Месечни архиви: септември 2017

Value added tax: Administrative cooperation and combating fraud [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Angelos Delivorias (1st edition),

Young Businesswoman Checking Invoice With Magnifying Glass At Desk

© Andrey Popov / Fotolia

This proposal is part of a package of EU legislation that aims to modernise the VAT regime for cross-border B2C e-commerce. This proposed regulation provides the basis for the underlying IT infrastructure and the necessary cooperation by Member States to ensure the success of the extension of the Mini-One-Stop-Shop (MOSS). It contains provisions relating to – among other things – the exchange of information between competent authorities of Member States, and the control of transactions and taxable persons, as well as Member States granting to the Commission access to statistical information contained in their electronic systems. This proposal is accompanied by a proposal for a Council Directive amending Directive 2006/112/EC and Directive 2009/132/EC as regards certain value added tax obligations for supplies of services and distance sales of goods; see our separate briefing on this proposal – 2016/0370(CNS).


Stage: Draft Report

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/09/26/value-added-tax-administrative-cooperation-and-combating-fraud-eu-legislation-in-progress/

A European strategy to enhance the competitiveness of the tourism industry, a key driver for job creation

Written by Vasilis Margaras,

On the occasion of World Tourism Day on 27 September, the European Parliament is organising a high-level conference under the initiative of its President, Antonio Tajani, to promote a European strategy on tourism as a key driver of growth and job creation.

Rolling waves and sunset dining at fmaous Mykonos neighborhood of Little Venice, Mykonos, Greece

Copyright: aetherial / Fotolia

Directly and indirectly, tourism already accounts for some 10 % of GDP and jobs in Europe. Tourism also generates spin-offs in other key sectors, such as retail, agriculture and food, transport, construction, cultural and creative industries, textiles, and shipbuilding. According to the World Tourism and Travel Council, more than 5 million new jobs linked to tourism may be created in the European Union over the next 10 years. Therefore, the prospects of the tourist sector are of vital importance to the EU economy.

The European Parliament is very active in this area, through the work of its Committee on Transport and Tourism, a dedicated Task Force, the Intergroup on Tourism, and other relevant committees. The European Parliament has adopted a number of resolutions calling for specific EU policy actions in the field of tourism.

The European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) has prepared a number of publications in the field of tourism, which will be provided during the conference. The briefing on Major challenges for the tourism industry and policy responses highlights the main issues that affect the sector of tourism and provides a number of recommendations from the European Parliament and other advisory bodies. The tourist industry continues to face a number of challenges and mounting competition, including from emerging non-European destinations, whose share in the global tourist market is gradually increasing. Diversification and upgrading of tourist services is necessary to maintain Europe’s position as a competitive tourist destination. As tourism intertwines with various policy areas, visa policies, protection of consumer rights, transport connectivity and safety are also of considerable importance to the growth of the sector.

One of the issues that requires serious consideration is the impact of tourism on the environment, which is tackled in the publication on Sustainable tourism: the environmental dimension. New business opportunities in the sector are analysed for the Tourism and the sharing economy briefing. Furthermore, the liberalisation of air transport and the development of low-cost carriers has led to lower fares and wider access to air transport, which, in many countries, is a catalyst for tourism development. The EPRS briefing on Low cost air carriers and tourism provides basic information on this particular issue.

No specific EU fund is dedicated to tourism as such. However, a number of EU funds may be harnessed in support of tourism-related activities. The EPRS note on Sources of EU funding for tourism-related activities provides a short overview of the principal potential sources of EU funding for different actors, such as public bodies, companies, SMEs, research organisations, universities, non-governmental organisations, and tourism cluster initiatives. Furthermore, following a recommendation from the European Parliament, 2018 will be dedicated to celebrating European cultural heritage and its role in the continent’s shared history and values. This EU-wide commemoration of our shared heritage may also be used to provide further opportunities for the tourism sector and to boost the number of tourists across the EU.

See more information about the High-Level Conferences in the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/09/26/a-european-strategy-to-enhance-the-competitiveness-of-the-tourism-industry-a-key-driver-for-job-creation/

Technologies for humanitarian aid

Written by Silvia Polidori,

The number of people in need due to humanitarian crises resulting from conflicts, climate change-related events or population growth is on the rise. The crises are becoming more complex and protracted, while, at the same time, technological progress advances at an ever increasing pace worldwide. Does technology offer a means for preventing or mitigating the implications of crises?

STOA high-level expert meeting: ' Technology and humanitarian aid '

STOA high-level expert meeting: ‘ Technology and humanitarian aid ‘

This question was at the centre of a meeting organised by the Science and Technology Assessment (STOA) Panel on 7 September 2017 at the European Parliament in Brussels to kick off and provide input for a study on technologies for humanitarian aid, involving high-level experts in the field. The aim of the study will be to evaluate technological applications for disaster risk reduction and propose new ways of improving aid delivery and needs assessment, as well as of facilitating humanitarian assistance for the most vulnerable, while providing a broad view on the role of technology in this area. Following an analysis of existing technologies and EU policies, the study will provide policy options focused on technologies that can help to reduce disaster risks, and those which can come into play after a disaster. It will take into account the relation between technology applications and humanitarian principles, encouraging cooperation among humanitarian organisations, governments and private sector companies, active in the technological innovation domain related to humanitarian aid. The study will also take into account the potential of innovative finance for humanitarian impact.

Opening the high-level event, STOA Chair Eva Kaili (S&D, Greece), underlined that, if we succeed in proposing the right technological solutions to humanitarian needs, and in teaching everyone involved how to use them properly for their own benefit, we will help protect human beings and empower them in the face of crisis situations.

Enrique Guerrero Salom (S&D, Spain), member of the Parliament’s Committee on Development (DEVE)


Enrique Guerrero Salom (S&D, Spain), member of the Parliament’s Committee on Development (DEVE), (who proposed the study), chaired the event and moderated the debate. He noted that instruments are needed urgently to improve humanitarian aid, not least because there are around 65 million displaced people worldwide.

Several high-level experts in the field from various European and international governmental and non-governmental institutions and organisations (NGOs) were invited to present their views, followed by an open discussion with questions from the audience.

Although the European Union is the world’s biggest donor of humanitarian aid, Jean-Louis De Brouwer, Director of the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) at the European Commission, noted that, before proposing technologies for humanitarian aid, a better understanding of the potential beneficiaries’ needs is necessary. Outlining the innovative technology applications available for disaster risk reduction and aid delivery, De Brouwer presented the current policy framework.

In future, humanitarian disaster response is likely to benefit from new technologies, innovation and implementation of research in the field. Andrew Harper, Director of the Division of Programme Support & Management at the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), noted that it is crucial that industry and governments work together in this respect, to enable access to technological solutions aimed at supporting vulnerable populations. Cyprien Fabre of the OECD stressed that this includes encouraging technology providers to give priority to humanitarian aid principles. In developing countries, nearly 70 % of the population have a mobile phone: for refugees, access to the internet can provide crucial contact with their family during difficult times. Innovative technological solutions, such as a smartphone game application for refugees to learn languages, presented by Alf Inge Wang, Professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), can help with integration, giving children a brighter future by ensuring access to education during ‘refugee-life’. However, the remaining 30 % should also be taken into account. Equally, a project developed by Emi Kiyota, of the Ibasho NGO, looks at maximising the potential of elderly persons who are often treated as a cost for society, while their traditional knowledge is often a resource in difficult times, when technology may not be available or adapted to specific circumstances. Imogen Sudbery of the International Rescue Committee highlighted that access to money transfer or to cash are also issues which make a great difference to the lives of, sometimes long-term, refugee populations. Nevertheless, there is often an imbalance between the available technology and human capacity to use it – education and skills training are equally important considerations.



Cooperation between governments, humanitarian organisations, and technology companies can help to improve disaster prediction and prevention, and the reactiveness to crises in the world community. A low cost technological solution to disaster preparedness includes investment in alert systems, such as alarms, which, when used efficiently, can save lives and mitigate humanitarian need by allowing for timely intervention. Agostino Miozzo, of Emergency, an NGO, spoke passionately about the role of technology in disaster management, noting that political commitment to fully exploit existing technologies is of the essence to ensure that the relevant institutions act promptly in dangerous situations. In this respect, during the debate the speakers agreed that connectivity is fundamental for all actors involved in humanitarian crises. However, while technologies can indeed help vulnerable people, above all, human action remains essential. Political will and decision-making needs to guarantee that technology serves people and is used effectively by them, especially for the benefit of those most vulnerable.

The high-level experts concluded that priority technologies for humanitarian aid are those which will improve disaster prediction and prevention, speed reactiveness, increase technological skills, and foster connectivity and cooperation. Priority should be given to human empowerment to use the available technologies, and action guided by humanitarian principles.

The study

STOA plans to publish the related study on technology for humanitarian aid in 2018. The study will include policy options for the legislator. The publication of the study will be announced on the EPRS blog in due time.

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Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/09/25/technologies-for-humanitarian-aid/

Celebrating the European Day of Languages

Written by Ivana Katsarova,

OLA (Hello Greeting in Portuguese) word cloud in different languages of the world, background concept

© dizain / Fotolia

Following the success of the European Year of Languages (2001), the Council of Europe designated 26 September as the European Day of Languages. Since then, annual celebrations of this day have been held to promote the rich linguistic and cultural diversity of Europe. The European Parliament has consistently acted to support endangered languages and linguistic diversity in the EU, calling on the EU and the Member States to commit resources to their protection and promotion.

Global language diversity

Between 6 000 and 7 000 languages are spoken in the world today. Giving a precise figure is impossible, since the borderline between a language and a dialect is not well defined. Strikingly, 97 % of the world’s population speak about 4 % of the world’s languages, while only about 3 % speak the roughly 96 % of languages remaining. Half of the world’s 7.5 billion inhabitants share just 13 native languages. Slightly over 3 % of the world’s languages – 255 – are indigenous to Europe. The highest number of living languages – 2 165 – are found in Asia.

The critical threshold for the survival of a language is estimated at 300 000 speakers. According to forecasts, some 90 % of all languages may be replaced by dominant languages by the end of the 21st century. The latest edition of the Unesco Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger (2010) reveals that 40 % of languages spoken in the world are endangered. Worryingly, at least 2 000 of the world’s endangered languages have fewer than 1 000 speakers, and 4 % have disappeared in the past 70 years.

Linguistic diversity in the EU

The EU has 24 official languages, which are listed in Article 55(1) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU). Respect for linguistic diversity is enshrined in Article 3(3) TEU and Article 22 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. Mirroring population figures, the most widely spoken mother tongue in the EU is German (16 %), followed by Italian and English (13 % each), French (12 %), then Spanish and Polish (8 % each). According to a 2013 study, there are 60 regional or minority languages within the EU, spoken by between 40 and 50 million people. Among them, Catalan is the most widely used, with over 10 million speakers, mainly in the Spanish region of Catalonia, but also in the French Pyrenees and the Italian region of Sardinia.

Europeans’ linguistic competences

A 2012 Eurobarometer survey shows that the majority of Europeans (54 %) are able to hold a conversation in at least one additional language, a quarter (25 %) are able to speak at least two additional languages and one in ten (10 %) are conversant in at least three. The five most widely spoken foreign languages remain English (38 %), French (12 %), and German (11 %), followed by Spanish (7 %) and Russian (5 %). Two thirds of Europeans (67 %) find that English is the most useful foreign language, followed by German (17 %), French (16 %), Spanish (14 %) and Chinese (6 %). The majority of Europeans do not describe themselves as active learners of languages. Around a quarter (23 %) have never learnt a second language, while over four out of ten (44 %) have not learnt a language recently and do not intend to start.

Multilingualism in the European Parliament

The European Parliament differs from the other EU institutions in its obligation to ensure the highest possible degree of multilingualism. In the European assembly, all parliamentary documents are published in all of the EU’s official languages, which are considered equally important. The right of each Member of the European Parliament to read and write parliamentary documents, follow debates and speak in his or her own official language is expressly recognised in the Parliament’s Rules of Procedure. The European Parliament also has an Intergroup focused on protecting traditional minorities and national communities and languages.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/09/25/celebrating-the-european-day-of-languages/

North Korea [What Think Tanks are thinking]

Written by Marcin Grajewski,

North Korea flag with grunge metal texture

© Onur / Fotolia

North Korea has stepped up its nuclear plans with the underground detonation of a hydrogen bomb and tests of its first suspected Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs), moves perceived as a major threat to global security. Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly on 19 September, U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea if the United States is forced to defend itself or its allies against that country. The isolated communist régime of Kim Jong-un has continued its nuclear programme despite repeated rounds of sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council and diplomatic efforts to diffuse the conflict.

This note offers links to recent commentaries and reports published by major international think tanks and other organisations on the North Korea crisis.

Time for China to step up in North Korea crisis
Chatham House, September 2017

North Korea: Sanctions and marketization from below
Bruegel, September 2017

North Korea’s nuclear defiance of Trump’s “fire and fury”
Council on Foreign Relations, September 2017

Time to prepare for the worst in North Korea
Center for Strategic and International Studies, September 2017

Destabilizing Northeast Asia: The real impact of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs
Center for Strategic and International Studies, September 2017

Growth despite sanctions? Revisiting the effect of North Korea sanctions
Korea Institute for International Economic Policy, September 2017

A Strategy for dealing with North Korea
Atlantic Council, September 2017

Pyongyang’s ambitions have nothing to do with Kyiv and everything to do with Moscow
Atlantic Council, September 2017

Can the world live with North Korea’s bomb?
Centre for European Reform, September 2017

Beyond strategic patience with North Korea: What comes next?
Rand Corporation, September 2017

Russia and the North Korean nuclear challenge
Council on Foreign Relations, September 2017

Is it legal for President Trump to order an attack on North Korea?
Peterson Institute for International Economics, September 2017

Despite H-bomb test, negotiate with North Korea, but from a position of strength
Brookings Institution, September 2017

Decision time: North Korea’s nuclear and missile threat and U.S. policy
Brookings Institution, September 2017

North Korea’s military capabilities
Council on Foreign Relations, September 2017

Is it time for hard power in North Korea?
Carnegie Europe, September 2017

North Korea’s nuclear-armed missiles: Options for the US and its allies in the Asia-Pacific
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, September 2017

U.S. facing unwelcome facts about North Korea nukes
Heritage Foundation, September 2017

North Korea’s nuclear threat Is America’s (not the world’s) problem
Cato Institute, September 2017

How North Korea is ensuring a nuclear arms race in Asia
Hoover Institution, September 2017

États-Unis- Corée du Nord: Il n’y a pas de solution militaire
Institut des relations internationales et stratégiques, September 2017

The march of folly jointly led by Kim Jong-Un And Donald Trump
Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, September 2017

Europe’s options on the side-lines of the North Korea crisis
German Marshall Fund, August 2017

In North Korea standoff, what does Kim Jong-un really want?
Chatham House, August 2017

The secret to North Korea’s ICBM success
International Institute for Strategic Studies, August 2017

Nuclear North Korea: Perpetuating the fiction
European Council on Foreign Relations, August 2017

How worried should we be about a nuclear war with North Korea?
Chatham House, August 2017

North Korea tests Donald Trump
Atlantic Council, August 2017

Understanding North Korea
Rand Corporation, August 2017

How did North Korea get its nuclear capabilities so far so fast?
Rand Corporation, August 2017

Regime change in North Korea: Be careful what you wish for
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, August 2017

Will North Korea and the United States go to war?
Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, August 2017

Can ballistic missile defense shield Guam from North Korea?
Council on Foreign Relations, July 2017

The China–North Korea relationship
Council on Foreign Relations, July 2017

North Korea missile test exposes how Trump has overplayed his hand
Chatham House, July 2017

EU-South Korea security relations: The current state of play
Egmont, May 2017

Korean peninsula: The plot thickens
European Council on Foreign Relations, May 2017

¿Cómo evitar un conflicto militar en la península de Corea?
Real Instituto Elcano, May 2017

China and North Korea: A test case for China’s future international role
European Council on Foreign Relations, March 2017

Read this briefing on ‘North Korea‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/09/22/north-korea-what-think-tanks-are-thinking/

Common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB) [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Gustaf Gimdal and Angelos Delivorias (2nd edition),

corporate tax, 3D rendering, triple flags

© Argus / Fotolia

The European Commission has decided to re-launch the common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB) project in a two-step approach, with the publication on 25 October 2016 of two new interconnected proposals: on a common corporate tax base (CCTB), and on a common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB). The 2011 CCCTB proposal (COM(2011) 121) was withdrawn on the same day.

Building on the 2016 CCTB proposal, the 2016 CCCTB proposal introduces the consolidation aspect of this double initiative. Companies operating across borders in the EU would no longer have to deal with 28 different sets of national rules when calculating their taxable profits. Consolidation means that there would be a ‘one-stop-shop’ – the principal tax authority – where one of the companies of a group, that is, the principal taxpayer, would file a tax return. To distribute the tax base among Member States concerned, a formulary apportionment system is introduced.

Interactive PDF

Common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB)

Stage: National Parliaments opinion

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/09/22/common-consolidated-corporate-tax-base-ccctb-eu-legislation-in-progress/

EU response to the Caribbean hurricanes

Written by Christiaan van Lierop and Eric Pichon,

The scenes of devastation caused by recent hurricanes in the Caribbean are a stark reminder of the destructive force of nature. As residents struggle to rebuild their lives following the passage of the latest storms, attention turns to the relief efforts. The EU can help through emergency humanitarian assistance and a variety of funding mechanisms, depending on the status of the territories concerned and their relationship with the EU.

EU Civil Protection Mechanism

EU response to Caribbean hurricanes

© European Union, 2017. Image source: NASA; map by Eulalia Claros, EPRS

Created in 2001, the EU Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM) is tasked with coordinating the action of EU Member States and partner countries (former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia, and Turkey) following a man-made disaster or natural catastrophe. Its scope of intervention is not limited to its members but has a worldwide reach, thus all territories in the region affected by the recent hurricanes, including third countries, may apply for support under this mechanism. The UCPM intervenes at the request of the affected countries: since its creation in 2001, it has responded to over 200 requests.

UCPM action is spearheaded by the Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC). The ERCC is managed by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) and operates 24 hours a day. Once a request for intervention has been approved, the ERCC evaluates the needs and ensures that there is no overlap or gap in the relief operations of UCPM members. Following the devastation wrought by recent hurricanes in the Caribbean, UCPM teams are preparing to intervene under the coordination of the ECHO regional office in Managua (Nicaragua), while a European Commission humanitarian team is already present on the ground in Haiti. To ensure a quick response, some EU countries (but not all UCPM members) have pooled response teams under the European Emergency Response Capacity.

To carry out its tasks, the ERCC uses powerful monitoring tools, which are developed largely in close cooperation with the Commission’s Joint Research Centre. It can also trigger specific mapping of the affected zones, through satellite data provided by Copernicus, the EU earth observation programme. To take just one example, the EU recently provided the USA with satellite images of the areas affected by hurricane Harvey. The ERCC also publishes daily maps and daily flashes for the general public.

The EU also provides emergency funding to support the delivery of aid, with over €2 million allocated to the Caribbean as of 12 September.

EU Solidarity Fund

Providing for emergency and recovery operations in areas affected by a major natural disaster, the EU Solidarity Fund is open to Member States and candidate countries. A recent witness to the brute force of Hurricane Irma, the French territory of Saint Martin, one of the EU’s nine outermost regions and thus an integral part of the EU, is eligible for support under this mechanism. To receive help, the Member State involved (in this case, France) must apply to the European Commission for assistance within 12 weeks of the first damage. With a maximum annual allocation of €500 million, the EUSF may be used to fund measures such as providing temporary accommodation, supporting rescue services or cleaning up disaster areas. In principle, it is limited to non-insurable damage and does not therefore compensate for damage to private property. The EUSF has intervened in over 75 disasters to date, allocating a total of €5 billion to help alleviate the impact of natural disasters, including the 2007 hurricanes in Réunion and Martinique, both of which are outermost regions.

In the case of outermost regions, a special lower threshold is applied, such that the damage caused exceeds 1 % of a region’s GDP (rather than 1.5 % in other regions), to take account of their specific structural social and economic situation. In addition, following the adoption of an amendment to the EUSF Regulation in July 2017, Member States affected by a natural disaster may now draw on a special EU financing mechanism, to help supplement EU Solidarity Fund assistance. This allows the application of an extraordinary EU co-financing rate of 95 % under a cohesion policy programme in an affected region. Accordingly, programmes in outermost regions such as Saint Martin, which have an 85 % co-financing rate, will now be eligible for an additional 10 % support in the event of a major disaster. At the time of writing, Saint Martin had not yet applied for assistance under the EUSF.

In addition to this emergency assistance, it is also worth highlighting that several EU-funded programmes are already active in the region and improving the lives of local people. The ERDF-ESG Guadeloupe et Saint Martin operational programme, for instance, which has a total budget of €273 million, includes an investment priority on disaster management, providing funding for activities such as strengthening buildings against the risk of earthquakes. The Interreg V Saint Martin – Sint Maarten cooperation programme, focuses, among other things, on preventing the risk of flooding through better management and control of rainwater, while the priorities of the Interreg V Caribbean cooperation programme include increasing natural hazard response capacity by putting in place shared risk management systems. Saint Martin may also be able to receive support from the €587 million available to France under the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD), an EU fund that provides material assistance such as food, clothing and essential goods for deprived groups.

Support for overseas countries and territories

As overseas countries and territories (OCTs), the British territories of Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, the Dutch territory of Sint Maarten and the French territory of Saint Barthélemy have a special relationship with the European Union, governed by a Council decision on the association of the overseas countries and territories with the European Union. This text provides that humanitarian and emergency aid may be granted to OCTs faced with serious economic and social difficulties of an exceptional nature resulting from natural or man-made disasters. Under the rules, aid is financed from the general budget of the Union, with a non-allocated reserve of €21.5 million set aside to finance humanitarian and emergency assistance for the OCTs.

Although formally classified as an OCT, Sint Maarten, which shares an island with the French outermost region of Saint Martin, may also receive additional assistance. At Parliament’s 13 September plenary session, President Tajani announced that he had submitted a request to Commission President Juncker to ask that Sint Maarten be allowed to benefit from EU funding on similar terms to its northern neighbour, Saint Martin.

Assessing EU response measures

The UCPM and the ERCC were recently examined by the European Court of Auditors, which found them to be ‘good examples of value added by European cooperation’. On the EUSF, a 2015 Commission report noted that while applicants had a better understanding of the application process, money still reached the regions affected too late, emphasising the time-consuming procedure for the adoption of the mobilisation decision and the corresponding amending budget. Similar criticisms were raised in Parliament’s 2016 report on the EUSF (rapporteur: Salvatore Cicu, EPP, Italy), which stressed that beneficiaries still faced problems owing to the length of the process involved.

Read this ‘At a glance’ publication on ‘EU response to the Caribbean hurricanes‘ in PDF on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/09/21/eu-response-to-the-caribbean-hurricanes/

Achieving a sovereign and trustworthy ICT industry in the EU

Written by Zsolt G. Pataki

Achieving a sovereign and trustworthy ICT industry in the EUAn increasing number of European citizens, enterprises and public bodies depend on ICT tools (both hardware and software) to run their critical processes, while the internet is becoming a crucial platform in the citizens’ daily lives in the European Union (EU). However, the core of critical services and the protection of key assets and critical infrastructures are mainly based on technologies developed by non-EU companies. Some of these companies are closely linked to foreign governments, whose interests may differ from those of the EU, and who do not always follow European standards and certifications.

In addition, the EU is facing a growing number of cyber threats that can hinder the potential of digital technologies. The construction of the digital single market may be affected by a loss of confidence in digital services and products on the part of both citizens and companies. Recent ransomware attacks, such as WannaCry and Petya, with limited real effect but high mass-media coverage, are good examples of the potential damage of cyber threats. The EU’s considerable dependence on non-EU providers represents another serious challenge to reinforcing EU cyber-resilience. Although this dependence affects the whole ICT ecosystem, it is particularly relevant in the cybersecurity industry.


Workshop hashtag: #EU4ICT


The objective of the STOA (Science and Technology Options Assessment) project on Establishing a sovereign and trustworthy ICT industry in the EU is to analyse how the EU could achieve an adequate level of cyber-resilience. The cross-border character of today’s cyber threats demands a strong coordinated effort among Member States, however cyber threat strategies remain a national competence, with each Member State defining its own cybersecurity strategy according to its priorities. This situation seriously challenges EU coordination and results in regulatory fragmentation.

STOA is organising a workshop on 27 September 2017 in the context of this project. The event will be chaired and moderated by Jan Philipp Albrecht, (Greens, Germany) a STOA Panel member, who proposed the project, along with Paul Rübig, (EPP, Austria), First STOA Vice-Chair. Key expert speakers (see programme) will share their views on the challenges that Europe faces in developing a cyber-resilient ICT industry, the risks of depending on non-EU providers, as well as the opportunities for European industry to compete in the vibrant and dynamic cybersecurity market. The workshop will also focus on describing how digital service providers are challenging data privacy and the remedies that the EU can implement to ensure data reciprocity.

Interested? Register for the workshop and join the debate.

And to keep up to date with this project and other STOA activities, follow our website, the EPRS blog, Twitter and Think Tank pages.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/09/20/achieving-a-sovereign-and-trustworthy-ict-industry-in-the-eu/

Ask EP – What is the EU doing to reduce food waste?

Container of domestic food waste, ready to be collected by the recycling truck

© Gary Perkin / Fotolia

In the EU, food waste is estimated at some 88 million tonnes in a single year, which equates to 173 kilograms per person. The total amount of food produced in the EU in 2011 was around 865 kg/person. This means that we are wasting 20 % of the total food produced. In this context, citizens turn to the European Parliament to request information on what the EU is doing to reduce food waste, as well as calling for European legislation to end food waste in every country in Europe, including several petitions introduced on this matter.

Tackling food waste

The European Parliament has repeatedly called for EU and national measures to improve the efficiency of the food supply and consumption chains, sector by sector and to tackle food wastage as a matter of urgency. In its resolution of 19 January 2012 on ‘how to avoid food wastage: strategies for a more efficient food chain in the EU’, the Parliament calls on the Commission to create specific food waste prevention targets for Member States, as part of the waste prevention targets to be reached by 2014 and as recommended by the 2008 Waste Framework Directive. It also urges the Council and the Commission to designate 2014 the European Year against Food Waste, ‘as a key information and awareness-raising initiative for European citizens and to focus national governments’ attention on the important topic, with a view to allocating sufficient funds to tackle the challenges of the near future’.

On 2 December 2015, the European Commission launched an EU action plan for the Circular Economy setting food waste as one of the priority areas of the plan. The plan aims to support the circular economy through the whole value chain, from production to consumption by, inter alia, developing a common EU methodology to measure food waste, defining relevant indicators and taking measures to clarify EU legislation relating to food.

In line with the requirements set out in the action plan, the Commission established the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste on 1 August 2016, with the aim of supporting all players in identifying and taking actions needed to meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SGD) commitment of 2015 to ‘halve per capita food waste at retail and consumer level by 2030, and reduce food losses all along the production and supply chains’.

The Commission’s report on the implementation of the Circular Economy Action Plan, presented in January 2017 to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions lists some of the actions delivered by the Commission since the launch of the plan in December 2015.

Additional measures to be undertaken in 2017, as part of the Circular economy action plan include a strategy for plastics in the circular economy, an assessment of options for the improved interface between chemicals, products and waste legislation, a legislative proposal on water reuse and a monitoring framework on circular economy.

Despite these efforts, the European Court of Auditors in its Special Report No 34/2016 on combating food waste: an opportunity for the EU to improve the resource-efficiency of the food supply chain, concludes ‘that action to date has not been sufficient and that the EU strategy on food waste has to be strengthened and better coordinated’. It also calls on the Commission to ‘explore ways of using existing policies to better fight food waste and loss’. Further information on the report is available in the Court of Auditor’s press release of 17 January 2017.

In the EP resolution of 16 May 2017 on initiative on resource efficiency: reducing food waste, and improving food safety, MEPs stress once more the urgent need to reduce food waste at the levels fixed by the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, as ‘less food waste would mean more efficient land use, better water resource management, and positive consequences for the whole agricultural sector worldwide’, bringing also, among other things, ‘environmental benefits and advantages in social and economic terms, and calls for a series of concrete measures’ For further details, see also the EP press release of 16 May 2017.

Further information

Several parliamentary written questions to the European Commission, e.g.: E-002658/2016, E-003718/2016, E-004146/2016, E-004187/2016, E-004425/2016 and E-004537/2016, tackle specific aspects of food waste.

Parliament’s Think Tank has produced a series of publications on the situation concerning food waste in Europe and the various measures taken at EU and Member States level to address the issue. The European Parliament infographic of 15 May 2017 highlights the scale of the problem.

See also the Commission’s website, which includes a set of good practices in food waste prevention and reduction, as well as a range of communications materials.

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/2017/09/20/ask-ep-what-is-the-eu-doing-to-reduce-food-waste/

How the Budget is spent: Youth Employment Initiative

Written by Ana Claudia Alfieri,

trainers with young apprentices

© industrieblick / Fotolia

In the wake of the economic and financial crisis, young people became one of the age groups most at risk of social exclusion. The unemployment rate among young people aged 15-24 years was 24.0 % in the EU in February 2013, with peaks of 60.0 % in Greece, 56.2 % in Spain, 49.8 % in Croatia, 44.1 % in Italy and 40.7 % in Portugal.

The Union addressed this situation by means of the Youth Guarantee (YG), a political commitment to ensure that all young people under the age of 25 years receive a good-quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within a period of four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education.

The Youth Employment Initiative (YEI), with an initial financial envelope of €3.2 billion for 2014-2015, is the main EU funding programme of this political commitment. Its objective is the fight against youth unemployment in the worst-affected EU regions by supporting young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs) in regions with a youth unemployment rate above 25 %.

The YEI has been in place for three years, during which the average rate of youth unemployment in the EU fell to 16.9 % and the NEET rate from 13.2 % in 2012 to 11.5 % in 2016. It has certainly contributed to this improvement, both supporting young people individually, but also helping structural reforms, in more than 120 regions in 20 Member States. However, as the situation is still worrying in many regions of the EU, the programme has been extended up to 2020 and its financial envelope has been raised, with an additional €1.2 billion for 2017-2020.

Read the complete briefing on ‘Youth Employment Initiative‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

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Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/09/18/how-the-budget-is-spent-youth-employment-initiative/