Месечни архиви: ноември 2017

COP 23 climate change conference: Outcomes

Written by Gregor Erbach,

This year’s COP 23 climate change conference was held from 6 to 17 November in Bonn, Germany, under the presidency of Fiji. The conference made progress on implementing the Paris Agreement, and agreed on a work plan for 2018. It also gave a strong signal that countries remain committed to the UN climate process, despite the United States’ intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.


COP23 Bonn 2017

© Fijian Presidency of COP23

In November 2017, two years after the conclusion of the Paris Agreement, Fiji held the presidency of the 23rd conference of the parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and was the first small-island developing state to do so. With the agreement’s recent ratification by Nicaragua and Syria, all UN members have now signed and/or ratified it. However, the United States (the world’s second-largest carbon emitter) intends to withdraw from the agreement, although not from the convention itself, in 2020.

Alongside the formal negotiating session, the COP featured numerous side events with the participation of regions, industry and civil society. A coalition of US regions and cities showed a strong presence, and submitted the America’s Pledge report on non-federal climate action in the United States.

More than 20 nations and subnational entities joined the Powering Past Coal Alliance, a global UK and Canada initiative to promote a transition from unabated coal-fired electricity generation to cleaner alternatives.


The conference advanced in defining the Paris Agreement rulebook. More will have to be done throughout 2018 to prepare its draft before it is finalised and adopted at COP 24 in Katowice, Poland in December. As decided by COP 21 in Paris, a facilitative dialogue in 2018 will review current efforts, strengthen global ambition and inform the next round of climate pledges, due in 2020. Called the ‘Talanoa dialogue’ in reference to a traditional Fijian approach to discussions, it aims at an inclusive, participatory and transparent process, with a first phase including non-state actors, and a final political phase taking place during COP 24.

COP 23 decided that the existing Adaptation Fund will serve the Paris Agreement, agreed on the functioning of the local communities and indigenous peoples’ platform, set up a new gender action plan, and agreed to work on agriculture issues. Discussions on pre-2020 ambition resulted in a plan to hold two stocktaking exercises on pre-2020 implementation and ambition in 2018 and 2019, and make two climate-finance assess­ments. Fiji launched the Ocean Pathway strategy, to address the link between the oceans and climate change.

Role of the EU and the European Parliament

A delegation led by Environment Committee Chair, Adina-Ioana Vălean, represented the European Parliament at the conference, and was backed by a plenary resolution emphasising the need for ambitious climate action.

During the COP, the EU and California agreed to cooperate on emissions trading and zero-carbon transport, while the EU and China agreed to cooperate on carbon markets. The EU intends to ratify the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol for pre-2020 climate action by developed countries by the end of 2017.

Next steps

On 12 December 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron is due to host the One Planet climate summit in Paris. Ahead of COP 24, a negotiating meeting will take place in April/May 2018 and the Talanoa dialogue will continue throughout the year. In April 2018, the EU, with Canada and China, will host the second Ministerial on Climate Action in Brussels. The Global climate action summit will take place in San Francisco in September 2018, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change plans to present its report on the 1.5°C target in October.

Read this At a glance on ‘COP 23 climate change conference: Outcomes‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/11/30/cop-23-climate-change-conference-outcomes/

European Tourism Day

Written by Vasileios Margaras,

Addressing ‘the future of EU tourism’, the European Commission organised the 2017 edition of the European Tourism Day on 28 November in Brussels. The conference looked into today’s issues and challenges for tomorrow’s tourism in the EU, such as access to finance under the next EU Multi-Annual Financial Framework, the tourism value chain and its implications on consumers, businesses and local communities. Members of the European Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee took part in the discussions during the day.

Recognising the importance of tourism, Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament, earlier held a high-level conference on opportunities and challenges in the tourism sector, on 27 September. The conference addressed themes such as how to attract more investment, upgrade skills, and innovation and the digital economy in tourism, as well as promoting Europe as the number one tourist destination.

European Tourism Day on 28 November in Brussels

The major challenges for the tourism industry and policy responses highlighted in the above-mentioned conferences are significant to the health of the EU economy, as tourism represents the third-largest economic activity in the EU. Tourism is therefore a major source of economic growth, regional development and employment. Nonetheless, the industry faces a number of challenges and mounting competition, including from emerging non-European destinations, whose share in the global tourist market is gradually increasing. Although there is no specific EU fund dedicated to tourism as such, a number of EU sources of funding for tourism-related activities may help to boost its prospects and address the challenges.

As tourism is quite a competitive industry, European tourism providers need to engage in upgrading the quality of their products and services by improving and enriching them, or inventing new ones, to maintain their share of the global market. They also have to address the needs of new niche markets and target groups. Furthermore, the growing digitalisation of the tourism industry brings new opportunities but also poses new challenges in terms of regulation, taxation, and supervision of the legally defined standards for service provision.

Sustainability is another main issue for the sector. As tourism includes transport to the destinations concerned, it leads to an increase in CO₂ emissions. Mass tourism may also lead to deterioration of natural resources, destruction of biodiversity, or noise pollution. At the local/regional level, various challenges emerge in terms of strategic planning and management of the side-effects of tourism, such as ensuring waste collection, dealing with the negative effects of mass tourism, and protecting areas of natural beauty.

Because of its transversal nature, various policies impact upon tourism, including transport, environment, consumer protection and regional development policy. These measures are not always easy to coordinate. Tourism is also susceptible to other factors, such as terrorist attacks and political instability. Furthermore, incoherent and stringent visa policies constitute a further obstacle to tourism development.

The Parliament is following developments in the tourist sector with a keen interest. In a 2011 resolution, it made suggestions to achieve a competitive modern and sustainable tourism sector. In its 2015 resolution, the Parliament welcomed the 2014 European Commission strategy and called for the adoption of a number of additional initiatives to ensure that its implementation in real terms.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/11/30/european-tourism-day/

What is the EU doing to combat cybercrime?

Citizens write to the European Parliament to find out what the EU is doing to combat cybercrime.

To tackle cybercrime, the EU has implemented legislation and supports cooperation as part of the 2013 EU Cybersecurity Strategy.

Close-up view on conceptual keyboard - Cybercrime (red key)

Copyright: ArtemSam / Fotolia

Given the increase in the frequency and severity of cybercrime, the European Parliament (EP) adopted a non-legislative resolution on the fight against cybercrime, on 3 October 2017. Members of the European Parliament, among other things, ‘condemn any system interference undertaken or directed by a foreign nation or its agents to disrupt the democratic process of another country’. Furthermore, the European Parliament stresses that ‘awareness about the risks posed by cybercrime has increased, but precautionary measures taken by individual users, public institutions and businesses, remain wholly inadequate, primarily due to lack of knowledge and resources’.

The key issues highlighted in the resolution are prevention, increasing the responsibility of service providers, enhanced police and judicial cooperation and close cooperation between law enforcement authorities. The EP press release of 3 October 2017 has more information on the matter.

EU bodies to combat cybercrime

On 13 September 2017, in his annual State of the Union Address, President Jean-Claude Juncker stated: ‘… the Commission is proposing new tools, including a European Cybersecurity Agency, to help defend us against such attacks’. On 19 September 2017, the Commission announced further actions to tackle cybercrime, including a new European certification scheme aiming at ensuring that products and services in the digital world are safe to use.

The European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) supports exchange of good practices between EU Member States. In 2013, Europol set up the European Crime Centre (EC3) to strengthen the law enforcement response to cybercrime in the EU. It acts as the focal point in the fight against cybercrime in the Union, pooling European cybercrime expertise in support of Member States’ cybercrime investigations.

Other measures

Among steps taken to combat cybercrime at the international level is the Global Alliance against Child Sexual Abuse Online: The alliance is a joint initiative by the EU and the United States, gathering 54 countries from around the world to fight child sexual abuse together.

A number of parliamentary questions have been put to the Commission on the topic of cybercrime, for example on international cooperation in the field of cybercrime or on protecting the EU against cybercrime. In its answer to a parliamentary question on cybercrime victims, the European Commission underlines that, to improve international cooperation, it ‘strongly supports the Council of Europe Budapest Convention on Cybercrime as well as public-private partnerships and cooperation mechanisms through dedicated projects’.

Further information

The European Parliament’s Think Tank website contains a number of publications on cybercrime. The European Parliament legislative train application provides further information on removing legal obstacles to criminal investigations on cybercrime.

Fact sheets are available on EU cybersecurity initiatives and how the Commission is scaling up its response to cyber-attacks, published by the European Commission. Finally, to highlight the scale of the growing problem, Europol issued the 2017 Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment (IOCTA): IOCTA 2017 report.

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/2017/11/30/what-is-the-eu-doing-to-combat-cybercrime/

Article 17 Dialogue – Book Presentation – Jihad and Death – the Global Appeal of ‘Islamic State’

Written by Beatrix Immenkamp,

Book presentation ' Jihad and Death '.On 21 November 2017, the European Parliament library hosted a presentation by renowned political scientist Professor Olivier Roy, Joint Chair of the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies at the European University Institute in Florence, of his most recent book, ‘Jihad and Death – the Global Appeal of Islamic State’. Taking place within the framework of the European Parliament’s implementation of Article 17 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the event was hosted by Mairead McGuinness, Vice President responsible for the Article 17 dialogue with churches, religions and philosophical organisations. Dr Beatrix Immenkamp, policy analyst at the European Parliamentary Research Service, acted as discussant.

Book presentation ' Jihad and Death '.

Mairead McGuinness, Vice President of the European Parliament

In her welcome speech, Mairead McGuinness noted that the European Parliament regularly hosts discussions of important books as part of the Article 17 dialogue with churches, religions and philosophical organisations. She added that ‘Jihad and Death’ was not a light topic for a lunchtime discussion, but certainly an important one. Quoting a description of the book as ‘everything you need to know about why ‘Islamic State’ attracts new followers’, Mairead McGuinness welcomed the opportunity to hear about the issues raised by the book. She noted that the ‘Islamic State’ organisation was having an impact in Europe, not least because of the fear raised by terrorist attacks in many Member States.

Olivier Roy underlined the main focus of his book on why young people from Europe had joined the ‘Islamic State’ organisation and had committed terrorist attacks in its name. He explained that the book was based on empirical data going back 22 years, analysing the profiles of 150 young men and women who had been involved in terrorist attacks in France and Belgium since 1995, or who had joined the organisation known as ‘Islamic State’ as foreign fighters. Olivier Roy reported on some key findings of his research into the profiles of these 150 radicals. He noted that throughout the past 22 years, the great majority (60-65 %) were second-generation Muslim migrants, and an ‘astonishing’ 25 % were converts to Islam. Most were radicalised in a small group with tight personal connections, all of the same generation and often from the same family (brothers). According to Olivier Roy’s findings, prison is the most common place for radicalisation to take place, as was the case for 50 % of the French-speaking Belgian radicals. Other main locations for radicalisation included sports clubs, followed by mosques.

Book presentation ' Jihad and Death '.

Professor Olivier Roy

Olivier Roy noted that he was struck by jihadi radicals’ fascination with death, which set them apart from earlier terrorist movements. He called it a ‘systematic’ association with death, with terrorists seeking their own death, rather than escape. Olivier Roy reported that he had found no evidence that radicals were activists fighting for a political cause. Instead, he had found nihilists for whom life had no meaning, who rejected their parents’ generation, showed no respect for their cultural heritage, and no commitment to their children. Many had chaotic personal lives, often coming from dysfunctional families.

According to Olivier Roy‘s findings, young radicals are living at the margins of society of the Muslim population in Europe. The large majority of Muslims reject them and their actions.

In Olivier Roy‘s view, policy-makers were making a big mistake in believing that jihadi radicalisation was the result of religious radicalisation. Among the radicals he had studied, he had found no history of continuous religious radicalisation; ‘no “born-again” Salafis turning into radicals’. On the contrary, his research had shown that religious radicalisation took place at the same time or even after the violent radicalisation process. Olivier Roy concluded that policy-makers were mistaken in believing that they could manage terrorism by managing Salafism, which he described as the predominant view today.

Olivier Roy concluded that jihadi radicalism was not sustainable, because it had no mass support or appeal. In his view, radicals were fighting for a ‘virtual Muslim community’ that did not exist. Even though jihad had replaced other ideologies as the ideology that fascinated disenfranchised youth, it had no future, as proven by the fall of the organisation known as the ‘Islamic State’.

Beatrix Immenkamp commented on Professor Roy’s view that so-called ISIS was no more threatening to Europe than other millenarian or terrorist organisations that preceded it, and that had since disappeared, noting that this view seemed reassuring. However, she pointed out that the argument over the root causes of Islamic radicalisation had not been settled. While some experts saw intolerant aspects of Islam, especially the Salafi ideology, as the cause of radicalisation, others took the view that social injustice and the perceived lack of a future, or the opportunity to build one, were at the heart of the violent radicalisation process. Beatrix Immenkamp cited a study into the root causes of radicalisation in the Brussels commune of Molenbeek that seemed to support the view that social deprivation played a very large role in radicalisation, at least in Belgium.

Beatrix Immenkamp argued that regardless of whether one took the view that there was a radicalisation through Islam, or a radicalisation of Islam, the fact remained that contemporary terrorists were framing their violent acts in an Islamic discourse. Therefore, she argued, policy-makers could not really avoid the question of why the interpretation of Islam fashionable among young Muslims in Europe today lent itself to abuse by a violent minority. She deplored the fact that the atrocities committed by a small minority discredited the millions of ordinary, law-abiding and non-violent Muslim citizens living in Europe today. She concluded by saying that European policy-makers should look into ways to ensure that Islam could no longer be so easily co-opted to serve a radical ideology.

A recording of the book presentation is available here.

Relevant publications

The EU and faith-based organisations in development and humanitarian aid (November 2017)

The financing of the ‘Islamic State’ in Iraq and Syria (September 2017)

ISIL/Da’esh: From Mosul to Mosul (July 2017)

Religious organisations and conflict resolution (November 2016)

ISIL/Da’esh and ‘non-conventional’ weapons of terror (May 2016)

Female radicalisation and violent extremism  (April 2016)

Education and Intercultural Dialogue as tools against radicalisation (November 2015)

Cybersecurity: Jihadism and the internet (May 2015)

Religious fundamentalism and radicalisation (March 2015)

The international coalition to counter ISIL/Da’esh (March 2015)

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Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/11/29/article-17-dialogue-book-presentation-jihad-and-death-the-global-appeal-of-islamic-state/

Benefits of EU environmental and climate action

Written by Dessislava Yougova,

Dokuzak waterfall in Strandja mountain, Bulgaria during autumn

© Shutterstock / De MONNKA

EU environmental action aims to preserve, protect and improve the quality of the environment. It contributes to protecting human health and ensures the sustainable utilisation of natural resources.

The EU shares competence in the area of environment with the Member States, and has legislated on a range of environmental issues such as air and water quality, climate change, species and habitat protection.

There are several reasons to address environmental issues at the European level, especially when environmental problems are transnational by nature. Harmonising environmental norms at the EU level is also the only way to put environmental protection at the heart of the single market. Environmental issues often require long-term action which means constant investment and policy stability. Less subject to short-term political perturbation, the EU can provide the long-term dimension in a different way to national governments.

Environmental laws are essential to Europe’s welfare, but must be properly implemented and respected. According to a recent study , ‘EU enforcement action brings considerable benefits for citizens and the environment. In some cases, EU legal action has reduced the economic costs and losses that typically result from damage to human health and the environment when environmental legislation is flouted. In other cases, it has contributed to a better quality of national legislation and decision making’.

The European Commission highlights that full implementation of EU environment legislation could save the EU economy €50 billion every year in health costs and direct costs to the environment. According to Eurobarometer, three out of four citizens consider European laws necessary to protect the environment in their country, and four out of five agree that European institutions should be able to check whether the laws are being correctly applied ( European Commission press release ).

According to The European environment: state and outlook 2015 , published by the European Environment Agency, ‘Europe’s environment and climate policies have delivered substantial benefits, improving the environment and quality of life, while driving innovation, job creation and growth’. However, there is still a range of environmental challenges that Europe has to address. Delivering on the circular economy, improving air quality, and addressing climate change are some examples of areas where enhanced action at the EU level is essential.

General studies

Environmental policy and politics in the European Union , Tom Delreux and Sander Happaerts, Palgrave, 2016, 304 p.
The book highlights the role of the environmental policy as a major area of EU activity. With more than 400 pieces of legislation in force, EU environmental policy has a considerable impact on the state of the environment in Europe and is a deeply Europeanized policy area with important transversal effects.

Study to assess the benefits delivered through the enforcement of EU environmental legislation , Milieu/COWI, September 2016, 2012 p.
This study assesses the impact of the Commission’s enforcement action in five environmental sectors: waste, water, nature protection, air and environmental impact assessment. It shows that EU legal action brings considerable benefits for citizens and environment by reducing economic costs and losses resulting from damage to human health and the environment when environmental legislation is flouted, or by contributing to a better quality of national legislation and decision making.

Report on the influence of EU policies on the environment , IEEP, August 2013, 60 p.
According to this report, the European level has grown progressively since the 1970s to become the core framework in most areas of environmental policy. It now covers air and water pollution, major aspects of climate change mitigation, waste and recycling, biodiversity conservation, the regulation of chemicals, noise, environmental liability and justice, marine protection and more other issues. As several examples illustrate, EU measures can provide direction, drive and clear context in which specific initiatives and approaches to national and regional conditions can be framed.



Evaluation study to support the Fitness Check of the Birds and Habitats Directives : Final Report, Milieu [et al.], March 2016, 668 p.
The aim of this study is to evaluate the benefits and changes resulting from implementation of the Nature Directives, which are additional to the results from action taken at national or regional levels. It shows that the transnational character of nature justifies EU level action as a more effective way to achieve the conservation objectives of the Directives and that these Directives have introduced innovative changes that provide added value to what would likely have resulted without the EU legislation.

Marine protected areas in Europe’s seas: An overview and perspectives for the future , EEA, October 2015, 40 p.
This document reports on progress made to date in establishing Marine protected areas (MPAs) and networks in Europe’s seas. MPAs are a key policy measure and management tool for addressing increasingly complex threats to marine ecosystems resulting from multiple human activities and the effects of climatic change. They are also a key mechanism to safeguard biodiversity and increase the resilience of ecosystems to new threats.


European bathing water quality in 2016: report , EEA, May 2017, 24 p.
For over 40 years the EU’s Bathing Water Directive, which sets water quality standards and monitoring guidelines, has ensured vast improvements in providing clean bathing water across Europe. See also information by country

The cost of non-Europe in water legislation , EPRS/Triple E consulting, May 2015, 128 p.
This study examines the state of implementation of current EU water legislation and identifies the cost of the lack of further European action in this field. It estimates that the benefits of full implementation of existing legislation could reach 2.8 billion euro per year and demonstrates also that further European action in this field could provide further added value of some 25 billion euro per year. See also the Infographic: Potential benefits of EU water legislation


Evaluation of the EU ETS directive , Umweltbundesamt [et al.], November 2015, 303 p.
This study, carried out within the project “Support for the Review of the EU Emissions Trading System”, concludes that the EU ETS Directive is highly relevant for the EU’s climate policy. It is effective in reducing GHG emissions from the sources covered, and it provides the incentives to reduce emissions efficiently. The EU ETS in general is coherent with other EU policies, in particular in the areas of energy efficiency, renewables, other climate policies and environmental regulation for industrial installations. There is significant EU-added value in this legislation.

EU global environmental leadership

EU actorness, cohesiveness and effectiveness in environmental affairs , Tom Delreux, in: Journal of European Public Policy , 16 Jun 2014, 17 p.
The aim of this contribution, based on comparative data of nine international negotiations resulting in a multilateral environmental agreement, is to address the cohesiveness of the European Union in international environmental negotiations and to examine the effect of this on the EU’s effectiveness.

The EU as a global ecological power: The logics of market integration , Eloi Laurent, Jacques Le Cacheux, OFCE/Sciences Po, May 2010, 17 p.
This paper shows how the EU became a global ecological power that influences environmental policies throughout the world. It highlights the decisive role of Single market integration in fostering convergence of environmental policies at the European level as well as in extending European influence at the global level. The approach is illustrated with the case of climate policy, detailing the EU’s influence on economic instruments developed worldwide to mitigate climate change.

EU funding for environment and climate change actions

Support for an external and independent LIFE mid term evaluation report , ECORYS, March 2017, 546 p.
The purpose of this study is to assess the performance of the LIFE Programme during the past three years with respect to the implementation, development and enforcement of EU environmental and climate legislation. The conclusions are derived from 96 questions addressing effectiveness, efficiency, coherence, relevance, EU added value, sustainability, impact, and other specific aspects of the Programme. The evaluation concludes that LIFE is delivering in line with set targets. There is evidence of a positive cost-benefit ratio when comparing funding to societal gains.

Mainstreaming of climate action into ESI Funds , COWI, May 2016, 143 p.
The European Council’s conclusions in February 2013, supported by the European Parliament in the October 2012 resolution stated that climate action objectives will represent at least 20 % of EU spending in the 2014-2020 period. This report analyses the achievements in this regard. It concludes that European Structural and Investment Funds have delivered a strong contribution to the political target of 20 %. In total, some 25 % of the support is allocated for climate action.

Ex post evaluation of Cohesion Policy programmes 2007-2013, focusing on the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund (CF): Environment, Milieu/COWI/ Csil, March 2016, 180 p.
This evaluation analyses the progress and achievements of Cohesion Policy for environment related infrastructure focusing on two areas: waste management and water. Broad review of the portfolio of projects and operational programmes and a more detailed analysis of the quality of the financial analysis for 20 selected major projects were carried out. The study found that the support for environment for the programming period 2007-2013 represented about € 46.5 billion. In many EU13 and southern EU15 Member States, Cohesion Policy is one of the main sources of public financing and therefore provided a major contribution to achieving EU water and waste targets.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/11/28/benefits-of-eu-environmental-and-climate-action/

MEPs renew their annual rendez-vous with scientists in Brussels

Written by Zsolt G. Pataki with Nada Alkhayat,

Albert Einstein statue

©Photo Landa 2010

The events: Science meets Parliaments, followed by the Brussels week of STOA’s MEP-Scientist Pairing Scheme.

The purpose: Bringing together policy-makers and researchers; creating a platform for knowledge and experience sharing to mutual benefit; and promoting a better understanding between science and policy-making.

When? 28-30 November 2017

The STOA Panel comprises 25 MEPs with a shared interest in techno-scientific developments, and their implications for daily life and policy-making. Encouraging the exchange of ideas between scientists and MEPs is an essential part of STOA’s mission. STOA is now running the sixth edition of its MEP-Scientist Pairing Scheme, following a successful fifth round in 2016. The project is led by STOA Chair Eva Kaili (S&D, Greece). The high point of the Pairing Scheme is the ‘Brussels week’ – an intensive, 3-day get-together of MEPs and researchers in Brussels. This year it takes place from 28 to 30 November, beginning with the ‘Science meets Parliaments’ event, organised together with the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), on 28 November at the European Parliament.

Follow the live-webstream

Twitter hashtag: EUsci4pol

The 2017 edition brings together 18 pairs!

For year after year of successive editions of this project, MEPs and scientists’ interest remains high. Knowledge-sharing has grown to become a real priority in the EU institutions. However, the downside of having access to such a vast amount of information is that it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish between the two F’s: facts and fake! This is where STOA’s MEP- Scientist Paring Scheme comes into the picture.

This year’s participating scientists come from a wide range of EU Member States and institutions: eight from the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSC), six from the European Research Council (ERC), two from the Joint Research Centre (JRC) and two from the EU Agencies Network for Scientific Advice (EU-ANSA). The scientists come from different disciplines, and are chosen by the MEPs according to their areas of work and the competences of the committees of which they are members. The policy areas covered in this year’s edition are ‘health and life sciences’, ‘challenges and potentials of the Information Society’, ‘sustainable management of natural resources’, and ‘science policy, communication, and global networking’. Click here to see which MEPs and researchers are taking part.

Goal: stepping into one another’s shoes

The scheme is organised to provide a platform where MEPs from different political groups, Member States and backgrounds can choose a scientist to shadow them, providing insights for their work. The reverse also applies, as the scientists have the opportunity to learn about the legislative process, the work of EP committees, Parliament’s research services, and how decisions are made at EU level – truly stepping into someone else’s shoes. It is vital for the two sides to identify the areas where their respective knowledge and experience can be combined with that of their counterpart, so as to feed into better legislation and policy-making. MEPs can follow-up on this by visiting their paired scientists at their workplace. The outcome will be a better understanding between the worlds of science and EU policy-making; an important part of STOA’s mission.

Meet the 2017 Scientists and their MEP counterparts



Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/11/27/meps-renew-their-annual-rendez-vous-with-scientists-in-brussels/

European Parliament Plenary Session, November II 2017

Written by Clare Ferguson,

European Parliament building Brussels

European Union, EP

Each autumn, Parliament turns its attention to agreeing the budget for the following year’s operations. The first item on the agenda for the second plenary session in November, therefore, is a vote on the joint agreement between the Council and Parliament on the 2018 EU budget. Following some revision (in both directions) of the amounts, the priority for sustainable growth, jobs, security, and climate change is maintained and supported with €160.11 billion in commitments, translating to total payments of €144.68 billion. Moving closer to the Commission’s original proposal, allocations to tackle competitiveness for growth and jobs are increased for the Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+ programmes, as well as raising the Youth Employment Initiative to €350 million. The budgets of the EU agencies dealing with the migration crisis are enlarged, and adjustments made to reflect the changing political landscape in accession candidate countries. Should the Council reject the revised text at this stage of the 2018 budgetary procedure, the Parliament’s vote could still go ahead. However, should the Parliament reject the proposals, the Commission would have to go back to the drawing board.

Parliament will also vote on Wednesday evening on the redeployment of €100 million of existing budgetary resources to the Instrument Contributing to Stability and Peace for 2018-2020. As security is a precondition for development, the instrument aims to counter the deterioration of the security environment in which EU development initiatives operate to boost peace and security and eliminate poverty. The EU already supports civilian security sector actors in crisis and conflict situations; however, in cases where only the military are able to restore a secure situation for the provision of aid, without adapting the instrument to military actors, it is unable at present to act. One such crisis is the situation in Yemen, regarding which the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the EU Commission, Federica Mogherini, will make a statement on Wednesday evening. Socio-economic collapse, long predicted in Yemen, and the continuing security vacuum, have brought the country to a crisis point far beyond the political crossroads it faced in 2014.

During the financial crisis, banking failures spread between financial institutions, sometimes requiring the taxpayer to bail them out. To avoid this situation in any future scenario, the EU is reforming its regulations for financial services. Under the EU’s new bank recovery and resolution legislation, and because national rules on unsecured debt holders and creditors diverge, differences in the ranking of unsecured debt instruments in insolvency hierarchy have emerged. On Thursday morning, Parliament is expected to vote on a proposal to ensure that the legislation applies uniformly in the EU to rank bank creditors when banks fail. Following the 2008 financial crisis, G20 leaders called for new high-quality standards for financial organisations. The consequent publication of international financial reporting standard 9 seeks to encourage financial institutions to greater prudence when estimating future credit losses on their financial assets. On Wednesday afternoon, Parliament will vote on proposed transitional arrangements for mitigating the impact of IFRS 9. As the standard requires banks to hold more capital, a proposed five-year phase-in period should allow EU banks to add a portion of this provision onto their regulatory capital, as well as a three-year phase-out for banks with large exposure to public-sector foreign currency debt.

In other financial matters, the European Commission will announce a decision on the Fair Taxation Package II on Wednesday afternoon, which seeks to create a single EU value added tax area, including to combat fraud and boost small cross-border sales.

Also on Wednesday afternoon, the European Commission will announce a decision on the State of the Energy Union 2017, where considerable progress has already been made. In turn, the European Commission will be asked an oral question in plenary on Wednesday evening regarding negotiations for a new multilateral court for the settlement of investment disputes. The proposed court (see the investment court system (ICS)) would replace investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) – a subject of some concern to both legislators and the public in recent trade negotiations.

Finally, Parliament will vote on a report on the implementation of the European disability strategy on Thursday morning, which highlights the need to include equality, gender and non-discrimination aspects in all areas of legislation affecting the needs of those with disabilities. While the European Accessibility Act appears to a step in the right direction to improving access, major barriers to social inclusion, employment, and education continue to disadvantage people with disabilities in the EU.

Thursday lunchtime will see Members vote on a number of reports in addition to those mentioned above, including: the draft amending Budget No 6/2017; mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund and Flexibility Instrument to finance budgetary measures; changes to the resources for economic, social and territorial cohesion and to the resources for the investment for growth and jobs goal and for the European territorial cooperation goal; applications from Finland and Greece for mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund. Voting will also take place on proposals for the use of the PRIMA for scientific and technological cooperation with Algeria, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon; and the accession of various countries to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction; as well as on combating VAT fraud, and VAT in services and distance sales of goods.


Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/11/27/european-parliament-plenary-session-november-ii-2017/

Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing

Written by Irina Popescu and Samy Chahri,

The IUU Regulation (1005/2008) is the core of EU’s legal framework for action against global IUU fishing. Its primary objective is to prevent, deter and eliminate the trade of IUU-caught products into the EU. One of its key components is a multiple-step procedure for dealing with non-EU countries considered uncooperative in the fight against IUU fishing.

The European Commission identifies non-EU countries that fail to discharge their duties under international law to take action against IUU fishing, and initiates dialogue with each of them (i.e. with more than 50 countries to date). In most cases, the bilateral discussions result in the countries in question improving the governance of their fisheries.

If the dialogue does not resolve the shortcomings, the Commission notifies the country of the risk of being identified as non-cooperating. This notification is known as ‘pre-identification‘, or a ‘yellow card‘. The Commission proposes tailored measures, which the non-EU country is expected to address by a specified deadline. If the pre-identified country makes progress in line with the proposed measures but more time is needed to conclude the reforms, the yellow card status may be extended.

In cases where the pre-identified country fails to resolve its IUU fishing problems, the Commission identifies it as a non-cooperating country, in what is called the ‘identification‘ step, or the ‘red card‘, and proposes to the Council to place the country on the list of non-cooperating countries, i.e. the ‘listing‘ step. Listing involves trade-restrictive measures – the prohibition of imports of fishery products from the listed country, associated with a prohibition on EU vessels operating in its waters.

Dialogue remains open throughout the procedure. When a pre-identified, identified or listed country makes concrete progress in resolving EU concerns, the Commission lifts the pre-identification status or proposes to the Council to delist the country, i.e. it gives the ‘green card‘.

The map below shows the countries involved in these procedures. The most recent card is indicated on top.

Illegal unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing

Overview of the procedures

A total of 25 countries have been given a yellow card (up to November 2017). Ten of them had their pre-identification lifted after periods varying between 10 and 39 months. For six of the pre-identified countries, the procedure continued with a red card and listing, of which three countries were delisted after 13, 20 and 35 months respectively. Currently nine countries have a yellow card, and three countries have a red card.

The countries involved in the procedures are located in southern and eastern Asia (seven of them), western-central Pacific (six), the Caribbean (six), West Africa (five) and the western Indian Ocean (one).

The figure below provides an overview of the procedures launched by the Commission, and their progress over time.

overview of the procedures launched by the Commission

Read this ‘At a glance’ infographic on ‘Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing‘ in the Think tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/11/27/illegal-unreported-and-unregulated-iuu-fishing/

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, 2017

Written by Rosamund Shreeves,

‘When words break through unspeakability, what was tolerated by a society sometimes becomes intolerable (Rebecca Solnit, The Mother of all Questions, 2017)

This year, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November, takes place against a backdrop of revelations about sexual harassment, that were followed by women sharing their personal experiences on social media, highlighting the magnitude of the problem, helping to raise public awareness, and igniting conversations throughout the EU.

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women 25 NovemberWhat does the data say about the scale of sexual harassment in Europe?

The data shows that sexual harassment is a widespread and common experience for women in the EU, both in the workplace and in other settings.

The most comprehensive survey on violence against women at EU level – based on interviews with 42 000 women in all 28 EU Member States on their experiences of physical and sexual violence, sexual harassment and stalking over the past year and since the age of 15 – was published by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) in 2014. Since perceptions of what constitutes sexual harassment can differ from person to person according to individuals’ awareness of their rights and cultural attitudes in society and workplaces, the survey asked women about their experiences of eleven specific forms of unwanted and offensive behaviour, covering a spectrum of verbal, non-verbal, online and physical acts of unwelcome sexual attention or coercion. The acts were ranked along a continuum, from verbal harassment to physical assault.

The survey found that one in two women (55 %) have experienced sexual harassment at least once since the age of 15, whilst 45 % have experienced the forms of harassment identified as most threatening and serious. In the workplace, 75 % of women in qualified professions or top management jobs and 61 % of women employed in the service sector have been subject to sexual harassment. One third (32 %) of all victims in the EU said the perpetrator was their boss, a colleague, or a customer. One in ten women has experienced sexual harassment or stalking through new technologies. Many forms of sexual harassment happen repeatedly and the majority of women have experienced more than one type of sexual harassment over their lifetime. The FRA survey data and other recent European and national studies also illustrate that young women are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment, including in schools, higher education and workplaces, and to cyber harassment. Whilst being better educated can protect women from sexual abuse in intimate relationships, it also exposes them to more sexual harassment, as they are more likely to be present and prominent in social and political life. The political arena was not addressed specifically in the FRA survey. However, a 2016 International Parliamentary Union (IPU) study on sexism, harassment and violence against women parliamentarians highlights the prevalence of sexual harassment, including requests for sexual favours in exchange for material and/or political advantages (‘sextortion‘). In public spaces and on public transport sexual harassment is also widespread.

One of the key FRA survey findings, for all types of violence, is that the majority of women do not report their experiences, meaning that they are not receiving support or redress and that official data does not reflect the true scale of the problem. In the case of sexual harassment, 35 % of the women had not spoken to anyone about the most serious incident before the survey interview, and only 4 % had reported it to their employer or to the police. One in five victims (20 %) said that the most serious incident made her feel ashamed of what had taken place, something often cited in women’s recent testimonies as a reason for staying silent. Half (52 %) of the women who had not talked to anyone about the most serious incident said that this was because they had dealt with the harassment themselves. One explanation for this is that women tend to downplay the seriousness of incidents, particularly if sexual harassment is tolerated or seen as ‘normal’ in a particular cultural context. Alternatively, according to a recent UK survey on workplace sexual harassment, some women feel that sexual harassment is so commonplace that challenging it is hopeless. In this survey, other reasons women gave for not reporting incidents to their employer were: fears that doing so would have a negative impact on their working relationships (28 %), or career (15 %); feeling that they would not be believed or taken seriously (24 %); embarrassment (20 %); not knowing how to report it (12 %); or not knowing that they could report it (9 %).

Regarding the outcome of reporting, the FRA survey found that the majority of women who did contact their employer, a trade union, a doctor, a counsellor, or a victim support organisation, were either very satisfied or fairly satisfied with the response they received. However, in the UK workplace survey, the minority of women who had reported sexual harassment said that there had been no positive change and 16 % reported that they were actually treated worse as a result.

Individual testimonies

“On my last day at work, a colleague told me that his biggest regret was that he didn’t get the chance to rape me in the store room before I left. For months I had been scared to go into that room on my own because he always said things like, “I’m coming to get you” and “Don’t go in there alone, I’ll jump on you.”“At the job I recently left, a male manager said to me (in front of a female manager) that I would do well in the organisation because I have big boobs.”

“I used to work in a law firm. Whenever I won a case in court, I would be lambasted by a particular male colleague who would leer at me and make comments like “How much did you pay the judge to win the case?”, “You only won because you’re wearing a skirt” and “Did you sleep with the judge then?”

“On a night out, stood in a crowd of male colleagues who were considerably older than me (I was 19) when one of them interrupted me by leaning through the circle and touching my boob while the rest laughed. Not one of them said anything or even seemed to think it was wrong.”

Still just a bit of banter? Sexual harassment in the workplace in 2016, Trade Union Congress (TUC) / Everyday Sexism Project, UK 2016

What does EU and national legislation say about sexual harassment?

No EU law explicitly prohibits sexual harassment in all contexts. Under Directive 2006/54/EC Member States and employers have a duty to protect women against sexual harassment in the workplace (including access to employment, vocational training and promotion). The directive defines sexual harassment as, ‘any form of uninvited verbal, non-verbal, or physical behaviour of a sexual character that is either performed intentionally or has as a result the offence against a person’s dignity, especially when it creates for him/her an environment that is threatening, hostile, undermining, insulting, or derogatory’. European employers’ organisations and trade unions have also signed an agreement on harassment and violence at work that defines the duties and best practice procedures. Directive 2010/41/EU extends this protection to the self-employed, whilst Directive 2004/113/EC extends the scope to certain goods and services (but currently excludes the media, advertising and education).

Although this EU anti-discrimination law is embedded in national law, it has not had the expected impact. One issue is that sexual harassment continues to be understood differently across the EU. As the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) reports, definitions vary widely in national legislation, and only 12 Member States have made it a criminal offence. Even then, the definitions may be very restrictive, only apply in an employment context, or if the victim is in a subordinate position to the perpetrator.

What more can be done and what action is being taken?

A new study for the European Parliament’s Committee for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality finds that harmonising the definitions of all the various forms of violence against women and criminalising them as a specific offences would make them more visible. It would also improve data collection and monitoring, and the effectiveness of prosecution and prevention, and provide a better basis for policy. European bodies, including Equinet and the Fundamental Rights Agency propose that the Member States and the EU should review their legislation and policy on sexual harassment and extend them to cover sexual harassment in other contexts besides the workplace, including new media. EIGE has also urged EU Member States to do more to raise public awareness that sexual harassment is a crime that needs to be reported and prosecuted, and to support frontline organisations.

To help ensure a more coordinated legislative and policy framework on violence against women, the European Commission and the European Parliament are urging the eleven Member States that have not yet done so to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention). They also call for speedy ratification by the EU, which signed the Convention in May 2017. The Istanbul Convention defines sexual harassment (Article 40). It also requires the parties to prohibit sexual harassment in all contexts, including the private sphere, and to establish effective policies to prevent and combat harassment, including effective and dissuasive criminal and non-criminal sanctions. As part of its 2017 year of action to combat violence against women, the Commission has issued a study on the extent of sexual harassment and other forms of gender based violence in sport. The Commission has also made €4 million available to the Member States for awareness raising and education on violence against women, including sexual harassment, and €6 million for civil society organisations for projects to combat violence against women or support its victims. The website dedicated to the campaign contains stories of people and projects fighting sexual harassment and a list of helplines in various European countries for those who need help.

Looking forward, consultations with stakeholders at the European Commission’s 2017 Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights on 20-21 November highlighted that combating sexual harassment and other forms of violence against women, including online sexual harassment and misogynistic hate speech, and the gender stereotypes and structural power relations that underpin them, will need to be a key part of the next Gender Equality Strategy. EIGE’s new framework for measuring violence against women already includes some indicators on sexual harassment. A Eurostat taskforce is planning a second EU-wide survey on violence against women, which will update the existing data.

Closer to home, on 26 October 2017, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on combating sexual harassment and abuse in the EU, which also commits to reviewing its own internal procedures for preventing and reporting sexual harassment.

One in two women in the EU experience sexual harassment

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/11/24/international-day-for-the-elimination-of-violence-against-women-2017/

EU single market: Boosting growth and jobs in the EU

Written by Elodie Thirion,
Graphics: Giulio Sabbati,

  • The single market constitutes the largest barrier-free, common economic space in the industrialised world, encompassing over half a billion citizens in an economy with a gross domestic product (GDP) of some €13 trillion.
  • Since its creation the single market has added 2.2 % to the EU gross domestic product (GDP), increased employment by 2.8 million, and promoted inward investment into the EU economy.
  • Delivering and completing the existing single market could potentially allow for a €651 billion additional benefit per year.

The progressive abolition of trade barriers

3D Europe puzzle

© Billion Photos / Shutterstock.com

The EU single market (also known as the internal market and, originally, the common market) prescribes free movement from one EU Member State to another of goods, people, services and capital (known as the ‘four freedoms’). This is implemented by eliminating barriers so that citizens and companies in the EU can benefit from direct access to 28 countries and over 500 million people.

Intra-EU tariffs and trade quotas were progressively abolished from the 1960s onwards with the creation of the customs union. While intra-EU tariff barriers were completely eliminated by 1968, non-tariff barriers remained – such as divergences in technical regulations, administrative obligations, currency devaluations, and tax differentials. In 1986, the Single European Act set a deadline to complete the EU single market by the end of 1992. It helped to revitalise the EU economy, as companies were enabled to operate across national boundaries − realising both their ‘comparative advantage’ and economies of scale − and consumers enjoyed widening and cheaper choice in increasingly competitive markets.

This process was given additional impetus by the parallel broadening of the market, with its enlargement: from a Community initially encompassing 170 million people in six Member States in the late 1950s, the number of EU citizens grew from 345 million in 12 Member States in 1992, to just over 500 million in 28 Member States by 2013. Since the creation of the European Economic Area (EEA) in 1994, the single market has also included Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. The number of companies located within the single market has risen from 12 million in 1999 to 22 million in 2014, adding up to an increase of 10 million companies in 15 years.

The European Parliament believes that free movement of goods, capital, services and people still offers untapped potential for citizens and business, in terms of efficiency, growth and job creation. Regarding the free movement of goods alone, the untapped potential would represent as much as €183 billion per year – 1.3 % of EU GDP. And the long-term potential gains from completing the single market in services would be of the order of €338 billion, or 2.4 % of EU GDP. Finally, the detriment to the consumer resulting from an incomplete single market in the consumer acquis – the body of EU consumer law – would be around €58 billion per year, or 0.42 % of EU GDP. European Parliament has repeatedly called on the Commission to submit proposals to bring the single market to its full potential.

See, for example, European Parliament resolution of 15 February 2017 on single market governance, European Parliament resolution of 26 May 2016 on non-tariff barriers in the single market, European Parliament resolution of 12 April 2016 on towards improved single market regulation, European Parliament resolution of 7 February 2013 on better governance for the single market, European Parliament resolution 20 May 2010 on delivering a single market to consumers and citizens.

Main benefits of the single market

Main benefits of the single marketThe single market, with its 500 million consumers, is larger in size than the United States or Japan. It enables businesses to achieve economies of scale and productivity gains (for example, by eliminating technical inefficiencies) and allows for better employment and lower prices for citizens. The overall effect of the single market is a higher GDP, greater employment, expanded internal and external trade, and stronger inward investment into the EU economy than would otherwise have been the case

  • The single market enabled European consumers to enjoy a greater variety of products.
  • From 1992 to 2006, the single market increased EU GDP by 2.2 %, representing €233 billion, or around €500 per citizen.
  • From 1992 to 2006, the single market created 2.75 million jobs, representing a 1.4% increase in total employment.
  • The single market increased intra-EU trade by 9 %.
  • In the absence of the single market, per capita European incomes would be 12 % lower today.
  • The reduction of trade costs resulted in additional trade flows – between 1992 and 2012, intra-EU trade intensity rose from about 12 % to 22 % of GDP – and higher benefits from existing trade flows.
  • The single market has also increased the attractiveness of the EU as a trading partner for third countries and the ability of EU firms to compete on global markets. Between 1992 and 2016, exports of goods and services as a share of EU GDP rose from 5 to 43 %.

Benefits of the single market in specific sectors

Free movement of goods

Free movement of people

Free movement of services

  • Between 1999 and 2005, the single market increased intra-EU trade in services by 5 %.
  • Trade in services is 9 % higher between EU Member States than would have been the case in a free trade area (without tariffs, but with other barriers remaining).
  • There has been an increase in trade in services across Europe since 1992 – between 1992 and 2013, intra-EU trade in services rose from €215 billion to €685 billion – although it is unclear whether or not the single market is the only driver.
  • It is estimated that the Services Directive has already increased EU GDP by 8 %, with an impact varying between Member States from 0.3 % to over 1.5 % of GDP.
  • The breaking down of barriers in the EU telecommunications market has improved efficiency in the economy. Consumers saved €9.6 billion between 2009 and 2013, thanks to lower roaming charges.

Free movement of capital

  • Capital flows in the euro area averaged €6.73 billion from 1999 until 2017, reaching an all-time high of €95.70 billion in June 2017 and a record low of -€71.22 billion in October 2008.
  • The annual flow of inward foreign direct investment (FDI) into the EU rose from €64 billion in 1992 to €280 billion in 2016, peaking at €730 billion in 2007, before the 2008 economic crisis.

The deepening of the single market

The Single European Act set a deadline for completing the internal market by 31 December 1992. Although a lot was achieved between 1986 and 1992, the single market was never completed as such. Some of the 3 500 single-market measures so far adopted, mainly to establish common or minimum standards, still need to be implemented or effectively enforced. Although the Commission says that the formal rate of non- or incorrect transposition in Member States has fallen to only around 1 %, the Monti Report of 2010 suggested that half of the single market directives faced implementation difficulties of some kind. At any given time, around 800 infringement complaints are pending.

Deepening the single market potential gains

In 2014, it was estimated that there were also still significant ‘missing links’ in the single market. Action on four fronts – full implementation of the Services Directive, further integration of the energy and financial services sectors, and further progress in opening up public procurement – could add an additional 3 % to EU GDP by 2020.

The economic cost of market fragmentation and of the gaps and deficits is huge. Completing the single market would trigger economic gains ranging from €651 billion to €1.1 trillion per year, equivalent to a range of 5 % – 8.63 % of EU GDP. It would also create at least 7.5 million jobs by 2030, in the digital single market (223 000 jobs by 2020) and research (7.2 million jobs by 2030) areas alone.

The magnitude of the estimates vary across studies, depending on the methodology used and the assumptions about the extent to which internal market barriers are further reduced. However, they all show that such a further deepening of the single market would have substantial benefits for EU citizens and business in terms of higher incomes and employment and greater choice and business opportunities. Noticeably, the estimated effects of reducing trade barriers are not uniform across Member States.

It is worth noting that in existing studies, a large part of the direct and indirect impacts of single market integration are of an economic nature. Nevertheless, the EU single market also serves other purposes, such as supporting inclusive and sustainable growth and protecting European consumer rights. Further research should show that potential gains could be evidenced by a holistic analysis, namely by taking into consideration all macroeconomic, social and environmental aspects of further dynamic effects on welfare, employment, income, and the environmental footprint.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/11/24/eu-single-market-boosting-growth-and-jobs-in-the-eu/