Месечни архиви: юни 2017

Migration into the EU [What Think Tanks are thinking]

Written by Marcin Grajewski,

Silhouette of a group of refugees walking with flag of Europe as a background

© rexandpan

At the European Council meeting of 23 June 2017, European Union Heads of State or Government agreed to strengthen efforts to reduce irregular migration flows on the central Mediterranean route, notably by speeding up training, equipping the Libyan coast guard and improving cooperation with countries of migration origin. However, the European Council made limited progress on reforming the Common European Asylum System, with the migration debate clouded by refusal of some central and eastern European countries to accept refugees under the existing quotas.

This note offers links to recent commentaries and studies on migration from major international think-tanks and research institutes. Earlier papers on the same topic can be found in a previous edition of ‘What Think Tanks are thinking’, published in February 2017.

Sharing responsibility for refugees and expanding legal migration
Centre for European Policy Studies, June 2017

An Australian ‘model’ for the EU’s migration crisis?
European Policy Centre, June 2017

Don’t close borders, manage them: How to improve EU policy on migration through Libya
European Council on Foreign Relations, June 2017

Entre vieillissement et migrations: La difficile équation allemande
Institut français des relations internationales, June 2017

Weathering crisis, forging ahead: Swedish asylum and integration policy
Migration Policy Institute, June 2017

In search of common values amid large-scale immigrant integration pressures
Migration Policy Institute, June 2017

Syria shows it’s time to take climate migration seriously
Friends of Europe, June 2017

Turkey and the EU: Perpetual crisis or restricted cooperation?
German Marshall Fund, June 2017

Global migration governance and mixed flows
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, June 2017

Zwänge und Spielräume für eine europäische Grenz- und Flüchtlingspolitik
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, June 2017

Understanding public attitudes towards refugees and migrants
Overseas Development Institute, Chatham House, June 2017

The myth of return: The market of symbolic policies
Barcelona Centre for International Affairs, June 2017

Tackling irregular migration through development: A flawed approach?
European Policy Centre, May 2017

Focus on refugees risks neglecting the internally displaced
Chatham House, May 2017

Europe’s forgotten refugee crisis
Centre for European Reform, May 2017

Europe’s Refugee Crisis and the Threat of Terrorism: An extraordinary threat?
Danish Institute for International Studies, May 2017

Asylum detention in Europe: State of play and ways forward
Notre Europe, May 2017

What happens after finding refuge? The integration of Syrian refugees in Germany and Turkey
Instituto Affari Internazionali, May 2017

Sharing the responsibility or shifting the focus? The responses of the EU and the Visegrad countries to the post-2015 arrival of migrants and refugees
Instituto Affari Internazionali, May 2017

The new Frontex and the future of Schengen: A brick fortress, or a castle made of sand?
Finnish Institute of International Affairs, May 2017

Libya: The strategy that wasn’t
Centre for European Policy Studies, April 2017

Migration and integration: A cost-benefit analysis
Friends of Europe, April 2017

Europe’s role in North Africa: Development, investment and migration
Bruegel, April 2017

Immigration, a consensual issue in the French presidential campaign?
Clingendael, April 2017

Why the EU should terminate accession negotiations with Turkey
Centre for European Policy Studies, April 2017

Global migration governance im Zeitalter gemischter Wanderungen: Folgerungen für eine entwicklungsorientierte Migrationspolitik
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, April 2017

The refugee debate in Central and Eastern Europe: Can the EU-Turkey deal survive without intra EU convergence on relocation and resettlement?
Istituto Affari Internazionali, April 2017

The EU’s external migration policy: Towards win-win-win partnerships
Jacques Delors Institute, Berlin, April 2017

Implementation of the 2015 Council Decisions establishing provisional measures in the area of international protection for the benefit of Italy and of Greece
Centre for European Policy Studies, March 2017

What role for the EU in the UN negotiations on a Global Compact on Migration?
Centre for European Policy Studies, March 2017

Mapping the migration challenges in the EU transit and destination countries
Centre for Economic and Regional Studies HAS, Institute of World Economics, March 2017

Rebuilding after crisis: Embedding refugee integration in migration management systems
Migration Policy Institute, March 2017

Improving the labour market integration of migrants and refugees: Empowering cities through better use of EU instruments
Migration Policy Institute, March 2017

Listen to Us, too! Flight, migration, and integration from the perspective of NGOs in the Visegrad region
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, March 2017

Migration along the Central Mediterranean route
Clingendael, March 2017

Will Europe follow Trump on migration?
Carnegie Europe, March 2017

Gender inequality and integration of non-EU migrants in the EU
Centre for European Policy Studies, February 2017

Improving the responses to the migration and refugee crisis in Europe
Bruegel, February 2017

The EU deal with Libya on migration: A question of fairness and effectiveness
European Council on Foreign Relations, February 2017

Making waves: Implications of the irregular migration and refugee situation on official development assistance spending and practices in Europe
European Centre for Development Policy Management, February 2017

Read this briefing on ‘Migration into the EU‘ in PDF.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/06/30/migration-into-the-eu-what-think-tanks-are-thinking/

Outcome of European Council meeting of 22-23 June 2017

Written by Ralf Drachenberg and Suzana Anghel,

Outcome of European Council meeting of 22-23 June 2017

Copyright: European Union

The main results of the European Council meeting of 22-23 June 2017 include the ‘historic step’ of agreeing to set up ‘permanent structured cooperation’ in European defence, the commitment to implement the Paris Agreement on climate change in all its aspects, and the extension of sanctions against Russia. The EU Heads of State or Government also reviewed progress in deepening the single market, endorsed the country-specific recommendations on economic policy, pledged to increase cooperation on counter-terrorism, and called for reinforced cooperation with countries of origin and transit to tackle migration issues. EU-27 leaders endorsed the procedural arrangements for the relocation of the EU agencies currently sited in the UK.

  1. Implementation of European Council decisions

The Maltese Prime Minister, and President-in-office of the Council, Joseph Muscat, reported on the progress made in implementing previous European Council conclusions. The follow-up to new commitments made at this European Council meeting (see Table 1) will be reported on at future meetings.

Table 1: New European Council committments and requests with a specific time schedule

  1. Security and defence
  • Internal security and the fight against terrorism

European leaders strongly condemned the recent terrorist attacks in various Member States, and expressed their united and firm stance in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism. They also underlined the importance of providing support to the victims of acts of terror. Heads of State or Government reiterated their previous committments to coordinate their work, enhance relevant information-sharing, combat terrorist financing, strengthen counter-terrorism engagement with partners, and improve the interoperability of databases. In this context, the European Council invited the Commission to prepare, rapidly, draft legislation enacting the proposals made by the High-Level Expert Group on interoperability.

The European Council adressed the responsibility of the internet industry to help combat terrorism and crime online. It called on social media companies to do whatever is necessary to prevent the spread of terrorist material on the internet, such as establishing an Industry Forum and developing new technology and tools to improve the automatic detection and removal of content that incites terrorist acts. These actions should be complemented by relevant legislative measures at EU level, if necessary.

EU leaders recalled the importance of the proposed Entry/Exit System (EES) and the proposed European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) for enhancing external border controls and internal security.

  • External security and defence

The June 2017 European Council represented a milestone in the field of Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). EU leaders stressed that ‘significant progress’ has been made in implementing the security and defence dimension of the EU Global Strategy, and they called for the establishment of ‘an inclusive and ambitious Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO)’. In his post-summit remarks, the European Council President, Donald Tusk, defined this development as a ‘historic step’ allowing the EU to ‘move towards deeper integration in defence’. In the next three months, the Member States will draw up ‘a common list of criteria and binding commitments’ applicable in relation to PESCO. The use of the phrase ‘binding commit­ments’ reflects a policy shift, from voluntary participation in CSDP activities towards mandatory participation in PESCO-run projects and activities for those Member States which agree to take part in the mechanism.

EU leaders reconfirmed their commitment to strengthen the Union’s rapid reaction capacities, both civilian and military. With respect to the latter, they made a substantive step forward by deciding to have the EU Battlegroups deployment costs borne by the Athena Mechanism, which is to be reviewed by the end of 2017.

EU leaders also welcomed the European Commission’s communication on the European Defence Fund (EDF), which is intended to finance the development of defensive capabilities from the EU budget (research window) and through the pooling of national financial resources (capabilities window). EU leaders called for the ‘swift operationalisation’ of the fund, which is expected to allow Europe to spend more on defence in better ways. The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, stated that Europeans are currently collectively spending 50 % of the amount of the US military budget, with only 15 % of the efficiency.

EU leaders also noted the progress made in implementing the Joint Declaration with NATO, particularly in countering security threats, as well as terrorism, and cyber and hybrid warfare. With respect to the last of these, the Heads of State or Government welcomed the creation of a European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, which will also contribute to strengthening EU-NATO cooperation.

  1. The Paris Agreement on climate change

As expected, the European Council reiterated the EU’s and its Member States’ determination to fulfil their commitment to the 2015 Paris Agreement, including financial contributions, underlining that the agreement is not renegotiable. EU leaders also reaffirmed their willingness to act as a leader in the global fight against climate change, and highlighted the need to build new, and strengthen existing, partnerships. The Council and the Commission were also invited to pursue their efforts to implement the Paris Agreement.

  1. Jobs, Growth and Competitiveness

The President of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, briefed the Heads of State or Government on the generally improved economic situation in the Union. In accordance with previous conclusions, the European Council took stock of progress in deepening and modernising the Single Market, welcoming the progress already achieved, and called for continuing efforts in the fields not only of the Single Market, but the Digital Single Market, the Capital Markets Union and the Energy Union. EU leaders endorsed the Commission’s mid-term reviews on the Digital Single Market and the Capital Markets Union, underlining the effective implementation and enforcement of existing legislation.

In line with the Council conclusions of May 2017, which called for a holistic EU industrial policy strategy, EU leaders emphasised the fundamental role of industry in generating growth and jobs in the EU. They reiterated the need to reinforce the industrial base of the single market. In terms of boosting investment, EU leaders repeated their call for the co-legislators to rapidly agree on the proposed extension of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), having previously asked for its adoption ‘during the first half of 2017’. EU leaders reiterated their call for an agreement on trade defence instruments and have called on the Commission to ensure their effective application, in addition to looking into any complementary measures (if necessary). EU leaders emphasised that trade and investment can only be free if accompanied by mutually reciprocal benefits. In February 2017, the German, French and Italian governments expressed their concern that certain countries did not match the EU level of market openness when it came to investment and public procurement. EU leaders have invited the Commission to analyse investments from third countries in strategic sectors while respecting Member States’ competences. Member States are divided on this issue, with some states favouring stronger protection for key industries while others oppose unnecessary barriers to trade and investment. The European Council also referred to free trade agreement negotiations with Mercosur, Mexico and the Asia-Pacific region, in particular Japan, where there is a strong incentive to reach an early political agreement ahead of the July 2017 G20 summit.

As flagged up in the EPRS Outlook, the European Council endorsed the country-specific recommendations (CSRs) previously discussed in the Council and in accordance with the 2017 European Semester.

  1. Migration

Following the presentation on the follow-up to the Malta Declaration of February 2017 by the Maltese Prime Minister and President-in-office of the Council, Joseph Muscat, EU leaders reiterated their commitment to ‘the Union’s comprehensive approach to migration’, including the effective control of external borders, the reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) and the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement. They called for ‘stepping up coordination and delivery on all the elements contained in the Malta Declaration, the Partnership Framework and the Joint Valletta Action Plan, underpinned by sufficient financial resources’. President Tusk had already drawn EU leaders‘ attention to this issue, because he felt that ‘at the working level some of [the Member State] representatives are not taking the necessary decisions in this regard’. President Juncker stressed that it is unacceptable that many Member States have not followed up on their financial pledges, in particular for the Trust Fund for Africa, and he urged EU leaders to do more.

In order to stem the migratory pressure on Libya’s and other neighbouring countries’ land borders, Heads of State or Government called for cooperation with countries of origin and transit to be reinforced, and asked for the training and equipping of the Libyan Coast Guard to be speeded up. While concentrating their attention on the Central Mediterranean route, EU leaders also pledged to continue being vigilant on all migration routes. EU leaders also called for further progress in the return and readmission policy.

Related to the reform of the CEAS, Heads of State or Government invited the European Commission to ‘explore possible solutions to alleviate the burden on front-line Member States’ and invited ‘the Council to continue negotiations on this basis and amend the legislative proposals as necessary, with the active help of the Commission’. This conclusion adapts a previous objective of the European Council, in which it had aimed at achieving consensus on the EU’s asylum policy during the Maltese Presidency, but was unsuccessful due to highly divergent positions. The President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, stressed that the issue of migration is of absolute priority for the European Parliament.

  1. Digital Europe

EU leaders strongly embraced the digital transformation. The European Council underlined the necessity of implementing the Digital Single Market strategy and the importance of having a broad digital vision for Europe, including a holistic approach to its various dimensions. EU leaders also endorsed the forthcoming review of the existing cybersecurity strategy.

  1. External relations

EU leaders discussed the situation in the EU’s neighbourhood, without adopting any conclusions. President Tusk informed them about the meetings in May 2017 with the US President, Donald Trump, and with the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He reported on the outcome of the G7 Summit in Taormina and the EU-China Summit, and called for the finalisation, in the coming weeks, of ratification of the Association Agreement with Ukraine, following his meeting with the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, prior to the European Council meeting. The new President of France, Emmanuel Macron, and the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, informed their colleagues about the implementation of the Minsk agreements, and the European Council agreed to extend the sanctions on Russia due totheir limited implementation.

  1. Other items
  • Tribute to Helmut Kohl

European leaders also paid tribute to Helmut Kohl, former German Chancellor and Honorary Citizen of Europe, who passed away on 16 June 2017. To honour his legacy, the three European institutions are co-organising a European Ceremony of Honour on 1 July, in the European Parliament’s Strasbourg hemicycle.

  • United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union

The British Prime Minister, Theresa May, set out the UK’s plans ‘to protect the rights of EU citizens living in the UK, and UK citizens living in the EU’. The detailed UK offer for EU citizens’ settlement rights was published on Monday 26 June 2017. In President Tusk’s opinion, ‘the UK’s offer is below our expectations, and it risks worsening the situation of citizens’, restating that ‘citizens’ rights are the number one priority for the EU-27’.

  • European Council minutes

This meeting also introduced the new procedure of making European Council minutes publicly available automatically, following their formal adoption at the subsequent European Council meeting. EU leaders can, however, still decide not to publish minutes, on a case-by-case basis.

  1. European Council (Article 50) meeting on 22 June 2017

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, briefed the 27 members of the European Council (Article 50) on the first meeting between the EU and the UK in the Article 50 negotiations, on 19 June 2017, at which the two sides agreed on the terms of reference for the negotiations. Both the UK government and the EU negotiator evaluated the start of negotiations as very constructive. President Donald Tusk stated that ‘Brexit took up very little time at this European Council.’

  • Relocation of the European Medicines Agency and the European Banking Authority

In the margins of the European Council (Article 50) meeting, leaders endorsed the procedural arrangements for the relocation of the EU agencies currently sited in the UK, including the timeline set out below. The five criteria for the relocation of each agency are: 1) the assurance that the agency can be set up on-site and take up its functions at the date of the UK’s withdrawal from the Union; 2) the accessibility of the location; 3) the existence of adequate education facilities for the children of agency staff; 4) appropriate access to the labour market, social security and medical care for both children and spouses; and 5) business continuity.


Read this briefing on ‘Outcome of European Council meeting of 22-23 June 2017‘ in PDF.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/06/29/outcome-of-european-council-meeting-of-22-23-june-2017/

Current priorities and challenges in EU agricultural policy [Policy Podcast]

Written by James McEldowney,

Dairy cows grazing in the meadow with farm house buildings in background

© Springfield Gallery / Fotolia

The European Commission’s work programme for 2017 includes a commitment to progress and consult widely on the simplification and modernisation of the common agricultural policy (CAP). A public consultation exercise was launched at the beginning of February 2017 and closed on 2 May 2017. A number of stakeholder organisations and think tanks have issued their reflections on the future shape of EU agricultural policy post 2020. In the last reform of the CAP, the European Parliament had a key role to play in this process. Both the Parliament and the Council will have responsibility to legislate on the Commission’s proposals. A key role is performed by the Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development. Future discussions on these matters can therefore be anticipated.

The Maltese Presidency has identified a number of priorities to guide the discussion on future policy and also held a debate earlier in the year on the future of the CAP in the Agriculture Council. A communication is expected from the Commission before the end of 2017.

This briefing provides a short overview of these issues, along with a summary of the key elements of the current CAP, some key features of EU agriculture including the prospects for the main agricultural markets based on the Commission’s most recent agricultural outlook report. Recent developments in Council are also covered, and a number of stakeholder perspectives are highlighted.

Read the complete briefing on ‘Current priorities and challenges in EU agricultural policy‘.

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Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/06/29/current-priorities-and-challenges-in-eu-agricultural-policy-policy-podcast/

Creating opportunities: The EU and students [Policy Podcast]

Written by Ivana Katsarova,

Group of school children jumpng isolated in white

© Luis Louro / Fotolia

Over one third of the European Union (EU) population – some 170 million citizens – are aged under 30, with half that number under the age of 15 years. Although education policies in the EU are essentially decided and implemented by the individual EU countries, the EU provides sound evidence and analysis to help national governments make informed policy decisions and drive reforms to improve educational outcomes and the employability of young people. For this purpose, in 2009, the EU set a series of common objectives to address the most pressing concerns in EU education systems by 2020.

In several areas, the EU scores well. In 2015, 39 % of the EU workforce held a higher education degree. Between 2005 and 2015, the percentage of early school leavers decreased by some 30 %, even though during 2016, progress towards meeting the EU target slowed and currently stands at an average of 11 % – one percentage point away from achieving the target.

However, the EU faces the major challenge of further upskilling its population and reducing under-achievement in basic skills. In specific terms, the results show that over 22 % of EU students have low achievement levels in mathematics, nearly 18 % in reading, and some 17 % in science. Moreover, by 2020, the EU aims for at least 15 % participation in learning among the population aged 25-64 years. Nevertheless, progress towards this target has been very limited. The EU average in adult learning stood at some 11 % in 2014 (the target was 15 %), and did not increase in 2015. Only urgent and substantive action will enable the EU to reach the benchmark.

On a more optimistic note, the Erasmus student mobility programme that has allowed more than 9 million Europeans to study abroad, turns 30 in 2017. Widely recognised as one of the most successful EU programmes, Erasmus provides a concrete example of the positive impact of European integration.

Read the complete briefing on ‘Creating opportunities: The EU and students‘.

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Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/06/29/creating-opportunities-the-eu-and-students-policy-podcast/

Promoting development in the outermost regions [Plenary Podcast]

Written by Christiaan Van Lierop,

Church Of Saint Henry, Martinique Island - Lesser Antilles, French overseas territory

© notsunami / Fotolia

Located far from the European continent and with regional gross domestic product well below the EU average, the EU’s outermost regions – the Azores, the Canary Islands, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Madeira, Martinique, Mayotte, Réunion and Saint-Martin – face many challenges to development, owing to factors such as climate or economic dependence on a few products. A report on promoting cohesion and development in the outermost regions is due to be debated in Parliament’s July session.


In contrast to the EU’s overseas countries and territories, which are not members of the single market, the outermost regions are an integral part of the EU and are fully governed by the provisions of the Treaties. Article 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union provides for specific measures in areas such as customs, trade, agriculture and fisheries policies to support their development and reduce the impact of their structural challenges. Measures include the Programme of Options Specifically Relating to Remoteness and Insularity (POSEI), which promote specific supply arrangements to limit the additional transport costs of agricultural produce and provide support for local agricultural production, with a similar scheme also existing for the fisheries sector. The 2014-2020 cohesion policy framework also provides support, with the Common Provisions Regulation providing for special aid of €30 per inhabitant per year in the outermost regions, with some €6.6 billion also allocated under the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund across 14 operational programmes. Total EU funding for these regions is estimated at €13 billion.

Addressing the challenges facing the outermost regions

People in the outermost regions face a unique set of challenges such as high living costs, limited market competition, problems with mobility or high rates of unemployment and social exclusion, exacerbated by strong population growth. The Commission has initiated a number of strategies to help the outermost regions address these problems, with its most recent 2012 communication setting out measures to improve access to the single market, increase competitiveness, strengthen regional integration, reinforce the social dimension and mainstream climate change action. With the Commission due to review implementation of the measures outlined in the 2012 communication by the end of 2017, stakeholders have already begun to draft their contributions to the new strategy. Common concerns raised include the need to ensure that trade agreements take better account of outermost regions’ needs, the importance of maintaining specific provisions in areas such as cohesion policy, and providing the outermost regions with better access to horizontal programmes. In a joint memorandum published in March 2017, the outermost regions stressed the need for the EU to adopt a differentiated approach for them in all European policies, to take account of their specific nature, while the Conference of Peripheral and Maritime Regions’ proposals include referring to Article 349 and territorial cohesion in the rules on partnership to ensure greater outermost region involvement.

Report on promoting cohesion and development in the outermost regions

A recent Regional Development Committee (REGI) report on the issue should also feed into the discussion on the future shape of the Commission’s strategy. Stressing the development potential of the outermost regions in areas such as blue growth and renewable energy, it calls for a more innovative interpretation of Article 349 to help frame ad hoc programmes and specific new policies for the outermost regions. The report considers it vital to maintain the POSEI and argues that new POSEI programmes should also be envisaged in other policy areas, calling also on the Commission to put forward an action plan accompanied, where applicable, by legislative initiatives to allow implementation of a coherent, effective strategy for the outermost regions.

Own-initiative report: 2016/2250(INI); Committee responsible: REGI; Rapporteur: Younous Omarjee (GUE/NGL, France)

Read this Plenary At a Glance note on ‘Promoting development in the outermost regions‘ in PDF.

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Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/06/29/promoting-development-in-the-outermost-regions-plenary-podcast/

EU strategy for international cultural relations [Plenary Podcast]

Written by Magdalena Pasikowska-Schnass,

Illustration Vector Graphic Diversity for different purpose in web and graphic design

© GreenOptix / Fotolia

Culture as a tool of EU diplomacy aims at reinforcing cultural diversity, human rights, and social and economic cohesion based on cultural and creative industries as a driving force for growth. Yet, in the view of the European Parliament, EU action needs proper funding and a clearly defined programme. An own-initiative report on the communication ‘Towards an EU strategy for international cultural relations’ is due to be voted during the July plenary session.


Europe’s cultural and artistic heritage, as well as its thriving creative and cultural sector, raise interest all over the world and attract a significant number of tourists and visitors. The EU’s specific experience of reconciling respect for divergent traditions, different cultures and languages with its ambition to forge common solutions and provide peace and prosperity, enhances the potential of international action as a ‘soft power’ promoting intercultural and inter-religious dialogue, with freedom of expression and creation as its fundamental values.

EU achievements on external cultural relations

Ten years ago, the European Commission adopted a communication on a European agenda for culture in a globalising world, aimed at granting culture a more significant place in EU external relations. It was endorsed by the European Council in 2007, and successive 2008, 2014 and 2015 conclusions of the Council of the EU further highlighted the diplomatic potential of cultural relations. The European Parliament endorsed the 2007 agenda for culture in a 2008 resolution, calling for EU coordination of cultural relations and the promotion of European culture in its 2011 resolution. A year later it voted for a dedicated budget of €500 000 for a preparatory action on culture in external relations for the 2013-2014 period. A resultant 2014 study fed into the June 2016 joint communication, ‘Towards an EU strategy for international cultural relations’, by the Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The communication outlines three areas of EU cultural actions in external relations: socio-economic development focusing on cultural policies, the role of local authorities in cultural initiatives, and cultural and creative industries in partner countries; intercultural dialogue for peace and stability; and protection of cultural heritage against natural disasters, armed conflicts, and trafficking in artefacts, which finances terrorist activities. Until recently, the EU has not coordinated cultural activities in the external action of its Member States, leading to their fragmentation at EU level. The 2016 communication introduces elements of coordination, such as cultural focal points in EU delegations, and creates tools for enhanced EU cooperation though existing policy instruments and funding mechanisms. A Cultural Diplomacy Platform was created in 2016 to facilitate networking of cultural stakeholders, develop training programmes and provide advice on cultural policy. A fund of €1.5 million will finance EU film festivals in the world as of 2017. The May 2017 Council conclusions confirmed the need to coordinate actions via a dedicated platform.

European Parliament position

On 30 May 2017, the Committees on Foreign Affairs (AFET) and on Culture and Education (CULT) adopted an own initiative report, ‘towards an EU strategy for international cultural relations’. The report finds that the communication lacks substance and an effective EU cultural diplomacy strategy, with an annual action programme and a separate budget line. It highlights the importance of creators’ international mobility, and calls for the development of international artists’ residency programmes as well as regional creative hubs. Council presidencies could launch joint cultural actions with the EU, and Member States should cooperate in the fight against trafficking in heritage artefacts.

Own-initiative report: 2016/2240(INI); Committees responsible: AFET and CULT (jointly under Rule 55); Rapporteurs: Elmar Brok (EPP, Germany), Sylvia Costa (S&D, Italy).

Read this Plenary At a Glance note on ‘EU strategy for international cultural relations‘ in PDF.

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Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/06/29/eu-strategy-for-international-cultural-relations-plenary-podcast/

Setting European Priorities: The cohesion policy perspective

Written by Vasileios Margaras,

EPRS: ' Setting European priorities: The cohesion policy perspective '

European Parliament Vice-President Ramón Luis Valcárcel Siso (EPP, Spain) opened an EPRS roundtable discussion on ‘Setting European Priorities: The cohesion policy perspective’ on 20 June in the EP Library reading room. An audience of representatives from local and regional offices, as well as MEP offices and officials, demonstrated the growing interest in the future of cohesion policy. Providing an overview of the cohesion policy contribution to the lives of European citizens – and the current challenges – the Vice-President referred to the Treaties that established the European Union, which underpin European integration.

Cohesion policy contributes positively to job creation, sustainable development and entrepreneurial competitiveness in the EU. Vice-President Valcárcel Siso applauded the indisputable progress achieved with the use of European Structural and Investment Funds. There is no substitute for cohesion policy – which covers Europe’s basic needs – and should continue to do so. The EU should not leave behind those who need help. As negotiations begin for the next EU Multiannual Financial Framework, the time is now right for a proper debate on cohesion policy.

However – although Brexit constitutes a major issue for the EU budget – it should not monopolise the discussion on the future of cohesion policy. Questions to address include what form of financial support for regions are most suitable: grants – or financial instruments? In this respect, the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI, known as the Juncker investment plan), should contribute added value to cohesion policy, rather than being seen a substitute. The discussion also highlighted the issues of governance, rural-urban connections and the urban dimension of the EU, as themes of major importance. Linking cohesion policy to the priorities of EU economic governance is a further crucial, albeit divisive issue, which underlines tensions between contributing and receiving countries.

EPRS: ' Setting European priorities: The cohesion policy perspective 'Lambert van Nistelrooij (EPP, The Netherlands) highlighted the importance of European territorial cooperation and smart specialisation. The latter is vital to Europe’s prosperity, as it boosts production and exports in a global era. It is important to further explore solutions to improve communication of cohesion policy, particularly as, for citizens, even the benefits of completed projects may take years to materialise. There is a need for a real code of conduct on partnership, so that the involvement of local and regional actors in the shaping of cohesion policy continues.

Focusing on the difficulties that bureaucratic overload causes local and regional authorities when dealing with the ESI Funds, Petr Osvald, Member of the Committee of Regions, made the case for simplification. Indeed, this was a common priority for all the panel speakers. Greater flexibility would make cohesion policy programmes easier to implement. Osvald also mentioned the recently established Alliance on the future of cohesion policy, created with Committee of the Regions support, and the participation of many other regional lobbies.

Professor Simona Piattoni (EUI/University of Trento) focused on structural adjustment and macroeconomic management – providing a multilevel governance perspective. Piattoni mentioned that the many different targets and priorities have overloaded cohesion policy. Better indicators, differentiated instruments, and special task forces may make it more efficient. Piattoni also discussed uneven capacity for governance, as well as underperforming regions, and made suggestions as to how to tackle the problems.

The session concluded with a lively discussion, which touched upon many of the issues raised by the panellists. The debate will certainly continue until the next MFF priorities emerge.

For a deeper understanding of the issues, try the following EPRS publications:

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Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/06/27/setting-european-priorities-the-cohesion-policy-perspective/

How the EU budget is spent: Macro-financial assistance

Written by Ana Claudia Alfieri,

Macro-financial assistance

© Comugnero Silvana / Fotolia

One important European Union (EU) objective is to achieve macroeconomic and political stability in its neighbourhood by ‘developing a zone of shared stability, security, and prosperity’ through a set of policies that help to bring candidate, potential candidate, and neighbourhood countries closer to the EU. One of these policies is macro-financial assistance: an instrument the EU uses exceptionally to help countries that ‘play a determining role in regional stability, are of strategic importance for the Union, and are politically, economically and geographically close to the Union’ to overcome acute balance-of-payments crises.

The Macro-Financial Assistance (MFA) instrument was created in 1990 as a way to provide macroeconomic support to countries in Eastern Europe with external financing problems and to facilitate their transition to a market economy. The first beneficiary of this instrument was Hungary, which received a loan of €870 million that year. Between 1990 and 1999, eight countries (that would subsequently join the EU: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovakia) benefited from loans. Hungary received the largest amount (€1 050 million), with Romania (€780 million) and Bulgaria (€750 million) also major beneficiaries.

When a country needs assistance, it makes an official request to the European Commission, which carries out an ex-ante evaluation of the country’s financial needs and writes a proposal for the provision of MFA to that country. The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union take the decision to launch an MFA operation using the ordinary legislative procedure. The operation can take the form of loans or grants; loans are financed by borrowing in the international financial markets, while grants come directly from the EU budget. Grants are given only to countries classified by the World Bank as low or lower-middle income, and which have high poverty rates and debt sustainability problems.

Macro-Financial Assistance can only be an exceptional and temporary measure, and is based on strict political and economic conditions:

  • The eligible country must respect effective democratic mechanisms, including a multi-party parliamentary system and the rule of law, and guarantee respect for human rights.
  • An MFA operation must be paired with and complement an International Monetary Fund (IMF) adjustment programme, which means a previous agreement on a credit arrangement to alleviate short-term balance of payment difficulties and implement adjustment measures between the eligible country or territory and the IMF has to be in place.
  • There is a significant and residual external financing gap over and above the resources provided by the IMF and other multilateral institutions, despite the implementation of strong economic stabilisation and reform programmes by the relevant country or territory.
  • The assistance has to be exceptional and complementary to the resources provided by the IMF and other multilateral financial institutions, and there has to be fair burden-sharing between the Union and other donors.

The countries outside the EU that have been granted assistance since 1990 are Albania, Algeria, Armenia, Belarus, Bosnia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Kosovo, the Kyrgyz Republic, Lebanon, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia and Montenegro, Serbia, Tajikistan, Tunisia and Ukraine.

Read the full publication on ‘Macro-financial assistance’.

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Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/06/26/how-the-eu-budget-is-spent-macro-financial-assistance/

Start of Brexit negotiations [What Think Tanks are thinking]

Written by Marcin Grajewski,

Negotiation of Great Britain and European Union (Brexit). Statesman or politicians with clasped hands.

© vchalup / Fotolia

Formal negotiations on the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union under Article 50 TEU got under way on 19 June, as both sides agreed in principle how to organise the talks and underlined their mutual goodwill. The talks began nearly a year after the U.K. referendum to leave the EU (on 23 June 2016) and less than two weeks after a general election that left the ruling Conservative Party without a majority in the House of Commons.

This note offers links to recent commentaries and reports published by major international think tanks on the UK’s plans to leave the EU and the wider implications of Brexit. More studies on issues raised by the vote can be found in a previous edition of ‘What Think Tanks are thinking’ from April 2017.

Brexit: Next steps of UK’s withdrawal from the EU
Library of the House of Commons, June 2017

How should the EU react to Britain’s general election?
Centre for European Reform, June 2017

What’s next after Theresa May’s spectacular own goal?
Centre for European Policy Studies, June 2017

What now? Options for Brexit: And a cry for help
European Policy Centre, June 2017

There is nothing to back expectations of a softer Brexit
European Council on Foreign Relations, June 2017

Scottish and UK immigration policy after Brexit
Scottish Centre on European Relations, June 2017

Brexit and the future of the Irish border
Bruegel, June 2017

As the Labour Party’s influence grows, it must clarify its Brexit strategy
Open Europe, June 2017

UK election result may lead to a more democratic and accountable Brexit
Chatham House, June 2017

Vers un déclin de l’hégémonie anglo-saxonne?
Fondation Robert Schuman, June 2017

The existential challenges looming for the EU
Centre for Policy Studies, June 2017

EU citizens’ rights after Brexit: The EU’s demands for extra-territorial jurisdiction by the CJEU and reverse discrimination
Policy Exchange, June 2017

The politics of fantasy: Immigration policy in the UK after Brexit
Civitas, June 2017

Zeitplan für den Brexit
Friedrich Naumann Stiftung, June 2017

What does the election result mean for Brexit?
Centre for European Reform, June 2017

Bringing Brexit back to reality
Carnegie Europe, June 2017

The Brexit timetable: Key questions and challenges for the UK and Scotland
Scottish Centre on European Relations, June 2017

May’s humiliation could make Brexit easier
Atlantic Council, June 2017

Britain’s postelection future
Carnegie Europe, June 2017

Everyone loses in UK election
Brookings Institution, June 2017

Is Britain lost?
Carnegie Europe, June 2017

Social Market Foundation: Immigration briefing
Social Market Foundation, June 2017

¿Habrá Brexit?
Barcelona Centre for International Affairs, June 2017

Brexit and the Challenge of Citizenship: British passports for EU citizens living in the UK?
Centre for European Policy Studies, May 2017

Uncertainty in the UK
European Policy Centre, May 2017

Why no deal would be much worse than a bad deal
Centre for European Reform, May 2017

The liberation of Europe
European Council on Foreign Relations, May 2017

Blaupause für die Brexit-Verhandlungen: ein Signal der Geschlossenheit der EU-27
Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, May 2017

UK economic performance post-Brexit
Bruegel, May 2017

Five takeaways from analysing Brexit
Jacques Delors Institute, May 2017

Scotland: What strategy as Brexit talks get under way?
Scottish Centre on European Relations, May 2017

The British and their exceptionalism
Centre for European Reform, May 2017

How much will Brexit cost?
Chatham House, May 2017

Taking back control of trade policy
Institute for Government, May 2017

Pharmaceutical industry at risk from Brexit
Bruegel, May 2017

The European Union is exaggerating in its demands for Brexit
Egmont, May 2017

International arbitration is the way to settle the UK’s Brexit bill
Bruegel, May 2017

Planning for post-Brexit Britain’s place on the global stage
Chatham House, May 2017

Brexit: Now for the hard part
Centre on Foreign Relations, May 2017

Implementing Brexit: Immigration
Institute for Government, May 2017

Striking the right deal: UK–EU migration and the Brexit negotiations
Institute for Public Policy Research, April 2017

A new UK-EU relationship in financial services: A bilateral regulatory partnership
Legatum Institute, April 2017

Brexiting Swiss-style: The best possible UK-EU trade deal
Centre for European Reform, April 2017

Hard Brexit in retreat?
Scottish Centre on European Relations, April 2017

Read this briefing on ‘Start of Brexit negotiations‘ in PDF.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/06/23/start-of-brexit-negotiations-what-think-tanks-are-thinking/

The Brexit negotiations: Issues for the first phase

Written by  Alessandro D’Alfonso, Eva-Maria Poptcheva, James McEldowney and Laura Tilindyte,

The Brexit negotiations: Issues for the first phase

© European Union, 2017 – Source: European Commission, Audiovisual Service / Mauro Bottaro

Negotiations on the arrangements for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union started on 19 June 2017. The European Commission is negotiating on behalf of the EU, on the basis of the European Council’s guidelines and the subsequent mandate from the Council. The European Parliament, for its part, has also laid down key principles and conditions for its approval of a possible UK withdrawal agreement. Three key priorities are set to dominate the first phase of the negotiations (with the future relationship between the EU and the UK left to a second phase). These are: citizens’ rights, settlement of the UK’s financial obligations, and ensuring the Northern Ireland peace process is not jeopardised.

The EU position on citizens’ rights is set out in the Council negotiating directives, accompanied by a Commission working paper listing the essential principles to be safeguarded through the negotiations. These documents aim at securing, post-Brexit, the same level of protection that EU-27 citizens in the UK, and UK citizens in the EU-27, enjoy under EU law prior to the withdrawal date. This includes rights the enjoyment of which will ‘intervene at a later date’ (for example, rights related to old-age pensions) and rights which are ‘in the process of being obtained’ (such as the right to permanent residence). Such rights should be protected ‘for life’, including the right of current and future family members to join (Union) citizens ‘at any point in time’ before and after the withdrawal. The two documents also call for simple administrative procedures to obtain national residence documents, and for the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice to continue for the above matters.

Furthermore, the negotiation documents highlight the equal treatment principle as a condition for the effective exercise of all Union citizenship rights. They stipulate that EU-27 citizens in the UK should be treated equally to UK citizens, and that equal treatment among EU-27 citizens be guaranteed in all matters covered by the with­drawal agreement. Under this principle, EU citizens are granted access to employment on an equal basis with host-country citizens, with no priority for the latter, and without the possibility of the host state introducing quotas for the employment of EU citizens. Moreover, EU social security coordination ensures that EU citizens working in another Member State suffer no disadvantage. To this end, periods spent – and contributions paid – in different Member States are aggregated, pensions can be exported to another Member State, and access equal to that of nationals is granted to social security benefits such as sickness, unemployment, maternity and old-age benefits.

A second challenge in the first phase of the negotiations concerns the financial implications of obligations undertaken by the UK during its EU membership. The EU has presented its negotiating position on how to disentangle UK rights and obligations from those of the other EU Member States, including the method to calculate the related financial settlement. The UK government has not yet detailed its position on the matter. While there are no official figures on the possible amount of the financial settlement, analysts have produced a range of estimates, which differ significantly depending on the assumptions and data used. A number argue that, while the financial settlement is not the most significant economic issue in the UK withdrawal, it has the potential to represent a major difficulty in the negotiations due to its sensitivity.

The negotiation guidelines and mandate also address the possibility of a post-Brexit hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, stating that nothing in the UK withdrawal agreement should undermine the objectives and commitments in the Good Friday Agreement.

Read the complete in-depth analysis on ‘The Brexit negotiations: Issues for the first phase‘ in PDF.

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Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/06/23/the-brexit-negotiations-issues-for-the-first-phase/