opportunities, provided that people acquire the right skill-sets to underpin their use.

Seeking to tap the full potential of digitalisation, the European Commission is pushing ahead with its Digital Single Market Strategy. On 10 May, it presented a mid-term review of this strategy, calling for swift approval of proposals already presented and outlining further actions on online platforms, the data economy and cybersecurity.

This note offers links to recent studies and reports from major international think tanks and research institutes on problems and opportunities relating to digitalisation. More studies in innovation in the EU can be found in a previous edition of ‘What Think Tanks are Thinking’, published in July 2016.

Digital technologies can be a 21st-century game-changer for women
Friends of Europe, May 2017

Building an effective European cyber shield
European Political Strategy Centre, May 2017

Europe’s digital power: From geo-economics to cybersecurity
European Council on Foreign Relations, April 2017

From start-up to scale-up: Examining public policies for the financing of high-growth ventures
Bruegel, April 2017

Digital infrastructure: Overcoming the digital divide in emerging economies
Centre for European Policy Studies, April 2017

Digital health ecosystems: A radical shift to drive health innovation across Europe
Friends of Europe, April 2017

Social networks and populism in the EU: A comparative study
Jacques Delors Institute Berlin, April 2017

Reforming e-Communications services: A critical assessment
Centre for European Policy Studies, March 2017

Franco-German axis to drive digital growth and integration
Institut Jacques Delors, March 2017

Reskilling for the fourth industrial revolution: Formulating a European strategy
Jacques Delors Institut, March 2017

Vers la providence 4.0? L’entrée dans le numérique de l’Etat-providence, dans les domaines du travail, de la santé et de l’innovation comparatif européen
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, March 2017

The creative economy in Europe: Why human beings remain the economy’s key asset
Lisbon Council, March 2017

High expectations for 5G confront practical realities
Bruegel, March 2017

Adapting diplomacy to the digital age: Managing the organisational culture of Ministries of Foreign Affairs
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, March 2017

Europe’s telecoms reform fails to fly
Centre for European Policy Studies, March 2017

Big data and first-degree price discrimination
Bruegel, February 2017

Digitales Lernen: Möglichkeiten und Grenzen einer Digitalisierung im Bildungsbereich
Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, February 2017

Policy towards competition in high-speed broadband in Europe
Centre on Regulation in Europe, February 2017

The future of retail financial services: What policy mix for a balanced digital transformation?
Centre for European Policy Studies, February 2017

Making the best of the European single market
Bruegel, February 2017

Enter the data economy
European Political Strategy Centre, January 2017

European leadership in 5G
Centre for European Policy Studies, January 2017

Governing cyberspace: A roadmap for transatlantic leadership
Carnegie Europe, January 2017

Cyberspace and the world order
Carnegie Europe, January 2017

Demand for digital skills in the US labour market: The IT skills pyramid
Centre for European Policy Studies, January 2017

Open Data: Wertschöpfung im digitalen Zeitalter
Bertelsmann Stiftung, January 2017

New Space: L’impact de la révolution numérique sur les acteurs et les politiques spatiales en Europe
Institut français des relations internationales, January 2017

China 4.0: Reaktionen in Partei und Gesellschaft auf die digitale Transformation
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, January 2017

Crowd work in Europe
Fondation Européenne d’Etudes Progressistes, December 2016

Technology disruptions as enablers of organizational and social innovation in the digitalized environment
Research Institute of the Finnish Economy, December 2016

Digital citizens: Countering extremism online
Demos, December 2016

Unleashing internal data flows in the EU: An economic assessment of data localisation measures in the EU member states
European Centre for International Political Economy, December 2016

Digital revolution and illegal trade: Is Europe on the leading edge?
Fondation Robert Schuman, November 2016

EUnited against crime: Improving criminal justice in European Union cyberspace
Institute Affari Internazionali, November 2016

Into the clouds: European SMEs and the digital age
Atlantic Council, October 2016

The EU’s response to the OBOR should be the digital silk road
Friends of Europe, October 2016

The way forward: UK digital policies and Brexit
European Council on Foreign Relations, October 2016

Does state aid for broadband deployment in rural areas close the digital and economic divide?
Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung, October 2016

New network neutrality rules in Europe: Comparisons to those in the U.S.
Bruegel, September 2016

Telecoms Investment in focus: 3 Steps to Create a broadband infrastructure for a digital Europe
Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies, September 2016

Search engines, big data and network effects
Bruegel, September 2016

Combating consumer discrimination in the Digital Single Market: Preventing geo-blocking and other forms of geo-discrimination
Centre for European Policy Studies, September 2016

The digital economy and the single market
Fondation Européenne d’Etudes Progressistes, July 2016

The economic impacts of telecommunications networks and broadband internet: A survey
Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung, July 2016

Connected continent for a future-proof Europe ensuring affordable, fast and reliable internet access for a thriving digital ecosystem
European Political Strategy Centre, July 2016

The digital silk road will be the road of 5G
Friends of Europe, July 2016

Financial services in the digital age: How strengthened digital identity will open markets, drive innovation and deliver growth
Lisbon Council, June 2016


Read this briefing on ‘The digital economy in the EU‘ in PDF.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/05/19/the-digital-economy-in-the-eu-what-think-tanks-are-thinking/

The role of citizens in the future of science

Written by Philip Boucher.

The links between science and policy have been strengthened in recent years. We often hear about the role of scientific evidence in policy-making, but policy also has a substantial influence on the way that science develops. Scientific research is not only about advancing knowledge, but also responding to the most important opportunities and challenges facing European citizens. How do we know what these opportunities and challenges are, and how can we prepare a programme of scientific research that will deliver a meaningful response?

A workshop co-organised by STOA, the Swiss Centre for Technology Assessment (TA-SWISS, STOA’s Swiss counterpart), the Mission of Switzerland to the EU, and SwissCore on this subject presented a valuable opportunity to discuss how citizen engagement can help us to respond to key opportunities and challenges in the 9th EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (FP9), which will succeed the current Horizon 2020 programme.

Setting the scene

The role of citizens in the future of science

The role of citizens in the future of science

Opening the workshop Paul Rübig, (EPP, Austria), First STOA Vice-Chair, referred to the importance of independent expert assessment of scientific and technological options, both for the European Parliament and for the public. The moderator of the workshop, Lars Klüver, Director of the Danish Board of Technology Foundation, then introduced the topic, emphasising four different levels of citizen involvement in science:

  1. Engagement in science policy by shaping broad social frameworks;
  2. Engagement in agenda-setting for science, for example by highlighting priorities;
  3. Steering science by influencing how scientific activity is conducted;
  4. Direct citizen participation in science, e.g. by collecting data.

A key research project which focuses upon the role of citizen engagement in the future of science is currently in its final stages and formed the backdrop for the workshop. The project, CIMULACT (Citizens and Multi-Actor Consultation on Horizon 2020), involved the consultation of more than a thousand citizens in 30 countries, with the aim of involving them in setting the direction of European research, in particular through the next EU framework programme for research and innovation. Sergio Bellucci, Director of TA-SWISS, explained that the report would be finalised over the coming year and should help develop scenarios for research in the future.

European Science – What is the role and responsibility of citizens?

The first panel, on citizens’ role in and responsibility for European science, was opened by Gudela Grote from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich, who focused upon the role of citizens as recipients and sources of scientific data, as well as critical monitors of scientific activity and promoters of specific research agendas. Asked what our responsibilities as citizens are, Grote suggested that we should be open to scientific enquiry, and ready to learn from what science has to offer. At the same time, Grote highlighted the importance of consent to participate in research, either as direct subjects or as producers of data. Finally, Grote suggested we could improve citizen participation by translating and discussing ideas, by being transparent about the interests behind scientific projects, and by truthfully reporting both successes and failures.

Over the last decades, science has developed a huge infrastructure and set of norms and became highly specialised. Daniel Wyler from the University of Zürich noted that this has distanced science from citizens, at a time when it needs citizen engagement for most for its data experiments. More citizen involvement, he argued, would benefit everyone.

Mathea Fammels, from the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), explained how the EIT was set up in 2008 to respond to some of the issues explored at the workshop. Fammels also discussed how we can address innovation differently, with a more people-centred approach, and how we can overcome a tendency to a ‘silo mentality’. Fammels concluded in explaining how, by putting connectivity and education at the heart of the EIT’s approach, they support many cutting-edge innovators and entrepreneurs to create start-ups, as well as helping existing companies to create jobs and improve society.

Finally, Pearl Dykstra – from Erasmus University Rotterdam and member of the High Level Group of scientific advisors to the Cabinet of European Commissioners – explained how a national research agenda for the Netherlands was produced through a call for citizens to submit questions via a popular TV show, featuring prominent ministers and researchers. This dynamic and engaging approach invigorated scientists and citizens alike.

Towards FP9 – How can we address citizens’ concerns for the future through science?

The second panel was opened by Kurt Vandenberghe, from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Research and Innovation. Vandenberghe explained how citizens’ involvement in science is not new for the Commission, but a continuation of a 15 year journey. Work remains to be done, however. Vandenberghe highlighted the need to develop appropriate measurements of excellence, and called for a more open approach to innovation, promoting user-centred innovation.

Eva Kaili (S&D, Greece), Chair of STOA, then took the floor to explain how the various STOA activities respond to the need for good-quality links between science, policy and society, for example through STOA’s MEP-scientist pairing scheme. Kaili highlighted in particular the issue of fake news, outlining possible responses including a European science media hub led by the European Parliament. Kaili argued that, while we should ensure that good-quality data and evidence are available to citizens, it is imperative that the latter are free to access any content and to make decisions for themselves. This freedom of information, she argued, is more important than combatting information that is considered incorrect.

Tracey Brown from Sense about Science – which promotes the use of sound scientific evidence by decision-makers of all kinds – concluded the second panel, sharing a video about the importance of evidence in policy and public life. Truth and evidence, she argued, do not hold enough weight in public affairs. She suggested that we equip citizens for reasoning and encourage alignments between experts and the public to push important issues forward effectively.

If you missed the workshop, you can watch a recording.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/05/19/the-role-of-citizens-in-the-future-of-science/

New Strategic Landscape

Written by Elena Lazarou.

Marietje Schaake (ALDE, The Netherlands)

Marietje Schaake (ALDE, The Netherlands)

On 11 May 2017, EPRS organised a public event on the EU’s external dimension, and more specifically on what the EU’s strategic priorities should be in a changing strategic landscape. The event is the second in a series of roundtables aiming to assist preparatory work in the European Parliament on its forthcoming resolution on the proposals (scheduled for July 2017), ahead of the European Commission’s 2018 work programme (scheduled for October 2017).

The first event in this series, held on 27 April 2017, focused on economic and social policy. The events come at a time of deep reflection about the future of the EU. The European Commission launched its white paper on the future of Europe earlier this year and is also in the process of publishing five reflection papers on major EU issues, including the social dimension, harnessing globalisation, economic and monetary union, defence and finance.

Addressing the audience in her opening remarks, Marietje Schaake (ALDE, The Netherlands), raised the topic’s central question: what does it mean for the EU to be a global actor? Multiple recent events have tested the EU’s resolve in this area, including Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the election of Donald J. Trump as president and his unpredictability as a policymaker, and the referendum consolidating presidential power in Turkey. Schaake emphasised that the EU needs to meet external policy challenges with strong political leadership, informed by core values.

EPRS roundtable discussion - ' EU in the new strategic landscape: Setting European priorities '

EPRS roundtable discussion – ‘ EU in the new strategic landscape: Setting European priorities ‘

The speakers agreed that the internal and external strategic landscape for the EU has changed, and not only recently. Alfredo Conte, head of the Strategic Planning Division at the EEAS, pointed out that the EU has altered one of its fundamental assumptions over the past 13 years; the bloc no longer expects that external players are also following a path to democracy, openness and multilateralism. Questioning of the value of multilateral institutions from major partners such as the USA has caused anxiety. However, Elena Lazarou, a policy analyst with the External Policies Unit of the EPRS, pointed out that the USA is not the first country to raise the question of reform of intergovernmental institutions, and that reform may be in order more than ever before. Additionally, recent challenges have proven particularly problematic for internal EU dynamics. Rosa Balfour, Senior Fellow of the Europe Programme at the German Marshall Fund, argued that the east and south remain divided over their priorities. Eastern states are more concerned about Russian aggression and NATO, while the southern states seek support in dealing with the migrant crisis. The Brexit process will also have a significant impact on EU financial resources and yet, as Balfour stated, only 6 % of the budget goes to external policy. These are all questions that need to be addressed.

Elena LAZAROU & Etienne BASSOT

Elena LAZAROU & Etienne BASSOT

Turkey and the Middle East, significant areas in EU external policy, including in the Commission’s work programme, present opportunities for the EU to redefine aspects of its external policy. Steven Blockmans, senior research fellow at the Centre for European Policy Studies, noted that it is time for a ‘reset’ in EU-Turkey relations, one that should begin with the formal ending of Turkey’s accession negotiations. Blockmans remarked that candidate countries need to learn that this process is not automatic; leaders in the Western Balkans, for example, create unrest domestically because they know that doing so will garner European attention and thus advance their own accession processes. In regards to Syria, Blockmans stated that the EU needs to ensure that the political transformation occurs in the best possible manner, including implementing transitional justice and supporting peace talks.

The unpredictability of US foreign policy under President Trump is of concern to both Member State and EU leaders. Nevertheless, the transatlantic relationship has remained steady thus far. Giovanni Grevi, a senior fellow at the European Policy Centre, argued that US foreign policy under Trump has actually remained consistent, although much uncertainty still exists as to whether future policy will proceed in a pragmatic or nationalist direction. While the US is a core partner, Grevi argued that it is entirely possible for US-EU relations to move in a more asymmetric and transactional direction. The EU must be prepared for this shift, continuing to engage with the USA, whilst also reaching out to other important partners, such as China.

The speakers agreed that continued EU engagement (including taking a more forward role in foreign policy) is vital to meeting both internal and external challenges. Grevi, Balfour and Conte all stated that the EU needs to engage more effectively with non-state actors, especially civil society groups. To improve internal cohesion, Balfour recommended a ‘grand compromise’ between the east and south. The EU should also seek to strengthen its resources as a foreign policy actor. Balfour recommended an increase in human resources, including dedicating more resources under the Multiannual Financial Framework, to supporting diplomacy and conflict prevention efforts. With the prospect of a reduced US budget affecting American involvement at the UN, Grevi emphasised that the EU should form informal coalitions within the UN to fill the potential leadership gap.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/05/18/new-strategic-landscape/

Plastics in a circular economy: Opportunities and challenges

Written by Didier Bourguignon,

large group of empty plastic bottles

© fottoo / Fotolia

Plastics pervade modern life; plastics production has been growing exponentially since the 1960s and is expected to double by 2036. Although there are over 1 000 types of plastic, 90 % of plastics are derived from virgin fossil fuels.

In Europe, post-consumer plastic waste is either incinerated with energy recovery (39 %), landfilled (31 %) or recycled (30%). It is estimated that half of the plastic waste recycled is treated in the EU, while the other half is exported for recycling.

The production and consumption of plastics today offer a series of benefits (in particular low production costs, durability and versatility) but also pose a number of problems (in particular loss of material value as a result of single use and low recycling rates, as well as ill-effects on nature, climate and human health). Marine litter and microplastics are a source of particular concern.

Several pieces of EU legislation apply to plastics and plastic waste, although implementation is incomplete. In 2015, the Commission identified plastics as one of the priority areas of the circular economy action plan, proposed new reuse and recycling targets for plastic packaging waste and pledged to adopt a strategy on plastics in the circular economy by the end of 2017.

A circular economy implies reducing waste to a minimum. Moving the plastics value chain in this direction would mean improving recycling, promoting reuse, and redesigning products, while taking into account the whole life-cycle of products. Although this could deliver opportunities (in particular enhanced security of supply, economic benefits and reduced pressure on the environment) there are also challenges (in particular weak economic incentives, technical issues and finance).

The European Parliament recognises the need to introduce specific measures on plastic waste in EU legislation and to value plastics as a resource.


Read the complete briefing on ‘Plastics in a circular economy: Opportunities and challenges‘.


Plastics demand by sector (2015)

Plastics demand by sector (2015)

Examples of how the most common polymer types are used

Examples of how the most common polymer types are used

Plastics demand by polymer (2015)

Plastics demand by polymer (2015)

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/05/18/plastics-in-a-circular-economy-opportunities-and-challenges/