Месечни архиви: юли 2018

A Parliament unlike any other? Academic perspectives on the European Parliament

Written by Desmond Dinan and Gaby Umbach,

A Parliament unlike any other? Academic perspectives on the EP

A Parliament unlike any other? Academic perspectives on the EP

The European Parliament (EP) has long been a magnet for academic inquiry, especially since the relance européenne of the late 1980s. While supranationalists and liberal-intergovernmentalists sparred over the reasons for the EU’s revival, a new generation of quantitative and comparative political scientists turned their attention to the conduct of legislative decision-making. They focused on the EP, seeing it as a distinctive but not necessarily unique entity, best understood by means of comparative analysis. The idea of the European Union (EU) as a complex polity, as a system of multi-level governance, grew out of this approach.

Nevertheless, a gap opened between what political scientists observed and what officials and politicians experienced. People working in the EP undoubtedly enjoyed this academic attention, although they could not always recognise themselves or their institution in the books and articles that resulted from it. The contrast between works by practitioners and academics is sometimes striking, with thick description and empirical evidence being increasingly at odds with theoretical frameworks and conceptual approaches.

The problem might not simply be the result of over-specialisation, methodological innovation, and rising barriers to academic advancement. It could also be due to excessive faith in comparativism. The EP is, indeed, a parliament, to which the tools of parliamentary studies can, and should, be applied. However, the EP is not like any other parliament. It is a supranational, directly elected body, the only one of its kind in the world. The challenges and idiosyncrasies that come with such a singular status risk being lost in highly quantitative, comparative analyses. The greatest loss may be the failure of many academic works on the EP to capture the colour, drama, and political theatre that infuse the institution.

The apparent similarity between the EP and national parliaments, which the work of comparative political science has strongly reinforced, is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, the seemingly close comparison between the EP and its national analogues helps to make the EP more familiar to European citizens, thereby strengthening the institution’s informal legitimacy. On the other hand, the evident uniqueness of the EP, which comparative studies often miss or simply pass over, undermines the same informal legitimacy.

The best approach to analyse the EP, perhaps, is to use comparative methods to the extent that they help students and scholars of the EU to understand better how the EP operates. At the same time, it behoves EU scholars to emphasise the uniqueness of the EU polity and institutional apparatus, including the EP. Otherwise, EU scholarship runs the risk of missing a vitally important point about the EP, which is, quite simply, that it is a parliament unlike any other.

Inaugural lecture

These reflections formed the backdrop against which Desmond Dinan, Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University, Virginia, USA, and the first European Parliamentary Research Service Visiting Fellow, inaugurated the new EPRS Annual Lecture series on 11 July 2018, at the EP’s Library Reading Room in Brussels. Welcomed by Anthony Teasdale, Director-General of EPRS, and introduced by Mairead McGuinness, First Vice-President of the European Parliament, Dinan presented his analysis of the development of academic research on the EP, highlighting main trends and elaborating on discernible gaps.

In his lecture, Dinan sought to draw a mental and intellectual map of EP studies. The EP, as an institution in the broadest sense, incorporating norms, values, behaviour and organisational features, forms the features on this map. Academics are the self-appointed mapmakers, who try to outline the contours of the terrain and discern the connections between different EP features. The terrain of EP studies is multi-dimensional, and requires a multi- and an inter-disciplinary approach.

In general, Dinan identified a certain critical gap between academics analysis and parliamentary practice that often did not seem to reflect the same reality. Moreover, the strong focus on quantitative research and addiction to data mining often resulted in blindness towards the impressive environment parliament offered, including its ‘soft’ features and ‘sense of theatre’ that characterised supranational parliamentary work and life. Contextualisation of results was hence often missing in quantitative approaches, making them partially myopic to the reality of EP politics.

Acknowledging that his EPRS fellowship had deepened his personal, academic, and institutional understanding of such EP characteristics, for the purpose of his lecture, Dinan adopted a temporal perspective as well as an historical institutionalist approach. He subdivided his review of historical, political science, sociological, and anthropological research on the EP into four broad periods: 1952-58, corresponding to the existence of the Common Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC); 1958-79, from the launch of the European Economic Community, and with it the European Parliamentary Assembly, to the first European Parliament elections; 1979-92; from the first elections to the Maastricht Treaty, as a result of which the EP acquired real legislative power; and the period since 1992.

The Common Assembly

A Parliament unlike any other? Academic perspectives on the EP

Mairead McGuinness, Vice-President of the European Parliament,

From 1952 to 1958, the Common Assembly became subject to academic attention in view of growing interest in European integration. The dominant perspective of this phase in political sciences was International Relations (realism and liberal internationalism being especially relevant), while subsequent studies drew on diplomatic history. These two central disciplinary perspectives were later challenged by comparative politics in the case of the former and by political, social, and cultural history in the case of the latter, when research on the EU witnessed its ‘polity-building’ turn. Social and cultural institutionalism from the anthropological and political sociology perspective added to this.

Related to the early, academically often dismissed period of European integration, researchers were particularly interested in post-war global and regional institution building. The United Nations and the Council of Europe became special reference points of analysis in this phase. The early 1950s witnessed a shift of attention towards the assemblies of these new global and regional institutions, also putting the Common Assembly of the ECSC on an academic radar that was still more populated by studies on the consultative assembly of the Council of Europe, which contemporary academics expected to become the most relevant regional institution for Europe. Research on European integration at that time was partially influenced by German academic interest in federal institution-building, at a national level in the new Federal Republic and at the supranational level in Europe.

US – or US-based – academics were especially important, thanks to generous government funding, not least because of intense interest in geostrategic developments. Ernst B. Haas, a German-born, American academic, wrote his seminal work, The Uniting of Europe (1958), following a sabbatical year studying the High Authority in Luxembourg. In this book, Haas developed the theory of neo-functionalism to explain the emergence of the European Community and predict its development. This theory posited the idea of policy spillover, and suggested that European business and political elites would gradually shift their allegiance from the national to the European level of decision-making. For that reason, Haas was extremely interested in the role of the transnational families in the Common Assembly.

Other academics at the time were drawn to the Common Assembly not only because its members organised themselves into political groups, but also because of the Common Assembly’s right to hold the High Authority to account, and the eagerness of its members to extend the Assembly’s limited powers. Indeed, the behaviour and attitude of its members was different from any other assembly of the period as, from very early onwards, they pushed hard to maximise the political influence of their dual national and European mandates, aiming to extend the competences of the newly established supranational (parliamentary) level. Early scholars of European integration realised that the Common Assembly was far more interesting and politically important than the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Subsequent historical analyses of the Common Authority bore out the assessments of the early scholars. The work of Sandro Guerrieri stands out, in particular his 2016 magnum opus, Un Parlamento oltre le nazioni. L’Assemblea comune della CECA e le sfide dell’integrazione europea (1952-1958). Two other, recent contributions by historians are also noteworthy: an article by Mechthild Roos (2017) on the EP’s gain in power, 1952- 1979, and a book by Jacob Krumrey (2018), on the symbolic politics of European integration, which includes two chapters on the Common Assembly.

The European Parliament: early years

A Parliament unlike any other? Academic perspectives on the EP

Desmond Dinan, Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University, Virginia, USA, and the first European Parliamentary Research Service Visiting Fellow

This period of initial interest in the Common Assembly was followed by a second period of research, from 1958 to 1979, which was arguably the least satisfactory for the analysis of the EP. Not many new scholars turned their attention towards the Parliament. Developments in European integration itself added to the deceleration of academic enthusiasm for the EP, and debunked the dominant theory of neo-functionalism. Specifically, the Empty Chair crisis was not only a disruptive episode for the nascent European Community (EC), but also for scholarship on European integration. From this crisis emerged Stanley Hoffmann’s article (1966) on the resilience of the nation state, which inspired a realist-intergovernmentalist perspective on the trajectory of European integration during the problematic period of the 1970s.

The economic and political setbacks of the ‘long’ 1970s led some academics to suggest that the EC had entered the ‘dark ages.’ Recently, historians have pointed out that the Community was surprisingly vibrant at that time. There were important initiatives in fields such as global development, the environment, monetary policy, and foreign policy. There were also significant institutional developments, notably the treaty changes of 1970 and 1975 granting budgetary authority to the EP; the launch of the European Council in 1975; and the decision finally to hold direct elections to the EP, which took place in 1979. The prospect of direct elections elicited considerable academic interest, including a number of general texts on the EP. As many of these academic works pointed out, however, the EP was still far from being a ‘real’ or a ‘normal’ parliament, primarily because it still lacked legislative authority.

Analysts of the first direct elections asked a question which recurs to this day, after each round of EP elections: are these elections truly European or are they really separate sets of national elections? Karlheinz Reif and Hermann Schmitt answered the question in 1980 by claiming that the first direct elections were really nine second-order national elections (the EC then had nine Member States). Subsequent academic analyses, after each round of EP elections, has confirmed this conclusion. The first European elections in 1979 were nonetheless a huge event for the European Community as a whole, and a wake-up call for scholars analysing the EP, even if this led to occasional insomnia in EP studies between election phases, rather than to a sustained interest in the EP.

Acceleration of European integration

The fortunes of the EC, and with it the EP, changed profoundly during the next period under review, from 1979 to 1992. The year ‘1992’ became a catchphrase for the revival of European integration following implementation of the Single European Act (SEA) in 1987, and the launch of the single market programme at the end of the decade. The EP contributed to the relaunch of the EC with its famous Draft Treaty on European Union, which emerged from the work of Altiero Spinelli, the veteran Euro-federalist, who formed a cross-party group of MEPs to advocate treaty change. Academics at that time continued to write about direct elections (in 1984 and again in 1989), and about the emergence of the Draft Treaty and its possible impact on the inter-governmental negotiations that resulted in the SEA. Academics also appreciated that the SEA brought about a major increase in the EP’s legislative power. Though still unique, the EP was becoming more ‘normal’.

Academic interest in the EC picked up considerably in tandem with the acceleration of European integration. There was a return to ‘grand theory’, as academics sought to explain what was happening. The most striking of these contributions was an article by Andrew Moravcsik (1991), which argued that the SEA had come about because of a convergence of domestic policy preferences for market liberalisation and integration among the EC’s three leading Member States (France, Germany, and the United Kingdom). This was the basis of Moravcsik’s theory of liberal intergovernmentalism, which he developed in his book (1998), The Choice for Europe. With the revival of grand theory, came a revival of supranationalism as a means of understanding the events of the late 1980s. After all, the activism of Commission President Jacques Delors and the momentum that was building for monetary union seemed to be classic examples of supranational entrepreneurism and policy spillover.

At the same time, historians were producing the first, major, archive-based examinations into the origins and development of the European Coal and Steel Community and, later in the 1950s, of the European Economic Community (EEC). Foremost among them were John Gillingham, whose book (1991) Coal, Steel and the Rebirth of Europe, 1945-1955: the Germans and French from Ruhr Conflict to European Community, is a masterwork of economic and diplomatic history, and Alan Milward, the ‘father’ of European integration history. Having written a book (1984) about the economic recovery of Western Europe after the Second World War, Milward wrote a widely influential book (1992) on the origins of the EEC. The thesis of the book was contained in its title: The European Rescue of the Nation-State.

Dominance of comparative politics

A Parliament unlike any other? Academic perspectives on the EP

Desmond Dinan, Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University, Virginia, USA, and the first European Parliamentary Research Service Visiting Fellow

Although Moravcsik’s liberal-intergovernmentalism and Milward’s state-centrism dominated discourse about the nascent EU, an academic earthquake was turning the study of the EU away from international relations and towards comparative politics. The two seismic events were a book (1992) edited by Alberta Sbragia, and an article (1994) written by Simon Hix. Sbragia was then a scholar of US politics, who had not previously worked on the EC. Hix was a graduate student at the European University Institute. Sbragia had become interested in the EC because of the political implications of the SEA. While on sabbatical in Washington, she invited a number of other comparative political scientists to write about the emerging EU. In the ensuing book, Euro-Politics, Sbragia urged scholars of the EU to use the tools and techniques of comparative politics to explore the nascent polity. Similarly, Hix pointed out that an international relations approach was useful for understanding the development of European integration, but a comparative politics approach was essential for understanding the EU.

Because of the emergence of the EU as a political system in the 1990s, thanks first to the SEA and then to the Maastricht Treaty, research on the EU and the EP increased greatly, and experienced a major turn towards comparative politics. The subject of analysis had morphed into a political system; to describe its character, comparison was the name of the game. Subsequent scholarship continued to focus on direct elections, but also examined in detail the EP’s involvement in the cooperation and codecision legislative procedures. Following the Amsterdam Treaty, a revised form of codecision became almost the sole focus of such research. (codecision became the ordinary legislative procedure in the Lisbon Treaty). Other topics of interest to EP scholars include the organisation and cohesiveness of the political groups; the extent to which the main groups cooperate or collude in the conduct of EP affairs; the influence of the EP in the Constitutional Convention of 2002-2003; EP input into the intergovernmental conferences resulting first in the Constitutional Treaty, and second in the Lisbon Treaty; and the behaviour of individual MEPs.

The comparative approach to EP studies brought with it a major ‘quantitative turn,’ as scholars have mined datasets of roll call votes and other information to develop their arguments and hypotheses. Although of undoubted value for the analytical depth of disciplinary and specialised research on the EP, the contribution of such studies to general knowledge of the EP remains subject to debate. As a counter-balance to such specialisation, a number of EP practitioner-scholars have written articles and books explaining to academic and interested lay readers how the EP works. Notable among these authors are Richard Corbett, who was an EP official before becoming an MEP from 1999-2009 (he was re-elected in 2014); Francis Jacobs; Michael Shackleton; and Martin Westlake, who subsequently became Secretary-General of the Economic and Social Committee.


Opening his reflections on academic research on the EP to discussion with the audience, Dinan responded to questions concerning the geographical provenience of scholars working on the EP; academic attention to the EP’s scrutiny powers; the decline and return of neo-functionalism as a grand theory; contemporary trends in grand theory; trends in interinstitutional relations; and current and possibly future developments, such as the Spitzenkandidaten process and transnational lists for EP elections.

As the lecture and discussion showed, scholarship on the EP is vibrant and remains highly relevant for understanding the course of European integration. Nevertheless, a new ‘qualitative and behavioural turn’ in research might help to provide answers to the pressing questions posed by ‘post-truth’ and ‘post-factual’ political discourse. EPRS and the academic community are ready to contribute evidence-based analysis to this new phase in research on the EP and, more broadly, on the EU.

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Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/07/23/a-parliament-unlike-any-other-academic-perspectives-on-the-european-parliament/

Latest on the digital economy [What Think Tanks are thinking]

Written by Marcin Grajewski,

DIgital economy, financial technology concept on blurred background.

© Aleksey / Fotolia

The digital revolution, which is reshaping the global economy and societies offers numerous opportunities, but also poses many challenges, thereby putting governments in a dilemma on how to shape it. While empowering individuals in many ways and spurring impressive inventions, it poses threats of cyber-attacks and privacy abuse. It also raises concern about the future of the labour and social security markets.

This note offers links to commentaries and studies on the digital economy 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 May 2017.

Meeting Europe’s connectivity challenge: The role for community networks
Centre for European Policy Studies, July 2018

Trading invisibles: Exposure of countries to GDPR
Bruegel, July 2018

No middle ground: Moving on from the crypto wars
European Council on Foreign Relations, July 2018

Quality criteria for algorithmic processes
Bertelsmann Stiftung, July 2018

Game over? Europe’s cyber problem
Centre for European Reform, July 2018

Women, technology and entrepreneurship: How European women use technology to get ahead and why it matters for Europe as a whole
Lisbon Council, June 2018

Protecting Europe against software vulnerabilities: It’s time to act!
Centre for European Policy Studies, June 2018

10 trends shaping innovation in the digital age
European Political Strategy Centre, May 2018

The global debate on the future of Artificial Intelligence
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, May 2018

Missions for EU innovation policy: Why the right set-up matters
Jacques Delors Institute, Berlin, May 2018

How big is China’s digital economy?
Bruegel, May 2018

Takes two to tax: On fair taxation of the digital economy
Jacques Delors Institute, Berlin, May 2018

Attribution in cyberspace: Beyond the “Whodunnit”
GLOBSEC Policy Institute, May 2018

Bei bester Gesundheit? Deutschlands E-Health im Check-up: Zukunftsplattform Bayern: Digitales Gesundheitswesen 2020
Hanns Seidel Stiftung, May 2018

What Europe needs to create more Spotifys
Centre for European Policy Studies, May 2018

How to manage successfully citizen consultations on Europe in the digital age?
Jacques Delors Institute, Berlin, May 2018

Data governance in the digital age
Centre for International Governance Innovation, May 2018

Automation and the future of work: scenarios and policy options
Centre for International Governance Innovation, May 2018

Industry 4.0 and European innovation policy: Big plans, small steps
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, May 2018

The ethics of artificial intelligence: How AI can end discrimination and make the world a smarter, better place
Lisbon Council, May 2018

How e-commerce reshapes markets and firms’ strategies
Bruegel, May 2018

Russian election interference: Europe’s counter to fake news and cyber attacks
Carnegie Europe, May 2018

The smart state
Policy Exchange, May 2018

Making America first in the digital economy: The case for engaging Europe
Atlantic Council, May 2018

The case for a transatlantic AI centre of excellence
GLOBSEC Policy Institute, May 2018

Digital Australia: An economic and trade agenda
Brookings Institution, May 2018

The invisible silk road: Enter the digital dragon
European Institute for Asian Studies, May 2018

Of Facebook revolutions and Twitter presidents: How digitalisation changes political decision-making
Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, April 2018

Fair working conditions for platform workers
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, April 2018

Cost and Value in banks: A model fit for the digital era?
Centre for European Policy Studies, April 2018

Are European firms falling behind in the global corporate research race?
Bruegel, April 2018

Rules for robots: Why we need a digital magna carta or the age of intelligent machines
Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, April 2018

Of streams of data, thought, and other things: Digitalisation, energy policy, and innovation capacity from an Asian perspective
Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, April 2018

More than just bitcoin: The potential of blockchain technology, using the example of Latin America
Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, April 2018

Économie collaborative: Comment encadrer et encourager le pouvoir de la “multitude”?
Terra Nova, March 2018

How local government reform is key to Europe’s digital success
Lisbon Council, March 2018

Regulating for a digital economy: Understanding the importance of cross-border data flows in Asia
Brookings Institution, March 2018

Digital trade: Is data treaty-ready?
Centre for International Governance Innovation, February 2018

The application of artificial intelligence at Chinese digital platform giants: Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent
Research Institute of the Finnish Economy, February 2018

The Internet and jobs: Opportunities and ambiguous trends
Centre for European Policy Studies, February 2018

Digital health: How can the EU help make the most out of it?
European Policy Centre, January 2018

The known traveller: Unlocking the potential of digital identity for secure and seamless travel
World Economic Forum, January 2018

Supporting press publishers in a digital era
European Policy Centre, January 2018

Cyber-diplomacy: The making of an international society in the digital age
Egmont, January 2018

Perspectives Asia: Digital Asia
Heinrich Böll Stiftung, January 2018

Who governs the Internet?
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, January 2018

Read this briefing on ‘Latest on the digital economy‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/07/23/latest-on-the-digital-economy-what-think-tanks-are-thinking/

Bus drivers [What Europe does for you]

With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for bus drivers.

Bus and coach travel plays a significant role in the daily life of many Europeans. In 2015, over 8 % of all passengers made use of these services, compared with 9.8 % for air transport and 6.7 % for rail. In 2014, there were over 361 000 road passenger transport enterprises in the EU. European roads are the safest in the world and the EU is striving to move closer to zero fatalities in road transport by 2050.

Twitter Hashtag #EUandME

Bus driver

© Jörg Hüttenhölscher / Fotolia

People wishing to work as bus or truck drivers undergo compulsory initial training. Subsequently, every five years professionals go through in-service training to update and refresh their skills and to renew their licences, which have a uniform validity. A medical check-up is a compulsory part of each renewal. The drivers’ training system is designed to increase their awareness of risks and ways to mitigate them. In 2018, the EU updated its rules on training for professional drivers, placing an emphasis on safety and the environment, easier recognition of training received in another EU country, and clearer minimum age requirements.

As tiredness is a major factor in 20 % of road accidents involving heavy commercial vehicles, the EU has standardised the time professional drivers can spend behind the wheel when part or all of the journey is in another EU country. This time should not exceed nine hours a day or 56 hours a week. Furthermore, drivers are obliged to take a break of at least 45 minutes after four and a half hours of driving.

Further information

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/07/23/bus-drivers-what-europe-does-for-you/

Revision of the European Electronic Tolling Service (EETS) Directive [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Ariane Debyser (1st edition),

The highway between woods, in the middle of the highway electronic toll gates, three moving trucks, in the distance Bridges

© am / Fotolia

On 31 May 2017, the Commission adopted a proposal for a directive on the interoperability of electronic road toll systems and facilitating cross-border exchange of information on the failure to pay road fees in the Union. It was presented within the context of the Commission’s first ‘Europe on the Move’ package that seeks to modernise mobility and transport.

Tying in with the 2015 energy union strategy and the Commission’s 2016 European strategy for low‑emission mobility, and announced in the 2017 Commission work programme, the revision of the European Electronic Tolling Service (EETS) was presented together with the revision of the directive on the charging of heavy goods vehicles for the use of certain infrastructures (the Eurovignette Directive).

In June 2018, both Parliament and Council adopted their positions on the Commission’s proposal, opening the way for interinstitutional (trilogue) negotiations to begin.



Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/07/20/revision-of-the-european-electronic-tolling-service-eets-directive-eu-legislation-in-progress/

European Regional Development Fund and Cohesion Fund 2021-2027 [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Agnieszka Widuto (1st edition),

Florence (Firenze) cityscape, Italy.

© waku / Fotolia

In preparation for the upcoming Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021-2027, the European Commission published a proposal for a regulation on the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund (CF) on 29 May 2018. The new single regulation on the ERDF and CF (previously covered by two separate regulations) identifies the specific objectives and scope of support for both funds, including non-eligible activities. In line with evidence regarding impact, investments will focus on activities with the highest added value, such as support for SMEs, smart specialisation, the low carbon economy, sustainable urban development and regional cooperation. The ERDF will focus mainly on smart growth and the green economy, and the CF on environmental and transport infrastructure. A special approach is adopted for territories such as urban areas and outermost regions. The indicator framework for monitoring progress will include new common results indicators. At the European Parliament, the file has been allocated to the Committee on Regional Development, with Andrea Cozzolino (S&D, Italy) as rapporteur. The rapporteur’s draft report is expected in the autumn.


Stage: Commission proposal

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/07/19/european-regional-development-fund-and-cohesion-fund-2021-2027-eu-legislation-in-progress/

Introducing the definitive VAT system for B2B cross-border trade [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Ana Claudia Alfieri (1st edition),

Important of VAT, tax in buy and sell business, colorful arrows pointing to the word VAT at the center on black cement wall, financial income have to pay government tax by law.

© Nuthawut / Fotolia

Value added tax (VAT) is an important source of revenue for national governments and the European Union (EU) budget and, from an economic point of view, it is a very efficient consumption tax. However, the existing rules governing intra-Community trade are 25 years old and the current common EU VAT system presents such problems as vulnerability to fraud, high compliance costs for businesses and also a heavy administrative burden for national authorities.

The reform of the system is planned in several consecutive steps, first for goods and then for services, and will take some years. This proposal introduces the basic features of the definite VAT system for business-to-business (B2B) transactions of goods and aims to harmonise and simplify certain rules of the current VAT system, by amending the VAT Directive (Directive 2006/112/EC).


Stage: National Parliaments opinion

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/07/19/introducing-the-definitive-vat-system-for-b2b-cross-border-trade-eu-legislation-in-progress/

More flexible VAT rates [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Ana Claudia Alfieri (1st edition),

VAT Concept with wooden block with stacked coins

© Art_Photo / Fotolia

Value added tax (VAT) is an important source of revenue for national governments and the European Union (EU) budget and, from an economic point of view, a very efficient consumption tax. However, the rules governing value added tax as applied to intra-Community trade are 25 years old and the current common EU VAT system is both complicated and vulnerable to fraud. Businesses doing cross-border trade face high compliance costs and the administrative burden of national tax administrations is also excessive.

The reform towards the definitive system is planned in several consecutive steps and will take some years. In the meantime, this proposal will amend the VAT Directive (Directive 2006/112/EC) and reform the rules by which Member States set VAT rates. The reform will enter into force when the definitive system is in place; it will give more flexibility to Member States to set VAT rates and will end the current arrangements and their many ad-hoc derogations.


Stage: National Parliaments opinion

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/07/18/more-flexible-vat-rates-eu-legislation-in-progress/

EPRS conference: EU needs policy overhaul to spur disruptive innovation

Written by Marcin Grajewski,

harnessing disruptive technologyThe European Union lags behind the United States and China in fostering disruptive technology and needs a policy overhaul to catch up with, or even leapfrog, its rivals. Spending on research and development by the EU and its Member States should be streamlined, more agile and, above all, funds should be disbursed much faster than at present, notably to start-up companies. A risk-taking bias should replace a sometimes over-cautious attitude on the part of programme managers. These were some key messages from analysts and industry practitioners speaking at a conference on ‘Harnessing disruptive technologies: Converting EU research into successful start-ups’, organised by the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) on 10 July 2018 in the European Parliament’s Library Room.

‘The EU, and indeed the Member States, spend a lot of money on promoting research of various kinds, and the question is how to make sure that as much of it as possible can be commercialised in a way that adds over time to GDP. There is a general perception that Europe is less successful than some of its competitors in doing so,’ said EPRS Director-General, Anthony Teasdale, opening the debate.

Dr Alexander Waibel

Dr Alexander Waibel

Indeed, the EU is good at funding basic research and incrementally improving traditional engineering-based industries, but its achievements in information technology, artificial intelligence and creating the environment for innovative start-ups to flourish is less impressive, said Dr Alexander Waibel, Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany. ‘Europe is doing a fantastic job in basic sciences, fundamental research programmes in physics, chemistry and human brain projects. We have companies that are the envy of the world, manufacturing products of a quality that no one can match’, he said.

However, ‘future growth and the economy’s ability to create jobs lies elsewhere’, Waibel added. ‘Disruption is absolutely key for society. Famous investor, Warren Buffet, once said: first come the innovators, then come the imitators, and then come the idiots. Uber, Google, Apple Facebook, they all in some way disrupted the way we do things and now dominate the market.’

The EU is spending considerable sums on research and development as part of its GDP. In Germany, the ratio is higher than in the USA.

However, André Loesekrug-Pietri, former venture capital investor and then adviser to the French government, noted that no European company is among the world’s 10 top firms in terms of market capitalisation. The market capitalisation of the seven largest platforms (four American, and three Chinese), is four times higher than the same parameter for the 30 biggest German and 40 largest French companies. China accounts for 48 % of investment in artificial intelligence, the US for 38 %, and the rest of the world, including the EU, for 14 %. This is because the current IT-based economy creates a ‘winner takes all’ market for the best conceived disruptive innovations.

André Loesekrug-Pietri

André Loesekrug-Pietri

To be able to compete in this area, the EU and its Member States need to reform their system of awarding research grants. ‘We are too much focused on research papers. No venture capitalist is interested in research paper, we need prototypes,’ said Loesekrug-Pietri. In the current, fast-changing world, speed is of the essence. Project submissions should be 10 pages long, rather than 120, as is the case at present, and reviewed in six weeks by temporarily hired scientists acting as project managers, rather than by civil servants. A winner would receive funding swiftly, but it would face tough regular scrutiny on progress.

This is how the major US innovation incubator, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) works. DARPA is responsible for the development of emerging technologies for military and later civilian use. With a current budget of some $3.4 billion, it has 240 employees. DARPA was responsible for inventions such as the internet, global positioning systems, or driverless vehicles. Waibel listed some commandments for a DARPA-destined project. An applicant needs to answer questions as to: what they are trying to do, without any jargon; what the limits of current practice are; who cares if you are successful; what the risks and payoffs are; how much it will cost; how long it will take to implement; what the ‘mid-term and final exams’ for success are.

Both Waibel and Loesekrug-Pietri agreed that creating a European DARPA is worth considering, although the former advocated a pan-EU approach, while the latter said a few most committed countries should first launch the project. Loesekrug-Pietri is now the speaker of the Joint European Disruptive Initiative (JEDI), a private-public project aimed at accelerating French and German leadership in disruptive innovation.

The EPRS’ Head of the Scientific Foresight Service, Lieve Van Woensel, stressed that the EP attaches great importance to innovation, and its members are well briefed on the issue, to address the numerous concerns of ordinary people regarding the speed of technological change.

‘Disruption is about individual creativity. At the beginning of many disruptive technologies, we have an individual daring to do what others thought impossible, daring to test what others thought not worth testing’, concluded Franck Debié, the Acting Head of the Innovation and Project Management Unit in the EP.

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Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/07/18/eprs-conference-eu-needs-policy-overhaul-to-spur-disruptive-innovation/

Security of ID cards and of residence documents issued to EU citizens and their families

Written by Katharina Eisele with Anne van Heijst,

it gives a young man ID - carte d'identit nationale

© Mike Fouque / Fotolia

This briefing provides an initial analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the European Commission’s impact assessment (IA) accompanying the above-mentioned proposal, submitted on 17 April 2018 and referred to the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE).

Currently, there are at least 86 different versions of identity cards (ID cards) and 181 types of residence documents in circulation in the EU. The Free Movement Directive (2004/38/EC) stipulates the conditions that EU citizens and their third-country-national family members need to meet in order to exercise their right of free movement and residence within the Union. However, it does not regulate the format and minimum standards for the ID cards and residence documents to be used for entering or leaving an EU Member State (IA, pp. 9-10). This proposal aims to strengthen the security features of ID cards and residence documents of EU citizens and their non-EU family members. Passports and travel document issued by Member States are already regulated by EU law.

Directive 2004/38/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States amending Regulation (EEC) No 1612/68 and repealing Directives 64/221/EEC, 68/360/EEC, 72/194/EEC, 73/148/EEC, 75/34/EEC, 75/35/EEC, 90/364/EEC, 90/365/EEC and 93/96/EEC.

See also the European Commission’s inception impact assessment of 6 September 2017.

Read the complete briefing on ‘Security of ID cards and of residence documents issued to EU citizens and their families‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/07/16/security-of-id-cards-and-of-residence-documents-issued-to-eu-citizens-and-their-families/

Tables rondes à Niamey : Numérique, eau et agriculture, et énergies renouvelables

Écrit par Etienne Bassot,

Le Président du Parlement européen se rendra au Niger les 17 et 18 juillet.EPRS mobilisé pour appuyer la visite du président Tajani au Niger : tables-rondes à Niamey sur la recherche en matière de numérique, d’eau et d’agriculture, et d’énergies renouvelables

Le Président du Parlement européen se rendra au Niger les 17 et 18 juillet. Une nouveauté totale pour ce genre de déplacement : il a tenu à ce que sa visite comporte un important volet dédié à la recherche et que s’engagent un dialogue et une réflexion sur les expériences de l’Europe, les expériences du Niger, les enjeux et les défis communs, les réponses possibles. Autour de trois tables-rondes, les chercheurs et experts de haut niveau d’Europe et d’Afrique vont échanger leurs expériences sur la transformation numérique, l’agriculture et la gestion de l’eau, et les énergies renouvelables.

Transformation numérique

Les technologies de l’information et de la communication (TIC) apparaissent aujourd’hui comme un maillon clé du développement durable. Le Niger a adopté récemment un Plan stratégique sur les technologies de l’information et de la communication autour de plusieurs axes stratégiques : e-gouvernement, villages intelligents, cité de l’innovation, et promotion du numérique. La mise en œuvre de la stratégie numérique pour l’Europe initiée en 2010 dans l’Union européenne a été réalisée en partie – avec le développement des réseaux et services numériques et l’amélioration de l’accès aux biens et services numériques pour les citoyens, consommateurs et les entreprises – mais de nouveaux défis liés au développement de la société de l’information apparaissent. La table-ronde ‘Transformation numérique’ sera l’occasion de croiser les expériences et points de vues entre experts nigériens, européens et internationaux en discutant des enjeux, défis, contraintes et réponses réglementaires, notamment en matière de commerce électronique et de formation au numérique.

Agriculture et gestion de l’eau

Le panel ‘agriculture et gestion de l’eau’ discutera les défis rencontrés par le secteur agricole qui doit à la fois gérer les ressources naturelles – l’eau en particulier – tout en assurant la production alimentaire et le maintien des territoires ruraux. La politique agricole commune (PAC) est l’une des politiques les plus emblématiques ayant marqué le processus d’intégration à l’Union européenne depuis ses débuts dans les années 1960 jusqu’à aujourd’hui. L’Union Européenne s’efforce d’adapter cette politique aux nouveaux défis. Dans ce contexte, la recherche et l’innovation sont considérées comme des éléments clés de la gestion durable des ressources naturelles. Ce dernier point est décisif pour maximiser l’impact du secteur agricole du Niger sur la réduction de la pauvreté. De plus, mobiliser les ressources en eau en vue de sécuriser les différentes productions est une des lignes d’intervention prioritaires dans la stratégie de développement rural du Niger. Le partage des résultats de la recherche et des réussites en matière d’innovation peut bénéficier à la fois à l’Europe et au Niger. Les orateurs discuteront des exemples concrets de recherche menée en Europe et en Afrique et des projets réalisés au Niger sur la thématique de la gestion de l’eau dans l’agriculture.

Énergies renouvelables

Les énergies renouvelables, comme l’éolien et le solaire peuvent aider à réduire la dépendance en matière d’importations d’énergie, réduire la pollution et lutter contre les effets du changement climatique. L’Union européenne soutient les énergies renouvelables dans tous les secteurs économiques et s’est fixé l’objectif d’atteindre une part de marché de 32 % d’énergie renouvelable pour 2030. Pour le Niger, les énergies renouvelables peuvent contribuer à améliorer l’accès à l’énergie, par le réseau électrique ou par les solutions ‘off-grid’ (hors réseau). Lors de la table ronde, des experts vont aborder les thèmes suivants : le potentiel et les bénéfices des énergies renouvelables, le cadre réglementaire, les expériences et les plans pour l’avenir en Europe et au Niger, l’état du développement des énergies renouvelables en Afrique de l’Ouest, les obstacles rencontrés ainsi que les conditions de succès – y compris le financement – pour leur déploiement.

Pour en savoir plus

Promotion des sources d’énergie renouvelables dans l’UE, EPRS, analyse approfondie, 2016

Financer la transition vers les énergies propres en Europe, EPRS, briefing, 2017

Énergies renouvelables, PE, fiche technique, 2018

L’innovation dans l’agriculture de l’Union européenne EPRS En bref 2016

Solutions technologiques pour une agriculture durable EPRS En bref 2016

L’agriculture de précision et l’avenir de l’agriculture en Europe. Étude de prospective scientifique EPRS, étude, 2016

Une stratégie numérique pour L’Europe, PE, fiche technique, Mai 2018

S’adapter aux nouvelles réalités numériques, EPRS briefing 2018 (traduction en FR imprimée)

L’économie européenne des applis : Situation actuelle, enjeux et politique de l’Union, EPRS briefing 2018

Vers une société européenne du gigabit : Objectifs en matière de connectivité et de 5G, EPRS briefing 2017

Preparing FP9: Designing the successor to the Horizon 2020 research and innovation framework programme, EPRS analyse approfondie (traduction en FR imprimée)

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/07/16/tables-rondes-a-niamey-numerique-eau-et-agriculture-et-energies-renouvelables/