Месечни архиви: март 2018

The long-term EU budget [What Think Tanks are thinking]

Written by Marcin Grajewski,

Europe finance, economic, money squeezing idea, colorful alphabet word BUDGET using red clamp as G letter on Euro banknotes on wooden table, crisis and world depression.

© Nuthawut / Fotolia

European Union leaders agreed at their informal meeting on 23 February that the EU should spend more after 2020 on curbing illegal migration, on defence and security, and on the Erasmus+ student-exchange programme. The summit marked a preparatory stage in negotiations on the EU’s next long-term budget, known as the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), which will span a period of five or seven years, starting in January 2021.

There was no agreement on how to plug the hole in the budget resulting from the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU in 2019. Some net-paying countries argued that EU spending should remain at the current level of approximately 1 % of EU gross national income, despite new priorities. That could mean cuts in funding available for cohesion and agricultural policies. Another dispute concerned the possibility of linking the receipt of EU funds to respect of EU fundamental values. The Commission is due to make a detailed post-2020 MFF proposal in May 2018.

This note offers links to a selection of recent commentaries, studies and reports from some of the major international think tanks and research institutes, which discuss the EU’s long-term budget and related reforms. It updates a previous edition published in January 2018.

The EU’s seven-year budget itch
Bruegel, March 2018

Squaring the MFF circle: How match funding can deliver the EU’s new priorities
European Policy Centre, February 2018

Expanding the reach of the EU budget via financial instruments
Centre for European Policy Studies, February 2018

EU budget, Common Agricultural Policy and Regional Policy: En route to reform?
Bruegel, February 2018

Financial Instruments: Defining the rationale for triggering their use
Centre for European Policy Studies, February 2018

Reinforcing the EU budget with a fossil-fuel contribution
Notre Europe, February 2018

EU budget: Expectations vs reality
Bruegel, January 2018

Der nächste Mehrjährige Finanzrahmen
Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, January 2018

Earmarked revenues: How the European Union can learn from US budgeting experience
Peterson Institute for International Economics, January 2018

Squaring the circle? EU budget negotiations after Brexit: Considering CEE perspective
Bertelsmann Stiftung, Institute of Public Affairs, January 2018

Let Europe’s citizens decide on the EU budget
Friends of Europe, December 2017

Prospects for a euro-area budget: An analytical outline
Martens Centre for European Studies, December 2017

EU budget: What’s the cost of Europe?
Jacques Delors Institute Berlin, November 2017

European financial outlook 2021-2027: Which budget for which Europe?
Fondation Robert Schuman, November 2017

Policy conditionality: A new instrument in the EU budget post-2020?
Swedish Institute for European Policy Studies, November 2017

The next Multiannual Financial Framework and the unity of the budget
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, November 2017

Climate risk and the EU budget: Investing in resilience
E3G, November 2017

Can the EU structural funds reconcile growth, solidarity and stability objectives?
European Policy Centre, October 2017

Strategically financing an effective role for the EU in the world: First reflections on the next EU budget
European Centre for Development Policy Management, September 2017

Climate mainstreaming in the EU budget: Preparing for the next MFF
Institute for European Environmental Policy, October 2017

The EU budget after 2020
Swedish Institute for European Policy Studies, September 2017

The future of the EU budget: Perspectives for the funding of growth-oriented policies post-2020
Swedish Institute for European Policy Studies, September 2017

El futuro de las finanzas de la UE: el largo camino hacia una reforma del Marco Financiero Plurianual de la UE más allá de 2020
Elcano Royal Institute, July 2017

Transparency and oversight of the Council’s budget: Council executive powers
Centre for European Policy Studies, July 2017

The future of the European budget: What does the Commission’s white paper mean for EU finances?
Notre Europe, June 2017

Key challenges and opportunities for cities and regions and MFF post 2020
Centre for European Policy Studies, June 2017

Eurozone or EU budget? Confronting a complex political question
Bruegel, June 2017

The Common Agricultural Policy and the next EU budget
Bertelsmann Stiftung, June 2017

The right moment to reform the EU budget
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, March 2017

How to make the most of the EU’s financial potential?
Egmont, March 2017

EU budget post-Brexit: Confronting reality, exploring viable solutions
European Policy Centre, March 2017

European Added Value narrows EU budgetary reform discussions
Clingendael, March 2017

The Instruments providing Macro-Financial Support to EU Member States
Centre for European Policy Studies, March 2017

The €60 billion Brexit bill: How to disentangle Britain from the EU budget
Centre for European Reform, February 2017

Returning meaning to the Common Agricultural Policy
Fondation Robert Schuman, February 2017

Brexit and the EU budget: Threat or opportunity?
Bertelsmann Stiftung, Jacques Delors Institute Berlin, January 2017

Read this briefing on ‘The long-term EU budget‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/03/14/the-long-term-eu-budget-what-think-tanks-are-thinking/

Looking for new ways to finance transport infrastructure projects in cross-border regions

Written by Mihalis Kritikos,

asphalted road on white. Isolated 3D image

© Ilin Sergey / Shutterstock

Meeting large infrastructure needs – including proper maintenance and operation – is and will remain a major challenge for the European Union (EU) in the coming years, requiring targeted innovative financing mechanisms. A range of mechanisms to finance transport infrastructure projects in cross-border regions, and the strategic role that the European Groupings of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) could play in the planning and implementation of cross-border investments, notably for small-scale projects, were the focus of the STOA (Science and Technology Options Assessment) study entitled ‘New ways of financing transport infrastructure projects in Europe’, published last week.

The study was requested by Paul Rübig, (EPP, Austria), First Vice-Chair of the STOA Panel, Boguslaw Liberadzski (S&D, Poland) and Claudia Schmidt (EPP, Austria), and carried out by TIS.pt (Consultores em Transportes Inovação e Sistemas), under Scientific Foresight Unit (STOA) management.

This study assessed a range of mechanisms to finance transport infrastructure projects in cross-border regions, and analysed the strategic role that the European Groupings of Territorial Cohesion (EGTC) could play in the planning and implementation of cross-border investments. Special attention was paid to often neglected small-scale projects that have an investment ceiling of €1 million. Building on an in-depth literature review, and supported by interviews with various regional cooperation structures, the study analysed the current situation regarding the availability of financing tools for new technologies that enhance transport infrastructure in cross-border regions. It also outlined sources of financial support that could meet investment needs and assessed technological challenges and trends in the intelligent transport systems field, with a focus on regional interoperability.

As part of this project, STOA organised a workshop on 6 June 2017, chaired by Claudia Schmidt. The workshop provided additional input for the study and served as a forum between policy-makers, experts and the public, focusing on the discussion of possible approaches to improve the financing of new technologies that could enhance transport infrastructure in border areas. Key expert speakers shared their views on the changes that are needed to enhance the role of cross-border financing, with stakeholders being invited to share their own experiences.

The study reveals several categories of missing cross-border links, including those related to transport networks, operations or services and technology. The authors identified the main reasons for the presence of missing links in cross-border regions. These concern the scarcity of data on cross-border mobility patterns; the low political visibility of local and regional authorities at the political decision-making centres; the excessive EU focus on specific corridors; cultural differences; the adjustment of financing mechanisms and regulations to the specificities of large-scale projects; the limited attractiveness of small-scale cross-border investment (SSCBI) projects for private investors; and the technological focus on cities and other densely populated regions, rather than on cross border regions.

The study puts forward a number of policy options for facilitating and accelerating cross border transport infrastructure projects, including the need to establish an EU observatory on cross-border transport and mobility dynamics that could overcome several data-collection limitations; raising the political visibility of small-scale cross-border projects at the EU level; developing new project assessment and evaluation guidelines for small-scale cross-border projects; establishing new funding mechanisms that are tailored to small-scale cross-border projects; strengthening the INTERREG programme as the chief financing instrument for cross-border regions; drafting new legislation that could facilitate the implementation of cross-border projects; and creating a new instrument to finance technological solutions for tackling small-scale missing links. The policy options are summarised in the Options Brief.

Your opinion counts for us. To let us know what you think, get in touch via email or complete a survey. Surveys are available for all STOA studies (click on the title and follow the link).

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/03/13/looking-for-new-ways-to-finance-transport-infrastructure-projects-in-cross-border-regions/

The future of employment: can we be optimistic about the impact of new technologies?

Written by Mihalis Kritikos,

competition of people and robots for jobs. technological revolution. Unemployment in the digital world

© studiostoks / Shutterstock

The relationship between new technologies, employment and inequality has gained a lot of attention recently. One reason for this interest is alarming reports about the possible negative consequences for employment of the widespread use of new information and communication technologies (ICTs), including machine learning, digitalisation of production, robotics and automated vehicles. What policy responses could answer this challenge?

Last week, the European Parliament’s STOA (Science and Technology Options Assessment) Panel published the results of its study on ‘The impact of new technologies on the labour market and the social economy’. The study was requested by Georgi Pirinski (S&D, Bulgaria) and carried out by the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT), under the management of the Scientific Foresight Unit (STOA).

The study investigated the relationship between innovation, new technologies, employment and inequality. Drawing on the existing literature, as well as experience from previous technological revolutions, the author concludes that we can be optimistic about the future. Innovation is labour-friendly: it destroys, but also creates employment.

As part of this project, STOA organised a workshop on 11 October 2016, chaired by Georgi Pirinski. The workshop provided additional input and discussed the topics and findings of the report with the audience. The race between job creation through product innovation and job destruction through process innovation was won in the past by the job-creating effects of innovation. The study does not envisage that digitalisation will lead to mass unemployment; however, it points out that, because of the skill-biased nature of technological change, the costs of digitalisation are unevenly distributed and are borne in particular by low-skilled workers, who face a higher risk of job displacement. Occupations with a high share of routine tasks, particularly in the service industries, are also at risk. Therefore, the challenge of the future lies in coping with rising inequality as a result of technological change.

The study proposes seven policy options, each expected to contribute to alleviating at least one challenge or barrier. Among them, the need to invest in digital education; in non-routine skills; in R&D at all levels in areas, such as ICTs, including measures to increase the available amount of venture capital, as well as in upgrading Europe’s internet infrastructure so as to maintain a balance between cities and rural areas, which may lag behind in terms of infrastructure. Moreover, ensuring equal access to connectivity and launching a European Union (EU) programme for broadband on a European scale could be a first step in that direction. The study also highlights ‘flexicurity’ as an important part of the European employment strategy, which is essential in helping future labour market policies cope with technological changes and the rise of new types of self-employment, such as platform work or ‘gigs’ that also call for new employment regulations. Finally, the study proposes reducing working time and strengthening EU and international cooperation on achieving some convergence on taxing the super-rich by imposing higher income taxes and introducing a stronger progression in income taxes or wealth taxes. The policy options are summarised in the Options Brief.

To summarise, it is neither desirable nor feasible to stop digitalisation, but many policy options are available to influence and steer the process by investing in education, infrastructure and R&D, and adapting labour legislation and tax and social-security policies to digitalisation. Perhaps most important is to think of digitalisation not as a threat, but as a chance to increase welfare, opportunities and social cohesion for all Europeans.

Your opinion counts for us. To let us know what you think, get in touch via email or complete a survey. Surveys are available for all STOA studies (click on the title and follow the link).

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/03/13/the-future-of-employment-can-we-be-optimistic-about-the-impact-of-new-technologies/

Removing CO2 from the air – golden opportunity or dangerous fantasy?

Written by Gregor Erbach,

Negative greenhouse gas emission technologies:  Potential, limitations and risks

Negative greenhouse gas emission technologies:
Potential, limitations and risks

There is a growing consensus that the emissions of greenhouse gases cannot be reduced fast enough to achieve the targets of the Paris Agreement. Most climate models show that CO2 must be actively removed from the atmosphere in order to keep global warming well below 2 degrees. Staying below 1.5 degrees would require even more removals.

How can CO2 be taken out of the air? Will the technologies be ready? How much would it cost? How much CO2 could be removed? What are the risks?

These questions were discussed on 8 March 2018 in the European Parliament, at an event co-organised by the European Science Academies’ Advisory Council (EASAC) and the European Parliament Research Service (EPRS). EASAC (comprising the national science academies of the EU Member States plus Norway and Switzerland), was established to provide independent science advice to European policymakers. So far, EASAC has published 35 reports. Its latest report, published in February 2018, concerns negative greenhouse gas emission technologies.

Negative greenhouse gas emission technologies:  Potential, limitations and risks

Professor Michael Norton, Director of the EASAC environment programme

Professor Michael Norton, Director of the EASAC environment programme, presented the main conclusions of the EASAC report: There are a number of promising technologies, ranging from forests and soils to machines that capture CO2 from the air, each of which has limits, costs and risks. For example, bio-energy with carbon capture and storage (CCS), a widely assumed negative emissions technology, competes for available land with agriculture, biodiversity and using forests as a carbon store. Moreover, its effectiveness in reducing emissions may be lower than commonly assumed. It depends on the availability of sites and infrastructure for storing the captured carbon, which the report identifies as one of the main bottlenecks, also for direct air capture technologies. The scale of the required CO2 removals is huge, and has been compared with the size of the global automobile industry. Enhancement of carbon in soils was also identified as a promising low-risk technology.

Negative greenhouse gas emission technologies:  Potential, limitations and risks

Kirsty Anderson (Global CCS Institute) and Maria Velkova (European Commission)

In the roundtable discussion, Hanna Aho of Fern, an NGO focused on forests and peoples’ rights, highlighted the need to balance the multiple functions of forests, and to protect and restore them with the help of local people. Maria Velkova, responsible for European Commission programmes that finance low-carbon technologies, presented the Commission’s existing initiatives for financing CCS (which have so far not resulted in large-scale projects) and the planned Innovation Fund. Kirsty Anderson of the Global CCS Institute emphasised the critical importance of investment in CCS infrastructure to support both mitigation and future negative emissions processes, and discussed the need to improve public awareness of these technologies and their role in reducing emissions. In his closing remarks, professor Thierry Courvoisier, president of EASAC, stressed that negative emission technologies cannot substitute for inadequate emission reductions and warned that markets are unlikely to deliver the needed solutions.

Negative greenhouse gas emission technologies:  Potential, limitations and risks

Professor Thierry Courvoisier, president of EASAC

The EASAC report warns that negative emission technologies have only limited realistic potential to remove carbon from the atmosphere, and recommends deep emission reductions, a stop and reversal of deforestation and soil degradation, a way forward for CCS, and further research and development on the other negative emission technologies, as there is no time to lose. How can you get involved? It will be a while before you can have a direct air capture machine to remove your unavoidable emissions. In the meanwhile, planting a couple of trees seems like a good idea!


Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/03/12/removing-co2-from-the-air-golden-opportunity-or-dangerous-fantasy/

The global state of democracy as seen by citizens

Written by Ionel Zamfir,

EPRS Policy Roundtable 'Declining commitment to democracy : What's going on around the world ?'

EPRS Policy Roundtable ‘Declining commitment to democracy : What’s going on around the world ?’

On 7 March 2018, the EPRS Members’ Research Service organised a roundtable on the global state of democracy as seen by citizens. The main questions addressed were: do citizens still trust democratic forms of governance? Are they still committed to the model, and can such commitment be boosted? What factors drive public preference for representative democracy over non-democratic options? These are vital questions to answer if there is to be a future for democracy in Europe and in the world.

Opening the event, Etienne Bassot, Director of the Members’ Research Service, highlighted the importance of the topic, particularly with the approaching elections for the European Parliament.

EPRS Policy Roundtable 'Declining commitment to democracy : What's going on around the world ?'


Warning that the failures of our democratic systems weaken citizens’ trust and embolden the enemies of democracies, the first speaker, Ana Gomes (S&D, Portugal), said we must learn the lessons of history and address these failures with courage. For example, the failure of our governments to uphold their legal and moral obligations towards those who need protection, such as refugees, has fuelled extremism and radicalisation. Complacency towards the rise of illiberal democracy in Europe is unacceptable. In fact, there is no such thing as an illiberal democracy, a democracy which does not respect human rights is not a democracy. Furthermore, democracies’ weaknesses in the face of corruption and criminal activities have to be addressed. Much of the deregulation associated with the supposedly liberal economy is deliberately encouraged for the benefit of certain groups, sometimes criminal organisations, such as terrorist groups that have taken advantage of the VAT fraud system. Our governments and the EU have not responded adequately. Populists therefore build on citizens’ justified mistrust towards government. We should not allow democracy’s enemies to exploit the weaknesses of our governments to interfere with public perceptions and capture people’s support. While it is not easy to find a solution, according to Ana Gomes we cannot remain idle. It takes courage to address the faults of our political systems, but it has to be done.

Monika Nogaj, Head of the Members’ Research Service External Policies Unit moderated the debate, during which Bruce Stokes, Director of Global Economic Attitudes at the Pew Research Center in Washington DC, presented a recent 38-nation Pew Research Center survey, which has found that there are reasons for calm as well as concern when it comes to democracy’s future. People still do be believe in democracy. More than half of respondents in each of the nations polled consider representative democracy a ‘very’ or ‘somewhat good’ way to govern their country. In all countries, pro-democracy attitudes coexist however, to varying degrees, with openness to non-democratic forms of governance, including rule by experts, a strong leader or the military.

EPRS Policy Roundtable 'Declining commitment to democracy : What's going on around the world ?'

Bruce STOKES, the director of Global Economic Attitudes at the Pew Research Center in Washington DC

Bruce Stokes focused on the survey’s European findings. Europeans are equally divided on the question whether they are satisfied with their democracy, which places them among the least satisfied in the world. Regional divides are important: Northern Europeans are quite satisfied with their democracy, while Southern Europeans are not. Europeans’ trust in their government is also lower than in other parts of the world, although it is stronger in some countries, such as the Netherlands and Germany. Despite their dissatisfaction with the way their government works, Europeans overwhelmingly support representative democracy as a government model. A majority of Europeans reject rule by experts. Europeans also overwhelmingly reject rule by a strong ruler. A striking outcome of the survey is the people’s desire to be more directly involved in political decisions. Some 70 % of Europeans want major issues to be put to a popular vote in their countries. Populist party supporters are even more supportive of direct democracy – likely one of the reasons some people prefer these parties.

EPRS Policy Roundtable 'Declining commitment to democracy : What's going on around the world ?'

EPRS Policy Roundtable ‘Declining commitment to democracy : What’s going on around the world ?’

Andrew Bradley, Director of the International IDEA office to the EU, presented the IDEA 2017 Report on the Global State of Democracy. The report, the first edition of the publication, focuses on exploring the resilience of democracy and analyses a set of key challenges to democracy. Bradley highlighted that democracy is at a cross-roads, facing serious challenges. Taking a longer and global perspective, however, reasons to be optimistic exist: global progress has been made in all aspects of democracy since 1975, based on the indices selected by IDEA. However, during recent years, threats have arisen which cannot be ignored. We should not therefore take democracy for granted.

The main challenges include backsliding and shrinking democratic space (more specifically constitutional amendments; concentration of power in the executive; undermined judicial independence; media restrictions; restrictions on opposition parties and civil society); rising populism and nationalism; spreading of fake news and disinformation; decreasing trust in political parties and elites; state capture and corruption, such as unchecked inflows of money into politics; spill-overs from regional conflicts, such as migration and refugee flows, that fuel populism in Europe.

Democracy is undergoing a crisis of political representation, which has to be addressed. IDEA makes a series of recommendations in this respect. Political parties have to remain responsive to the electorate’s needs during the entire electorate cycle, to address policy challenges without compromising ideology, to communicate political vision, and to outline innovative programmes. They have to be democratic, transparent, based on fair processes, open to pluralism, inclusive – particularly of young people and women, ready to engage with citizens, open to alternative forms of membership, able to restore trust (through anti-corruption measures and internal democracy), and open to alternative means of communication (ICT).

EPRS Policy Roundtable 'Declining commitment to democracy : What's going on around the world ?'

EPRS Policy Roundtable ‘Declining commitment to democracy : What’s going on around the world ?’

Commenting on the findings presented, Ionel Zamfir, policy analyst at EPRS, welcomed the distinction the Pew Survey drew between people’s trust in democracy as a form of government and their attitudes towards their existing government. Sometimes, there are positive reasons as to why people have become wary of the way their democracy functions, such as better access to information (including on corruption cases) and setting of higher standards, particularly by the young. Dissatisfaction with the way democracy works in practice does not necessarily represent a rejection of democratic principles as such. The popularity of direct democracy, as shown in the Pew Survey, clearly illustrates this distinction. Furthermore, the IDEA report’s findings that, taking a longer-term perspective, democracy is progressing in the world, despite current challenges, is important. Even if democratic progress is not linear, democracies are particularly fit to overcome crises, as they are flexible and able to adapt and reinvent themselves. The survey also provides some interesting insights for EU democracy support – a subject on which the EPRS has recently published a briefing. The EU is at the forefront of efforts to support democracy in third countries in the world. As the Pew Survey shows, people expect democratic systems to deliver, and the state of the economy and the effectiveness of the government are strong drivers of citizens’ trust in democracy. These findings legitimate the approach taken by the EU with regard to democracy support since the Lisbon Treaty, according to which consistency and coherence with other external policy must be assured and strengthened. Economic success and good governance (and EU aid can play an important supportive role) is important for the strength and resilience of democracies. In this respect, EU development aid, as well as the human rights and democracy conditionality enshrined in many of its bilateral relations, can ensure that democratic and economic progress go hand in hand.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/03/12/the-global-state-of-democracy-as-seen-by-citizens/

Permanent structured cooperation (PESCO): Beyond establishment

Written by Elena Lazarou with Alexandra M. Friede,

flag of european union on the khaki texture background. military concept

© luzitanija / Fotolia

In its 2016 Global Strategy, the European Union (EU) set a new level of ambition in security and defence. Closer defence cooperation among EU Member States is now at the top of the agenda. The aim is to make European defence spending more efficient, and work towards a strategically autonomous European defence union (EDU). The launch of permanent structured cooperation (PESCO) in December 2017 is seen as a crucial step in that direction.

On 13 November 2017, 23 EU Member States signed a joint notification addressed to the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) and to the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission (HR/VP) on their intention to participate in PESCO. On 11 December 2017, 25 Member States agreed to ‘ambitious and more binding common commitments’ and issued an initial list of 17 PESCO defence projects to fill the EU’s strategic capability gaps and ensure the cross-border availability, deployability and interoperability of forces. On 6 March 2018, the Council – meeting for the first time ever in ‘PESCO’ format – formally adopted the list of projects to be developed.

This new impetus given to EU defence has been accompanied by widespread support on the part of high-level EU representatives, and is also broadly backed by the European public. Nonetheless the ‘renaissance’ of EU defence policy came fairly unexpectedly. Several challenges remain, including boosting investment, overcoming fragmentation and accommodating national defence priorities while coordinating national defence capabilities.

Read this complete briefing on ‘Permanent structured cooperation (PESCO): Beyond establishment‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Figure 1 – EU-28 2017 defence budgets (€ million)

EU-28 2017 defence budgets

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/03/11/permanent-structured-cooperation-pesco-beyond-establishment/

Framework for future EU-UK relations

Written by Carmen-Cristina Cîrlig,

Chess games UK and EU

© biker3 / Fotolia

The European Parliament will hold a debate and vote a resolution setting out its proposals on the future relationship with the United Kingdom after Brexit, during its March plenary session. It thus aims to feed into the guidelines the European Council is expected to adopt on 22 March, on opening exploratory discussions with the UK on the framework of the future EU-UK relationship.


With talks continuing on the withdrawal agreement, based on the December 2017 joint EU-UK report, guide­lines on the framework for the future EU-UK relationship are expected to be agreed at a 22-23 March European Council meeting. A draft was sent to EU-27 leaders by the European Council President on 7 March. For the first time in history, the EU will negotiate the loosening of ties with a country, from a situation of full convergence.

The future framework for EU-UK relations and negotiating positions

Article 50 TEU contains no provisions on agreement(s) on a future relationship, therefore the Treaty procedures for negotiation and conclusion of international agreements apply. Since agreement(s) on future relations can be concluded only after the UK has left the EU, the aim is to agree an ‘overall understanding of the framework for the future relationship’, in a political declaration annexed to the withdrawal agreement.

The EU-27 agreed on broad principles for the ‘framework’ in April and December 2017. While affirming its desire for a close future partnership with the UK, the European Council set out the core principles guiding the EU: protecting the EU’s interests; ensuring a balance of rights and obligations, and a level playing field; preserving the integrity of the single market; stating that a non-member state cannot have the same rights as a Member State; preserving the EU’s decision-making autonomy, and the role of the European Court of Justice (CJEU); safeguarding the EU’s financial stability, its regulatory and supervisory regime. An EU-UK free trade agreement (FTA), which should be ‘balanced, ambitious and wide-ranging,’ must not undermine the single market, by allowing sectorial participation or by failing to ensure safeguards against unfair practices (i.e. UK lowering standards on state aid, competition, environment, tax). It should also ‘avoid upsetting existing relations with other third countries’. The EU-27 also expressed readiness to establish partnerships in other areas, such as ‘the fight against terrorism and international crime, as well as security, defence and foreign policy’.

The general UK objective for future relations, as expressed in various places (such as the February 2017 white paper on the new partnership with the EU, several thematic papers, and speeches of the Prime Minister) is to secure the ‘most frictionless possible trade in goods and services’ outside the single market and customs union, through a ‘new strategic partnership with the EU, including an ambitious FTA and a new customs arrangement’, but one not based on an existing EU model for relations with third countries. A critical objective (shared by the EU) is to avoid any physical infrastructure at the Irish border. The UK has repeatedly reconfirmed its red lines (ending direct jurisdiction of the CJEU, ending the freedom of movement of people and contributions to the EU budget, and pursuing an independent trade policy). The UK has also proposed to agree a treaty on internal security and a partnership on foreign and defence policy.

Trade and economic relations

The EU is the UK’s largest trading partner: in 2016, 43 % of all UK exports went to the EU, while 54 % of all UK imports came from the EU. Services made up 38 % of UK exports to the EU (particularly financial and business services). Single market and customs union membership enables this interdependence, but by rejecting this, the UK would make trade for both sides ‘more complicated and costly than today’, Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, stated. The EU is most concerned about the challenge in regulation, arguing that an ambitious partnership requires ‘common ground in fair competition, state aid, tax dumping, food safety, social and environmental standards’. Divergence would also be a major obstacle to cooperation in Ireland.

In her most recent speech, the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, recognised the trade-offs between sovereignty and market access, and the concept of a level playing field. She sought the ‘broadest and deepest possible partnership – covering more sectors and cooperating more fully than any FTA in the world today’, with, inter alia, voluntary alignment with EU standards, zero tariffs and quotas for goods and a ‘comprehensive system of mutual recognition’, a customs partnership, UK associate membership in EU regulatory agencies (medicines, chemicals, aviation safety), an independent arbitration mechanism, reciprocal access to waters for fisheries, and a financial services framework that is ‘reciprocal, mutually agreed and permanent’. A new data protection agreement and cooperation in other fields (transport, energy, culture, etc.) were mentioned.

Some assessed the proposals to be ‘double cherry picking‘, combining partial membership of the single market with elements of various EU FTAs and offering no solution on avoiding a hard Irish border. The draft European Council guidelines confirm that UK rejection of the single market and customs union leaves the option of a Canada-style FTA, proposing zero tariffs and quotas for trade in goods, reciprocal access to fishing waters, regulatory cooperation; market access for services under host state rules, with ‘ambitious provisions on movement of people’ and recognition of professional qualifications. Public procurement, investment and intellectual property rights, including geographical indications should also be covered. The draft does not mention financial services, and opts for the EU adequacy rules on data protection. However, the EU would reconsider its offer should the UK’s position evolve.

Police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters

Despite its special status (opt-outs), the UK has brought considerable expertise in the area of cooperation in criminal matters. As a third country, the UK would lose full access to important instruments, such as various Europol databases, cooperation under the European arrest warrant and European investigation order, and the exchange within the EU of criminal records for third-country nationals and passenger name records. The UK proposes to negotiate a UK-EU security treaty to preserve operational capabilities, while respecting both legal orders. The EU is eager too to discuss options for future cooperation: the draft European Council text mentions ‘effective exchanges of information, support for cooperation between law enforcement and judicial authorities’, while considering the UK’s future status as a non-Schengen third country.

Foreign policy and defence

On foreign policy and defence, both sides would like to reach a deal rapidly, as a ‘standstill transition’ could not apply after exit day. The common foreign (CFSP) and defence (CSDP) policies require unanimity for decisions, and during transition the UK would lose representation in the EU institutions. However, debate is ongoing among the EU-27 on what model of association could be offered. Some EU red lines for defence have emerged: inter alia, no UK participation in Council meetings; no lead on Battlegroups or CSDP missions; no provision of EU operational headquarters; and participation in permanent structured cooperation (PESCO) by invitation only. The draft guidelines specify that a future partnership should include mechanisms for dialogue, consultation, exchange of information and cooperation, while respecting the EU’s decision-making autonomy. A security of information agreement is a prerequisite. The UK has also pushed for a future security partnership with the EU, based on consultation and coordination in diplomatic fora; cooperation on sanctions; operational cooperation through UK contributions to EU operations and development programmes; and on capability development, including a future relationship with the European Defence Fund and Agency (EDA).

Other areas

The draft guidelines state the need for air transport and aviation safety agreements, and readiness to cooperate in research, innovation, education and culture, subject to appropriate UK financial contributions.

European Parliament position

On 13-14 March 2018, Parliament is set to debate and adopt a resolution on the framework of the future EU-UK relationship. The draft resolution builds on previous EP positions on Brexit (5 April, 3 October and 13 December 2017) and contains concrete proposals on the issue. Essentially, it proposes an association agreement (based on Articles 8 TEU and 217 TFEU) – with a single coherent governance mechanism for the entire relationship – comprising four pillars: trade and economic relations (a comprehensive EU-UK FTA); foreign policy, security, defence and development cooperation; internal security; and thematic cooperation (fisheries, aviation, research, innovation, culture, education etc.). The EP recalls that its consent for an agreement is linked to respecting the principles set out in the resolution. Finally, the EP expresses support for the Commission’s draft withdrawal agreement and restates the importance of reaching a deal on citizens’ rights.

Read this At a glance note on ‘Framework for future EU-UK relations‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/03/10/framework-for-future-eu-uk-relations/

Russia’s 2018 presidential election: Six more years of Putin

Written by Martin Russell,

View to Moscow Kremlin

© Vastram / Fotolia

On 18 March 2018, Russians will elect the president who will govern their country for the next six years. Incumbent, Vladimir Putin is firmly on track to win, with approval ratings that have stayed above 80 % since Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014. Russians see him as a strong president, who has brought order to the country and restored its great power status. They are worried about the economy, poverty and corruption, but these problems, though partly blamed on Putin, have barely dented his popularity.

Reportedly, Putin’s campaign has set a twin target of a 70 % vote in his favour and a 70 % turnout. Polls suggest that Putin will indeed win by a record margin, but also that a low turnout will tarnish his victory, denying him a ringing endorsement at the start of his fourth and probably final term in office. Apathy will probably be the main reason for voters staying at home, but some will heed an election boycott called by Alexey Navalny, Putin’s most vocal opponent, who has been barred from the race.

Vying for second place are seven other candidates. The most likely runners-up are veteran Vladimir Zhirinovsky and newcomer Pavel Grudinin. Reality TV star Xenia Sobchak adds colour to an otherwise lacklustre campaign, but few see her as a credible candidate.

Widespread electoral fraud on the day of the vote is not expected. Nevertheless, the exclusion of Alexey Navalny and the lack of any real alternative to Putin raise questions about the democratic legitimacy of the election.

Read this complete briefing on ‘Russia’s 2018 presidential election: Six more years of Putin‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/03/10/russias-2018-presidential-election-six-more-years-of-putin/

A new directive on work-life balance [EU Legislation in Progress][Policy podcast]

Written by Nora Milotay (1st edition),

Hand holding seesaw balancing work and life block objectsDespite significant progress for some social groups in the area of work-life balance, there has been a general trend of decline since 2011, and progress amongst Member States has been uneven. This proposed directive (complemented with non-legislative measures) should lead to the repeal of the existing Framework Agreement on Parental Leave, made binding by Council Directive 2010/18/EU (the Parental Leave Directive). The new directive contains proposals for paternity, parental and carers’ leave.

Stakeholders have been divided over the level of ambition of the proposed measures. Both EU advisory committees have issued opinions and some national parliaments have expressed their reasoned and other opinions. The Council of the EU issued a progress report in November 2017. The European Parliament’s Employment and Social Affairs Committee (EMPL) is expected to start consideration of its draft report on the proposed directive in spring 2018.

Interactive PDF

Stage: EESC


Listen to podcast ‘A new directive on work-life balance‘.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/03/09/a-new-directive-on-work-life-balance-eu-legislation-in-progress/

Migration [What Think Tanks are thinking]

Written by Marcin Grajewski,

Migrants Europe

© RVNW / Fotolia

The European Union’s southern borders remain under pressure from irregular migrants escaping poverty and war in the Middle East and Africa. The 2016 agreement between the EU and Turkey significantly slowed the influx to Europe through Greece of people escaping the war in Syria. However, the number of irregular migrant arrivals via other routes, especially across the central Mediterranean, remains high, boosting support for nationalist, anti-immigrant and populist groups across the EU. EU leaders agreed in February that the bloc should allocate more funds in its next long-term budget to the curbing of irregular migration.

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

Beyond border control, migrant integration policies must be revived
Bruegel, February 2018

Mainstreaming 2.0: How Europe’s education systems can boost migrant inclusion
Migration Policy Institute, February 2018

Leading the way? Italy’s external migration policies and the 2018 elections: An uncertain future
Istituto Affari Internazionali, February 2018

The external processing of asylum seekers: Member States’ migration talking shop
European Policy Centre, January 2018

People on the move: Migration and mobility in the European Union
Bruegel, January 2018

Regional migration governance: Contributions to a sustainable international migration architecture
Deutsche Institut für Entwicklungspolitik, January 2018

Is Europe turning its back on refugees and migrants?
Carnegie Europe, January 2018

Auf Lesbos zeigen sich die Versäumnisse des EU-Türkei-Abkommens
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik, January 2018

Turning the tide on EU migration policy
Notre Europe, December 2017

10 trends shaping migration
European Political Strategy Centre, December 2017

Nobody move! Myths of the EU migration crisis
European Union Institute for Security Studies, December 2017

The European External Investment Plan in the Southern Neighbourhood: How to make it work
European Policy Centre, December 2017

EU Migration Partnerships: A Work in progress
Migration Policy Institute, December 2017

Misunderstanding migration in North and West Africa
European Council on Foreign Relations, December 2017

The challenge of fostering financial inclusion of refugees
Bruegel, December 2017

How the EU has become an immigration area
Bruegel, December 2017

Global flows: Migration and security
Friends of Europe, December 2017

Establishing identity of non-EU nationals in Irish migration processes
Economic and Social Research Institute, European Migration Network, December 2017

Impulse für eine nachhaltige internationale Migrationsarchitektur
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, December 2017

Einwanderungspolitik in Italien: Probleme und Perspektiven
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, December 2017

How the EU and third countries can manage migration
Centre for European Reform, November 2017

Family reunification for migrants under subsidiary protection in Germany: An instrument for strategic political positioning
Centre for European Policy Studies, November 2017

The economic effects of refugee return and policy implications
OCP Policy Center, November 2017

The Global Compact for Migration: How does development fit in?
Migration Policy Institute, November 2017

Escaping from Tunisia
European Council on Foreign Relations, December 2017

Roadmap for sustainable migration management in the Sahel: Lessons from Agadez
Clingendael, November 2017

Beyond transactional deals: Building lasting migration partnerships in the Mediterranean
Migration Policy Institute, November 2017

The influence of economic migration on the Polish economy
Center for Social and Economic Research, November 2017

Europa und die Zuwanderung: Die Wahrnehmung von Migration in Europa und die damit verbundenen Vorstellungen in Frankreich
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, November 2017

Migrants in the Mediterranean: Easy and difficult solutions
Centre for European Policy Studies, October 2017

The relocation of refugees in the European Union: Implementation of solidarity and fear
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, October 2017

EU refugee policy in crisis
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, October 2017

Beyond ‘Fortress Europe’: Principles for a humane EU migration policy
Oxfam, October 2017

Models of integration in Europe
Fondation Robert Schuman, October 2017

Integration of immigrants in European labour markets
Centre for European Policy Studies, October 2017

The flexible solidarity
Policy Solutions, Foundation for European Progressive Studies, October 2017

The economic effects of refugee return and policy implications
OCP Policy Center, October 2017

Migrations : l’Europe choisit la sécurité
Confrontations Europe, October 2017

An economic lens on international migration
Center for Strategic and International Studies, October 2017

EU hotspots, relocation and absconded migrants in Italy: How to save Schengen within a failing Dublin system?
Vrije Universiteit Brussel, October 2017

Europe’s flawed thinking on Mediterranean migration
Chatham House, September 2017

‘Better migration management’: A good approach to cooperating with countries of origin and transit?
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, September 2017

Pathways towards legal migration into the EU: Reappraising concepts, trajectories and policies
Centre for European Policy Studies, September 2017

Engaging communities in refugee protection: The potential of private sponsorship in Europe
Migration Policy Institute, September 2017

Still wanted: New approaches to migration for Europe
European Council on Foreign Relations, September 2017

It’s far too early to talk of return for Syrian refugees
Chatham House, August 2017

Migration and the 2030 agenda for sustainable development
Overseas Development Institute, July 2017

European public opinion and the EU following the peak of the migration crisis
Notre Europe, July 2017

Mediterranean migrants: Little help on offer for Italy
Centre for European Policy Studies, July 2017

Unchecked migration continues to splinter Europe
Carnegie Europe, July 2017

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

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/03/09/migration-what-think-tanks-are-thinking-3/