Месечни архиви: ноември 2017

Eastern Partnership: 2017 Brussels summit – Taking stock and new objectives

Written by Philippe Perchoc,

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On 24 November 2017, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine meet with the European Union (EU) in Brussels for the fifth Eastern Partnership (EaP) summit. A lot has been achieved since the Riga summit in 2015: association agreements (AA) and deep and comprehensive free trade agreements (DCFTAs) have been in force with Georgia and Moldova since 2014, and with Ukraine since 2016. From 2017 onwards, Georgians and Ukrainians can travel to the EU without a visa, which highlights the EU’s commitment to the region.

The EU is about to sign an association agreement with Armenia and is negotiating a new framework for relationships with Azerbaijan. In June 2017, the European External Action Service and the European Commission jointly proposed to streamline the institutional architecture of the EaP, as well as putting forward a series of 20 deliverables for 2020, to benefit citizens of the region.

Ahead of the summit, the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly, bringing together members of both the Eastern Partnership countries’ parliaments and the European Parliament, and the European Parliament itself, have defined their positions. The European Parliament called, in November 2017, for the EaP summit to inject new dynamism into the partnership and to set a clear political vision for its future in the long term.

Read this briefing on ‘Eastern Partnership: 2017 Brussels summit – Taking stock and new objectives‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/11/23/eastern-partnership-2017-brussels-summit-taking-stock-and-new-objectives/

Saudi Arabia: Economic indicators and trade with EU

Written by Giulio Sabbati (EPRS),

In cooperation with Caterina Francesca Guidi (from GlobalStat | EUI),

The EU is Saudi Arabia’s first trading partner in goods, with 16.3 % of Saudi Arabia’s global trade, followed by China with 14.1 % and the US with 11.8 %. Saudi Arabia is the EU’s 15th trading partner in goods, with an EU market share of 1.5 %. The trade balance is positive for the EU, as this infographic illustrates. Trade between the EU and Saudi Arabia takes place within the framework of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The GCC countries formed their own customs union on 1 January 2015. The EU exports a wide range of goods and services to the region; however, around 50 % of the EU’s exported goods to the GCC are machinery, including power generation plants, railway locomotives, aircrafts, electrical machinery and mechanical appliances. Meanwhile, approximately 70 % of all EU imports from the GCC consist of fuels and their derivatives. Following a reliance on oil revenues for about 90% of its budget in recent years, Saudi Arabia has embarked on an ambitious plan to restructure its oil-dependent economy, known as Vision 2030, involving diversification, privatisation, tax increases and subsidy cuts. Saudi Arabia has significant defence relationships with a rising number of EU Member States, primarily driven by the trade in arms (and often also related contracts for training and maintenance).

Download this infographic on ‘Saudi Arabia: Economic indicators and trade with EU‘ in PDF.

GlobalStat, a project of the EUI’s Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies and the Francisco Manuel dos Santos Foundation aims to offer the best available gateway to statistical data. It is easily accessible, intuitive to use, and free of charge. In just three clicks it offers data from 1960 onwards for 193 UN countries, five continents and 12 political and regional entities – including the European Union – gathered from over 80 international sources. The project, presents data as diverse as income distribution, water resources, housing, migration, land use, food production, nutrition, or life expectancy, which contributes to a better understanding of the interrelations between human living conditions and globalisation trends.

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Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/11/23/saudi-arabia-economic-indicators-and-trade-with-eu/

Therapies for the future – Advanced therapies & nanomedicine

Written by Gianluca Quaglio and Nada Alkhayat,

The workshop on 'Therapies for the future'Advanced therapy medicinal products constitute a heterogeneous group of biopharmaceuticals encompassing gene therapy and somatic cell therapy medicinal products, as well as tissue-engineered and combined products (tissues or cells associated with a device). Nanomedicine comprises applications of nanotechnology for the diagnosis and treatment of biological systems. Research into the delivery of pharmaceutical and diagnostic agents is at the forefront of projects in nanomedicine.

The workshop on ‘Therapies for the future’, held at the European Parliament on 11 October 2017, reported on the status of nanomaterial-based and advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMPs), as well as on possible options for the future development of these new therapies in Europe, supporting patient access and transparent information across Europe. Paul Rübig, MEP and First STOA Vice-Chair, began the session by underlining that nanomedicine and ATMPs have the potential to transform medicinal practice, reshaping the treatment of a wide range of clinical conditions.

Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, in his keynote speech, stressed that, in order to promote progress, the EU needs to do more together. He also argued that it is the EU’s duty and responsibility to guarantee that the regulatory frameworks facilitate the emergence of new therapies and better diagnostic tools, while also ensuring patient safety.

ATMPs: Need for ‘innovation in the process as much as in the therapy’

Beatrice Lorenzin, the Italian Minister of Health, joined the event via video. Lorenzin noted that many considerations come into play when assessing the value of new therapies, such as the durability of the treatment, the benefits for the patients and the overall cost-effectiveness of the medicines themselves.

In the EU, ATMPs are governed by Regulation 1394/2007 (ATMP Regulation). The cornerstone of the regulation is that marketing authorisation must be obtained prior to the marketing of ATMPs. The regulation has certainly protected patients from unsound treatments, however, many experts recognised shortcomings arising from the legislation and, hence, suggested actions to translate scientific progress into medicinal products available to patients. Guido Rasi, Executive Director of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), underlined that, if ATMPs are to fulfil their promise of providing innovative treatments for patients, then regulators must nurture a regulatory environment that encourages innovation, safeguards public health and, ultimately, facilitates timely patient access to new therapies.

Andrea Chiesi, Vice-President of the European BioPharmaceutical Enterprises (EBE), added that, since the entry into force of the ATMP Regulation, only eight ATMPs have been authorised. Indeed, despite the unified ATMP framework in Europe, variations in national legislations relate to such crucial issues as, for instance, clinical trials, good manufacturing practices, market access and ethical oversight. This is detrimental for European patients, as well as posing a major challenge for the future of the ATMP sector in Europe. Europe, Chiesi concluded, needs to find a path that ensures a more consistent and transparent approach in this field.

Building on the points made by the previous speakers, Yan Le Cam, Chief Executive Officer of EURORDIS, which represents rare disease patients in Europe, suggested four major actions for innovation in the regulatory process and the therapy development:

  • a new R&D model, with, among other things, more flexible clinical trials, more innovative statistical methods, a more patient-relevant approach and use of biomarkers;
  • early dialogue with those paying (in principle national and regional health services), early approval and increased European cooperation on value assessment;
  • the need for a new healthcare delivery system, with more specialty medicines in specialised centres of expertise, associated with data collection in pre- and post-market authorisation phases;
  • the portfolios of companies could be enlarged, with more products per company, but at lower prices.

Le Cam appealed for a better consideration, at European level, of inter-relations between the value at market authorisation time, the additional evidence generated in the following years and the volume of patients treated.

With the Horizon 2020 research programme, the European Commission made major efforts to support research and innovation aiming at bringing ATMPs into the clinic and to the market. At present, 23 projects have been or are being funded through an EU contribution, noted Bernard Mulligan, Deputy Head of Unit for Innovative tools, technologies and concepts in health research at the European Commission Directorate-General for Research & Innovation.

Nanotechnology: regulatory demands, clinical application and market opportunities

Nanotechnology is considered a key technology for the implementation of personalised medicine. It offers the means to adopt a more patient-centred approach, which becomes even more important for diseases with a poor prognosis. Susanne Bremer-Hoffmann, from the JRC‘s Directorate for Health, Consumers and Reference Materials, underlined that the translation of nanomedicines from the laboratory into clinical application requires the anticipation of regulatory demands, which must be satisfied to enable a smooth transition to the market.

A major limitation of today’s medicine is the lack of precision in targeting patients, organs and diseased cells. For the precision medicine of tomorrow, the currently evolving paradigms of receptor-specific targeting of nanomaterial-based drug carriers, and a predictive understanding of individual patient responses is needed. Professor Patrick Hunziker, President of the International Society for Nanomedicine, discussed the major obstacles that hinder the translation of new ideas through basic research to clinical and industrial applications.

Research in nanomedicine is extremely time-consuming and any novel technology needs up to 30–35 years to reach the market. Beat Loeffler, Chief Executive Officer of the European Foundation for Clinical Nanomedicine (CLINAM), discussed the market opportunities, restraints and drivers for nanomedicine, and proposals for an acceleration of the nanomedicine market in Europe.

Advancing these advanced therapies

There was common agreement that the EU is committed to supporting the development of advanced therapies. A crucial aspect will be to ensure that the regulatory framework supports and does not hinder development of these therapies. Moreover, an improved regulatory framework will also contribute to promoting innovation, investment and the competitiveness of the EU biotechnology sector, whilst striving to ensure patient access. The implementation of the actions suggested by the speakers will hopefully increase the treatment opportunities for patients in the future.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/11/22/therapies-for-the-future-advanced-therapies-nanomedicine/

High Level conference: Towards a renewed partnership with Africa

Written by Eric Pichon,

High Level conference: Towards a renewed partnership with Africa

Today, the European Parliament’s President, Antonio Tajani, convenes a high level conference on Africa, bringing together officials, experts and stakeholders from Africa and Europe. In the run-up to the Africa-EU Summit that will take place in Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire) next week, the Parliament is once again demonstrating its commitment to this relationship.

More than ever, Africa’s and Europe’s fates are bound together. Of course, migration issues repeatedly hit the headlines, and the EU’s most visible action is its endeavour to stop people making dangerous journeys and to return migrants with irregular status to their countries of origin, with the cooperation of African countries. But there is a longer-term dimension that Africa and the EU have also taken into consideration: illegal migration will be reduced only if people are safe at home and able to make a living. Africa, the world’s youngest continent, is also a land of opportunities. For these opportunities to be grabbed, the EU and Africa have, for ten years now, been implementing a joint strategy. The Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES), reviewed in 2014, takes a five-pronged approach: peace and security; democracy, good governance and human rights; human development; sustainable and inclusive development and growth; and continental integration, global and emerging issues.

Parliament’s high-level conference and the AU-EU summit will be the opportunity to assess the results of the JAES 2014-2017 implementation plan, and set new priorities for future cooperation. The discussions might also help to streamline the JAES with the ACP-EU partnership (for Sub-Saharan Africa) – as the Cotonou Agreement with the ACP countries needs to be revised before it expires in 2020 – and with the EU Neighbourhood policy (for North Africa).

Sustainable development of African countries in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals is a key priority for both partners. The EU has created new financing instruments aimed at leveraging Member States’ and private investment to attain this objective: the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, and the European Fund for Sustainable Development. Harnessing Africa’s growth – through developing its industry and empowering youth – is a key priority among the shared objectives of the EU and AU. Regional integration is seen as one way to achieve this aim. However, facilitating doing business is not possible where unstable governments, lack of transparency and violence are the common lot of millions. The African Union often now takes the lead in condemning unconstitutional change of governments and trying to restore peace in conflict-affected areas. The EU is one of the main supporters of these actions, and has developed its own strategies to tackle instability in sensitive regions, such as the Sahel and the Horn of Africa.

The European Parliament champions the Africa-EU partnership and would like stronger actions, such as reinforced political dialogue, with a greater parliamentary dimension, to be adopted. As President Tajani puts it: ‘Cooperation should not be only political and institutional, but fully involve economic actors and civil society’. Whatever the objectives, the European Parliament has often recalled that migration and security objectives should not cast a shadow over development aims and the core values of democracy, human rights and good governance that are at the heart of the EU Treaties.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/11/22/high-level-conference-towards-a-renewed-partnership-with-africa/

Disinformation, ‘fake news’ and the EU’s response

Written by Naja Bentzen,

Fake news word tag cloud. 3D rendering, blue variant.

© ommbeu / Fotolia

The impact of the online spread of mis- and disinformation – including false news posing as factual stories – became increasingly visible in the context of the crisis in Ukraine, and gained notoriety as a global challenge during the 2016 United States presidential election campaign. Ahead of the European elections in 2019, the EU is now stepping up its efforts to tackle ‘fake news’.

A global phenomenon with growing presence and impact

The phenomenon of false, misleading news stories is at least as old as the printing press. However, social media and their personalisation tools have accelerated the spread of rumours, and the phenomenon gained global visibility during the 2016 US presidential election, when viral ‘fake news’ (or ‘junk news‘, as some researchers prefer to call it) across the political spectrum received more engagement on Facebook than real news. The Australian Macquarie Dictionary chose ‘fake news’ as its word of the year for 2016, defining it as ‘disinformation and hoaxes published on websites for political purposes or to drive web traffic’. The dictionary argued that the term ‘captures an interesting evolution in the creation of deceptive content as a way of herding people in a specific direction’. According to the Collins Dictionary, which chose ‘fake news’ as its word of the year for 2017, the term saw an unprecedented increase in usage, of 365 % since 2016.

Disinformation as an information warfare tool

A growing number of EU citizens (46 % on average in 2016) follow news on social media; six out of ten news items shared are passed on without being read first; and US research has shown that most young, digital-savvy students have difficulties in identifying ‘fake news’. False news headlines seem tailored to trick users into sharing the stories, making them spread fast and far among like-minded users. When designed to deceive users for political purposes, digital gossip falls under ‘disinformation‘ – the dissemination of deliberately false information which non-state and state actors can use as a strategic tool to undermine adversaries.

The Kremlin continues to use influence operations in its ongoing hybrid war against Ukraine and is said to apply them in its ‘holistic‘ information warfare against the EU and the West. Pro-Kremlin information campaigns boost Moscow’s narrative of a West in decline, including a ‘morally decayed EU’ on the brink of collapse. A declassified US intelligence assessment published in January 2017 said that the Kremlin used professional ‘trolls’ (internet warriors) and state media ‘as part of its influence efforts’. In August 2017, the USA imposed fresh sanctions on Russia over Moscow’s interference in the 2016 election, among other things. Whereas US tech giants had previously played down the volume of content purchased by Russian actors during the 2016 US presidential election campaign, Facebook, Google and Twitter told US lawmakers on 1 November 2017 that pro-Kremlin actors bought and published divisive ads aimed at influencing both liberals and conservatives. According to Facebook, Russia-backed posts reached up to 126 million Americans during and after the 2016 presidential election, whereas Twitter disclosed that it had found 2 752 accounts linked to Russian actors. Reports on Russian state investments in these firms have increased the focus on their societal and political role. EU Member States such as Spain and the UK have openly accused Russia of launching divisive influence campaigns. There is also concern that the 2019 European elections could be targeted.

So far, the Kremlin has dismissed allegations of interference in the US election campaign and in the UK referendum on EU membership. However, in February 2017 the Russian Defence Minister, Sergey Shoigu, acknowledged that a dedicated information warfare force had been established in 2013 within the Ministry of Defence. He added that Moscow’s ‘propaganda needs to be clever, smart and efficient’. Security analysts say that Shoigu’s announcement indicates that Moscow can no longer deny propaganda activities.

The Kremlin acknowledges its information warfare capabilities and intentions

Pro-Kremlin information campaigns boost Moscow’s narrative of a West in decline, including a ‘weak and morally decayed EU’ about to collapse. So far, the Kremlin has denied all allegations of interference in the US election. However, on 22 February 2017, Russian Defence Minister, Sergey Shoigu, announced that ‘information operations forces have been established that are expected to be a far more effective tool than all we used before’, arguing that Moscow’s ‘propaganda needs to be clever, smart and efficient’. Security analysts say that Shoigu’s announcement indicates that Moscow can no longer deny propaganda activities. At the same time, Russia’s foreign ministry itself began to publish ‘materials that contain false information about Russia’ on its website. There is also concern that the 2019 European elections could be targeted.

Growing European focus and pressure on social media companies

Although social media platforms have resisted being labelled as publishers, both Facebook and Google have launched fact-checking features, and on 26 October 2017, Twitter banned ads from Russian state media companies RT and Sputnik, citing their attempts to interfere with the US election ‘on behalf of the Russian government’. Meanwhile, there is growing pressure, not only in the USA but also in Europe, on social media companies to assume greater responsibility for the content they spread. In June 2017, the German Parliament passed the Act to Improve Enforcement of the Law in Social Networks. It enables authorities to issue fines of up to €50 million on social media companies who fail to remove hate speech, incitements to violence and defamation within 24 hours. A UK House of Commons inquiry was launched in January 2017, aiming to examine the role of social media, among other things, in the spread of ‘fake news’.

EU steps up anti-fake news efforts to protect democracy

In a June 2017 resolution on online platforms and the digital single market (2016/2276(INI)), MEPs stressed the ‘importance of taking action against the dissemination of fake news’, calling on online platforms to provide users with tools to denounce fake news, while at the same time highlighting the fundamental role of the free exchange of opinions, as well as the value of the free press as regards providing citizens with reliable information. On 13 November 2017, the Commission launched a public consultation on ‘fake news and online disinformation’ and set up a high-level expert group representing academics, online platforms, news media and civil society organisations. It is planning to publish a communication on fake news and disinformation in spring 2018. Speaking on 13 November, Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner responsible for Digital Economy and Society, stated that, in the face of fake news as ‘a direct threat to the very foundations of our democratic society’, the main goal was to defend citizens’ right to quality information. Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, acknowledged the need to strike a balance between the freedom of expression, media pluralism and citizens’ right to access diverse and reliable information, arguing that online platforms and news media should ‘play a part in the solution’. The public consultation runs until February 2018 and addresses content that is not per se illegal and therefore not covered by existing EU or national legislation. All stakeholders (including citizens, social media platforms, news organisations, researchers and public authorities) can contribute with views on the scope of the problem, assessments of already existing measures and ideas on possible future action. In addition to these steps, some Member States such as Italy and Sweden are introducing digital competence courses in schools to push back against ‘fake news’ and propaganda.

Continued calls to boost EU ‘myth-busting’ team

In 2015, the European Council asked the EU High Representative, Federica Mogherini, to submit an action plan on strategic communication to address Russia’s ongoing disinformation campaigns. As a result, the East StratCom task force was set up in September 2015 under the European External Action Service (EEAS). Since then, the team (now 14 strong) has been working without its own budget, drawing on the existing EU strategic communication budget and seconded staff. It relies on a network of volunteers to collect the disinformation stories (more than 3 300 examples in 18 languages since 2015), which it analyses, debunks and publishes in its weekly newsletters. The team also explains and promotes the European Union’s policies, not least in the EU’s eastern neighbourhood.

The European Parliament, in its 23 November 2016 resolution on EU strategic communication to counteract propaganda, called for the East StratCom task force to be reinforced, including through ‘proper staffing and adequate budgetary resources’. Parliament’s proposed amendments to the draft EU budget for 2018 include the pilot project ‘StratCom Plus’, aiming to increase capacity to fact-check disinformation in and beyond the EU.

In a March 2017 open letter, a number of prominent European security experts, historians and lawmakers (including European Parliament Members) criticised Mogherini’s allegedly ‘irresponsibly weak’ stance on Russia’s ‘brutally aggressive disinformation campaign’. The signatories called for a single figure budget in millions of euros for the EEAS StratCom team. On 20 October, in an open letter to Mogherini, eight Member States (the Czech Republic, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Sweden and the UK) urged the EEAS to ‘further enhance the EU’s StratCom capabilities’.

At a foreign ministers’ meeting on 13 November, Mogherini called for additional resources for the StratCom team, not least to boost its capacities regarding the Western Balkans, which is being heavily targeted by Kremlin-backed influence campaigns. The 17 Member States that addressed the issue at the foreign ministers’ meeting, ‘generally concurred that strategic communication is very important’ and ‘agreed on the need for more [human and financial] resources’. However, there still no consensus in all EU Member States about the approach to take.

This is a further updated version of an ‘at a glance’ note published in April 2017: PE 599.384.

Read this At a glance on ‘Disinformation, ‘fake news’ and the EU’s response‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/11/20/disinformation-fake-news-and-the-eus-response/

Plenary round-up – Strasbourg, November I 2017

Written by Katarzyna Sochacka and Clare Ferguson,

Lux Prize Family Picture

© European Union 2017 – Source : EP

The key focal points of the November I plenary session included debates on the rule of law in Malta and Poland and on the ‘Paradise papers’ revelations. Members adopted, inter alia, their positions ahead of the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference and the Eastern Partnership Summit. They also adopted resolutions on the new EU-Africa strategy and on the Ombudsman’s activities in 2016. Parliament heard a formal address from Andrej Kiska, President of Slovakia, and finally, the 2017 LUX Prize was awarded at a ceremony held on Wednesday.

Paradise papers

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ recent revelations, known as the ‘Paradise papers,’ were the subject of Council and Commission statements. Parliament’s Inquiry Committee into Money Laundering, Tax Evasion and Tax Avoidance (PANA) is due to report on its work following the ICIJ’s previous, ‘Panama papers’, exposé during the December session. The ‘Paradise papers’ are certain to lead to redoubled EU efforts to clamp down on practices involving offshore interests and tax evasion and avoidance.

Multilateral negotiations in view of the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference

With the WTO Ministerial Conference to convene in Buenos Aires from 10-13 December 2017, Members adopted a resolution on multilateral negotiations in view of the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference, confirming Parliament’s commitment to multilateralism. Some of the main priorities for discussion at the ministerial conference are fisheries subsidies, agriculture negotiations, and domestic regulation of service providers.

Rule of law in Malta and Poland

The Parliament debated the situation of the rule of law in Malta after the Council and Commission made statements. In the resolution (adopted by 466 votes to 49, with 167 abstentions) Members called upon the Commission to begin dialogue on the rule of law with Malta, and to look at its application of the existing rules to tackle money laundering.

Following a debate with the Council and Commission, Members adopted (by 438 votes to 152, with 71 abstentions) a resolution calling on the Polish government to comply with the European Commission’s recommendations on respect for the rule of law. The EU could launch the Article 7 TEU procedure should the Polish government fail to respect these recommendations.

Recognition of professional qualifications in inland navigation

Members largely supported the proposed directive on the recognition of professional qualifications for inland waterways. The complicated system of national professional qualifications is thought to deter young people from working in the sector. The text agreed in trilogue on rules on the recognition of qualifications in inland navigation seeks to harmonise the rules, to attract more young people to take up jobs in the sector.

Listen to podcast ‘Professional qualifications in inland navigation.

Cooperation between national authorities responsible for the enforcement of consumer protection laws

The European Parliament approved, by a large majority, the agreement reached in trilogue on 22 June on the proposed regulation to update and reinforce cooperation between national authorities responsible for the enforcement of consumer protection laws. The EU wants to strengthen the current system of alerts and mutual assistance to deal with problems encountered in cross-border shopping online. The rules approved will give national authorities more powers to investigate and enforce the law.

Protection against dumped and subsidised imports from non-EU countries

Protection against dumped and subsidised imports from China and other third countries is vital for many EU industries. When China’s WTO Accession Protocol expired in 2016, the EU moved to ensure protection against dumped and subsidised imports from countries not members of the EU, using trade defence instruments to address problems such as over-capacity. Consequently, the EU institutions reached agreement on a revised Anti-Dumping Regulation to protect EU businesses from these unfair trading practices. Members discussed and adopted the text agreed with the Council in trilogue, with a large majority.

Relations with New Zealand

The EU-New Zealand Partnership Agreement signed on 5 October 2016 was referred to the Parliament for consent. Following a debate, Parliament, consented to the conclusion of the Agreement, and also adopted a resolution focusing on the common values shared by the EU and New Zealand, their strong and longstanding economic and cultural ties and their reliable cooperation, both bilateral and within international fora.

Eastern Partnership: November 2017 Summit

Parliament adopted its position in advance of the Eastern Partnership Summit, scheduled for 24 November 2017. The Eastern Partnership (EaP) is the eastern dimension of the European Neighbourhood Policy, launched in 2009, and encompassing the EU, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. In their resolution, Members insist on giving new dynamism to the EaP, differentiating between partners depending on their willingness for greater EU cooperation, assisting civil society, implementing the Association Agreements in place, visa liberalisation, and the new ‘EaP+’ model.

Activities of the European Ombudsman in 2016

Parliament held a debate on the report on the European Ombudsman’s activities during 2016. The Ombudsman conducts inquiries into cases of maladministration by EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies. The resolution underlines that complaints against the EU institutions fell slightly in 2016, with transparency-related issues and access to information and documents the top subject matter for complaints.

The EU-Africa Strategy: a boost for development

Given the dynamic demographic growth in Africa, young people will be the focus of the next summit of EU and African Heads of State or Government, which takes place at the end of November in Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire). The Parliament adopted a resolution defining its position on a new relationship to replace the ten-year old Africa-EU Joint Strategy. The new priorities for EU-Africa cooperation include a focus on human development, particularly for employment and education for the young, good governance, and human rights

Listen to podcast ‘New priorities for EU–Africa cooperation‘.

Opening of trilogue negotiations

The Civil Liberties, Justice & Home Affairs Committee decision to enter into trilogue negotiations on the proposal regarding criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person was approved, following a vote in plenary. Negotiating mandates adopted by the LIBE committee on three further proposals were confirmed unopposed.

LUX Prize 2017

On 14 November, the LUX Film Prize for 2017 was awarded to the film Sami Blood, a story about a Sami girl from the north of Sweden, who overcomes prejudice against her people in her quest to become a teacher.

This ‘at a glance’ note is intended to review some of the highlights of the plenary part-session, and notably to follow up on key dossiers identified by EPRS. It does not aim to be exhaustive. For more detailed information on specific files, please see other EPRS products, notably our ‘EU legislation in progress’ briefings, and the plenary minutes.

Read this At a glance on ‘Plenary round-up – Strasbourg, November I 2017‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/11/20/plenary-round-up-strasbourg-november-i-2017/

Universal Children’s Day

Written by Kristina Grosek,

Group of school children jumpng isolated in white20 November is an important date for children’s rights – the day on which the United Nations (UN) General Assembly adopted two cornerstone documents regarding children, the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1989.

20 November is also the day recognised as Universal Children’s Day and celebrated annually to promote understanding among children and their welfare worldwide. The UN General Assembly established the Universal Day in 1954, recommending all countries to observe it as the day of worldwide fraternity and understanding between children.

Universal Children’s Day is an opportunity to promote and celebrate children’s rights, but also to take a brief look at the regulatory framework put in place to ensure children’s wellbeing in Europe.


The CRC, adopted in 1989, and swiftly ratified by 196 countries, including all the EU Member States, represents a crucial international instrument stipulating civil, social, economic, and political standards for safeguarding children’s rights. It requires governments to ensure that the best interest of the child is their primary consideration in all actions concerning children. Although the EU is not a party to the Convention, and there is no legal obligation binding EU institutions to apply its provisions, the CRC nevertheless plays an important role in developing EU legislation on children’s rights.

At EU level, protecting children’s rights became legally enforceable through two instruments: the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (Charter).

With the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, protecting the rights of the child was officially recognised (Article 3 TEU) as one of the European Union’s goals, both internally and externally, and the Charter became legally binding. Article 24 of the Charter makes children independent holders of their rights and recognises the necessity for their protection.

Although concrete measures to protect children’s rights are in the hands of individual Member States, the EU provides the policy framework and an Agenda for the Rights of the Child with 11 specific actions contributing to children’s well-being and safety.

Recent EU action

Child poverty and social exclusion.

In 2013, the European Commission published the recommendation ‘Investing in children: breaking the cycle of disadvantage‘, calling on Member States to address child poverty, strengthen children’s rights and improve their wellbeing. In 2017, the Commission took stock of its implementation, and concluded that the recession that began with the financial crisis in 2008 has led to a marked deterioration in child poverty and well-being indicators in many EU Member States. The main policy challenges ahead will therefore include maintaining the focus on supporting parents, to ensure that they have access to decent paid work, child benefits and high quality services. Another focus must be on ensuring that particularly disadvantaged children (i.e., children with disabilities, children in alternative care, children with a migration background and Roma children) also benefit equally from the investments in children’s futures. These measures to improve children’s rights are included as priorities in the Commission’s proposal for the European Pillar of Social Rights. Violence against children.

Violence against children can take numerous forms (physical, sexual or emotional abuse, or neglect) and the EU has addressed different forms of violence in legislation (sexual abuse and exploitation, human trafficking, protection in criminal proceedings) and initiatives (better internet for children) and has supported its eradication through EU funding.

Children in migration and armed conflict.

In its communication of April 2017, the Commission outlines the urgent action to be taken to ensure a comprehensive approach to the protection of children in migration. The communication follows up on the European Agenda on Migration and Action Plan on Unaccompanied Minors (2010-2014). The 11th European Forum on the rights of the child held on 6-7 November 2017 focused on children deprived of their liberty and alternatives to detention.

Children make up one third of migrant arrivals since 2015, according to the latest FRA study. As various Member States are attempting to make returns of unsuccessful asylum applicants and irregular migrants more efficient, the use of detention, including detaining children, is likely to increase. Although there are no comparable and complete data on the number of children detained for immigration related purposes, reports state that, on 1 September 2016, 821 children were detained in 21 Member States, while no data were available for the remaining 7 Member States.

The European Parliament, as a co-legislator, plays a crucial role in the adoption of legislation concerning protection of children’s rights. It has also voiced its concerns and called for action on numerous occasions on issues including child poverty, detention for children, ending child marriage, education of children in emergency situations and online sexual abuse. Parliament has also strongly emphasised the need to protect child migrants and unaccompanied minors. Although Parliament does not have a committee dedicated entirely to children’s rights, it has formed a cross-party and cross-national Intergroup of Members of Parliament aiming to promote children’s rights. More than 100 members have pledged to become child rights champions in the Parliament through signing the Child Rights Manifesto.

To mark Universal Children’s Day this year, the European Parliament is hosting a high level event – The Europe we want – on 20 November 2017, at which Members of the European Parliament will listen and respond to children’s questions regarding their vision of Europe.

Recent EPRS publications on children’s rights

EPRS at a glance (2017) United Nations Universal Children’s Day and the protection of children’s rights by the EU, Joanna Apap

EPRS study (2017) Combating sexual abuse of children Directive 2011/93/EU, Amandine Scherrer, Wouter van Ballegooij

EPRS briefing (2016) Arbitrary detention of women and children for immigration purposes, Joanna Apap

EPRS briefing (2016) Vulnerability of unaccompanied and separated child migrants, Joanna Apap

EPRS keysource (2016) Unaccompanied children in the EU, Anna Dimitrova Stull, Irene Penas Dendariena and Ulla Jurviste

EPRS keysource (2016) Child-friendly justice in the EU, Anna Dimitrova Stull, Irene Penas Dendariena and Ulla Jurviste

EPRS briefing (2016) Child poverty in the European Union: The crisis and its aftermath, Marie Lecerf

EPRS study (2014) Violence towards children in the EU : current situation, Anna Dimitrova Stull

EPRS at a glance (2017) United Nations Universal Children’s Day and the protection of children’s rights by the EU, Joanna Apap

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2017/11/20/universal-childrens-day/