Месечни архиви: October 2018

EPRS workshop: the view of early career researchers on the EU’s post-2020 cohesion policy proposals

Written by Christiaan van Lierop, 

Master Class of the European Week of Regions and Cities Master Class of the European Week of Regions and Cities

Outreach with experts and the wider policy-making community represents a key part of our work here at the EPRS. That’s why we were delighted to be involved once again in the organisation of a specialist workshop as part of the European Week of Regions and Cities’ Master Class for early career researchers, which took place in Brussels from 8 to 11 October 2018.

This year’s workshop brought together 30 early career researchers from across the EU, specially chosen thanks to their expertise in regional policy. With the negotiations on the post-2020 EU cohesion package well underway, our workshop focused on three of the main legislative proposals under the future cohesion policy framework: the common provision regulation, the regulation on the European Regional Development Fund and the Cohesion Fund, and the regulation on European territorial cooperation (Interreg). Building on the successful formula used in previous years, EPRS experts outlined the main challenges at stake in each of the proposals before handing over to the workshop participants for their input. Discussions were organised around three tables, one for each legislative proposal, with participants asked to take part in the debate at each table in turn, providing everyone with the opportunity to engage in the discussions on each proposal. This elicited a number of key findings, set out below.

Common provisions regulation

Master Class of the European Week of Regions and Cities VAN LIEROP Christiaan, EPRS

Participants considered that there was a need to identify alternative indicators beyond GDP and called for more simplification in programming rules, noting that although bureaucracy should be simplified, Member States still needed to be able to set their own rules, taking local circumstances into account. In this context, they highlighted the importance of empowering local stakeholders, to enable them to be more involved in decision-making about the content of operational programmes. Participants also stressed the need for more data transparency particularly in the case of micro-level data, and for more post-project evaluation.

ERDF and CF regulation

The workshop found that more clarification was needed regarding thematic concentration, and called for the use of a differentiated approach, aligned with country priorities, rather than a ‘one-size fits all’ model. In terms of the choice of indicators used to report results, participants questioned the need to focus on quantitative indicators, noting that qualitative indicators were missing when measuring cohesion processes. In particular, they felt that there was a lack of correlation between output and results, with a linear logic often not visible. Participants also called for a clearer definition of the terms ‘innovation’ and ‘smart’, which were potentially confusing and could lead to misunderstandings when applied.

European territorial cooperation (ETC) regulation

Master Class of the European Week of Regions and Cities SAPALA Magdalena, EPRS

Given the symbolic importance of ETC for the European project, participants questioned why only 2.5 % of the cohesion policy budget had been allocated to the Interreg goal, calling for it to be increased to 5 %. They also criticised the reduction to 52.7 % in the share of ETC resources allocated to cross-border cooperation, as well as the proposed reduction in the EU co-financing rate for Interreg projects from 85 % to 70 %. Participants felt that this reduction could put the participation of less developed countries at risk, calling for the 85 % rate to be retained for projects involving less developed countries, including candidate or other non-EU countries.

This Master Class for early career researchers provided interesting food for thought and an insightful and timely contribution to the current debate.

Master Class of the European Week of Regions and Cities MARGARAS Vasileios, EPRS

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/10/29/eprs-workshop-the-view-of-early-career-researchers-on-the-eus-post-2020-cohesion-policy-proposals/

Plenary round-up – Strasbourg, October II 2018

Written by Katarzyna Sochacka and Clare Ferguson,

EP plenary session - Debate with the President of Romania on the Future of Europe

© European Union 2018 – Source : EP

The highlights of the October II plenary session were the debate on the conclusions of the European Council meeting on 17 and 18 October 2018 and the presentation of the European Commission’s 2019 work programme, the last of the current legislature. Parliament also held debates on the use of Facebook users’ data by Cambridge Analytica and its impact on data protection, and the Cum-Ex trading scandal. The series of debates on the Future of Europe continued, this time with Klaus Iohannis, President of Romania, urging European unity. Parliament voted on legislative proposals, inter alia, on drinking water; marine litter; the Schengen Information System; import of cultural goods; veterinary medicinal products; charging of heavy goods vehicles; and energy-efficient road transport vehicles. Members also adopted Parliament’s position on the EU general budget for 2019 and declined to grant discharge for the 2016 budget to the European Council and Council.

Quality of water intended for human consumption

Members debated and adopted a position on proposals to improve EU water quality standards through a revision of the Drinking Water Directive (by 300 votes to 98, but with 274 abstentions). Over 98.5 % of drinking water tested in the EU meets the standards today. However, not least in response to the first successful European Citizens’ Initiative, ‘Right2Water’, Members want to improve the quality of tap water, promote access for all European citizens to clean and safe water, and encourage consumers to drink tap water, which is much cheaper than bottled water and better for the environment. Measures approved include reducing toxic substance levels, and incentives to provide free water in public places and restaurants. Interinstitutional negotiations can begin once the Council reaches a position on the file.

Reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment

Marine litter, most of which is plastic, is a major threat to marine and coastal biodiversity with significant socio-economic impacts. Parliament adopted its position on the Commission’s proposal to reduce marine litter: single-use plastics and fishing gear by a large majority (571 votes to 53, 34 abstentions). The measures target the top 10 single-use plastics found on European beaches, as well as fishing gear.

Import of cultural goods

While no EU legislation currently exists on the import of cultural goods (except from Iraq and Syria), Parliament backed proposals to simplify EU customs rules, and to ensure that trade operators and buyers can be certain of the legality of the artefacts they purchase. Parliament is aiming to strike a balance between curbing the illegal import of cultural goods, particularly in view of their sale to finance terrorism, and avoiding a disproportionate burden for licit art market operators and customs authorities.

Charging of heavy goods vehicles for use of certain infrastructures

The EP is keen to apply the ‘user’ and ‘polluter pays’ principles in transport, particularly in the charging of heavy goods vehicles for using road infrastructure. Parliament adopted its position on the ‘Eurovignette’ report pushing for greater harmonisation of the currently ineffective road toll charges for such vehicles, by a large majority (398 for, 179 against and 32 abstentions). Parliament thus amended the mandate of the Transport and Tourism Committee which had been confirmed during the June 2018 plenary session. Interinstitutional negotiations can begin once the Council has reached its position on the proposal.

Promotion of clean and energy-efficient road transport vehicles

Parliament debated and adopted an Environment, Public Health & Food Safety committee report on proposed measures aiming to encourage the promotion of clean and energy-efficient vehicles for use by public services – which has met with limited success to date. The committee can begin interinstitutional negotiations once the Council has reached a position.

Schengen Information System

Following an informal agreement with the Council on a package of measures on the use of the Schengen Information System, Members discussed and voted on three reports on proposed regulations on the use of the database. Conscious of EU citizens’ demands to better address migration and security challenges, and to counter terrorism and serious crime in the EU, Parliament is however, also determined not to strengthen security measures at the expense of safe treatment of personal data. It is in favour of stronger centralisation of data such as fingerprints, and calls for further harmonisation of alerts on refusals of entry to the Schengen area. Members are also concerned about the ineffectiveness of the current EU policy on returning unsuccessful asylum candidates to third countries. The measures now await final approval by the Council.

Veterinary medicinal products

Three texts agreed with the Council in trilogue on authorisation and supervision of medicinal products for human and veterinary use, on veterinary medicinal products, and on medicated feed, were debated and adopted. The animal medicines package includes improved rules on authorisation of medicinal products for human and animal use, veterinary medicinal products and the manufacture, sale and use of medicated feed. The changes to the current framework seek to ensure that medicines are used when needed, without abuse leading to, for instance, raised antimicrobial resistance. Parliament insists that EU food standards are reciprocal, and that trading partners respect EU rules on antibiotics and antimicrobials that aim to protect citizens’ health. The Council will now give final approval to the three acts.

COP24 and COP14

Following a joint debate on the EU’s position in advance of the UN Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland (COP24) and the 14th meeting of the Convention of Biological Diversity (COP14), Members adopted a resolution (by 239 votes to 145 with 23 abstentions). A key supporter of the Paris Agreement, Parliament seeks significant progress, including raising the EU emissions reduction target from 40 % to 55 % by 2030 and pursuing the more ambitious limit for a global temperature rise target of 1.5°C.

General budget of the European Union for 2019

Parliament decided to amend the Council’s position on the 2019 draft EU budget. The adopted report reverses almost all of the cuts proposed by the Council. Furthermore, it increases appropriations for a number of Parliament’s priorities linked to sustainable growth, competitiveness, security, migration and young people, and reduces the EU budget contribution to financing of the Facility for Refugees in Turkey. With the Council subsequently notifying that it cannot accept all Parliament’s amendments, the three-week conciliation period for the two institutions to seek common ground will start on 30 October.

Discharge 2016: EU general budget – European Council and Council

Parliament debated and adopted resolutions, following second Budgetary Control Committee reports on the remaining EU institutions awaiting budgetary discharge for 2016. As in previous years, Parliament insists that the expenditure of all EU institutions is scrutinised in exactly the same way, and accordingly refused to grant discharge to the Council and the European Council, due to the ongoing lack of transparency in spending, particularly on buildings. It also refused discharge to the European Asylum Support Office.

EFSI Management appointments

The renewal of the appointment of Wilhelm Molterer (Austria) and Iliyana Tsanova (Bulgaria) to the posts of Executive Director and Deputy Executive Director, respectively, at the investment committee of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the financial arm of the ‘Juncker’ plan, was approved. Both candidates, in position since October 2015, saw their mandates renewed for a second period of three years.

Opening of trilogue negotiations

Six parliamentary committee decisions (from TRAN, IMCO, INTA LIBE) to enter into interinstitutional (trilogue) negotiations were confirmed. Only one vote was held, on an AGRI committee report on unfair trading practices in business-to-business relationships, where the committee’s decision to enter into intersintitutional negotiations was approved.

Read this ‘At a glance’ note on ‘Plenary round-up – Strasbourg, October I 2018‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/10/29/plenary-round-up-strasbourg-october-ii-2018/

Victims of cyberbullying [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 victims of cyberbullying.


Twitter Hashtag #EUandME


Cyberbullying is verbal or psychological harassment carried out via electronic means of communication, usually repetitively and mostly via social media. It can take various forms such as insults, threats and intimidation, gossip, exclusion, stalking or identity theft. The internet offers anonymity and a sense of impunity to perpetrators, and aggravates the victimisation, as the harmful content is spread instantly to a far wider audience. While cyberbullying also affects adults, it occurs at an alarming rate among children and young people.

Picture of despair scared girl suffering from electronic aggression

© Photographee.eu / Fotolia

One problem with cyberbullying is that information remains online for a long time and can be difficult to remove. New EU data protection rules introduced a ‘right to be forgotten’ that allows victims to request the erasure of their personal data. There is no specific EU law on cyberbullying but some aspects are covered, for instance expressions of racism or xenophobia or sexual harassment of a victim under 18. Europe is also funding action on the ground to prevent violence against women, children and young people (including online). To protect children and teenagers and arm them with the skills and tools they need to use the internet safely and responsibly, the EU has adopted a Better Internet for Kids strategy and co-funds Safer Internet Centres in all EU countries (forming a pan-European network – Insafe). Each national centre operates a helpline, providing advice and assistance for children and teenagers confronted with harmful online content or conduct (cyberbullying is the main reason for contacting helplines).

Further information

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/10/28/victims-of-cyberbullying-what-europe-does-for-you/

Victims of cybercrime [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 victims of cybercrime.


Twitter Hashtag #EUandME


Like 70 % of EU citizens you probably use the internet every day. Maybe you are one of the 86 % of Europeans feeling increasingly worried about cybercrime. Indeed the scale and sophistication of cyber-attacks have reached unprecedented levels. In some European countries, cybercrime accounts for half of all crimes committed.

Cybercrime takes various forms. Criminals can gain control over your devices using malware, with ransomware attacks being one of the main threats. They can steal or compromise your data and your identity, notably to commit online fraud. They also use Darknet to sell illicit goods and hacking services. Some cybercrimes, such as child sexual exploitation, cause serious harm to their victims.

Two worried roommates having problems buying on line sitting on a couch in the living room in a house interior

© Antonioguillem / Fotolia

To prevent and combat cybercrime, the European Union has developed a comprehensive cybersecurity policy (which has been undergoing an ambitious reform since 2017). A new cybersecurity law designed to enhance Europe’s cyber-resilience entered into force in May 2018. Specific EU laws criminalise online child abuse, attacks against information systems and non-cash payment fraud. A European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) helps EU countries to investigate online crimes and dismantle criminal networks. Together with private partners, the EC3 launched an initiative to help victims of ransomware to regain access without paying: www.nomoreransom.org. Through its Internal Security Fund, meanwhile, the EU contributes to the fight against cybercrime by funding concrete action around the EU (training, operational cooperation, the acquisition of equipment and setting up of IT systems).

Further information

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/10/28/victims-of-cybercrime-what-europe-does-for-you/

Migrant children [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 migrant children.


Twitter Hashtag #EUandME


Children are particularly vulnerable during migration, and need careful protection against the dangers of people trafficking and abuse. The number of children arriving from third countries in the EU has increased significantly, particularly since the migratory crisis in 2015. About one in four people currently seeking asylum in the EU are children. In April 2017, the European Commission proposed to reinforce the protection of all migrant children at all stages of the migration process, complementing national efforts in this area.

Flüchtlinge

© Lydia Geissler / Fotolia

The proposed measures include: swift identification and protection upon arrival; adequate reception conditions for children; rapid status determination and effective guardianship; durable solutions for early integration; and addressing root causes and protecting children along migrant routes outside the EU. Current proposals to reform the common European asylum system and strengthen EU borders contain specific provisions on the protection of children. For example, a new Schengen alert will be created for ‘missing children’ to enable authorities to identify such cases.

Education plays an essential role in preparing immigrant children to participate in society and the labour market. The European Commission facilitates the exchange of good practices on integrating migrants, and funds projects promoting inclusive education. Giving migrant children opportunities to fully develop their potential is vital for future EU economic growth and social cohesion.

Further information

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/10/27/migrant-children-what-europe-does-for-you/

Human rights defenders [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 human rights defenders.


Twitter Hashtag #EUandME


If you care about human rights and you want the EU to support human rights activists around the world you might be interested to know about the ways the European Union upholds and safeguards human rights standards as part of its external action.

Empowering women power, human rights and labor day concept with strong fist hands and world map background

© Chinnapong / Fotolia

The European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) is aimed at preserving values such as democracy, the rule of law, the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and respect for human dignity. One of the programme’s priorities is to support for human rights and human rights defenders in situations where they are most at risk. Between €200 and 250 million or 20‑25 % of the overall EIDHR budget for 2014 to 2020 has been allocated for funding and providing support for human rights defenders.

The EIDHR provides support for human rights defenders through local programmes, especially when it comes to the rights of vulnerable groups. The EIDHR also provides material and nonmaterial support for numerous human rights defenders, for example psychological assistance, relocation due to immediate risk or training workshops to overcome security challenges. After identifying activists in danger or stress, a platform of national, regional and international organisations committed to programmes for the temporary relocation of human rights defenders arranges temporary shelter for them providing protection and capacity-building opportunities.

Further information

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/10/27/human-rights-defenders-what-europe-does-for-you/

Cybersecurity [What Think Tanks are thinking]

Written by Marcin Grajewski,

Cyber security network concept. Master key connect virtual networking graphic and blur laptop with flare light effect

© zapp2photo / Fotolia

Cybersecurity was back in the spotlight earlier in October, when several Western countries issued a coordinated denunciation of Russia, accusing it of running a global hacking campaign. Moscow denied the allegations. On 4 October, the UK and the Netherlands accused Moscow of sending agents to The Hague to hack into the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, while the United States indicted suspected Russian agents for conspiring to hack computers and steal data to delegitimise international anti-doping organisations. They were also accused of trying to hack into Westinghouse Electric, a nuclear power company.

Russia and other countries had earlier been accused of cyber-espionage, proliferation of fake news, and misuse of social media in some election campaigns. Cybersecurity can be defined as the protection of computer systems and mobile devices from theft and damage to their hardware, software or information, as well as from disruption or misdirection of the services they provide.

This note offers links to reports and commentaries from major international think-tanks and research institutes on cyber-security and related issues. More reports on the topic can be found in a previous edition of ‘What Think Tanks are thinking’, published in April 2018.

Hacks, leaks and disruptions: Russian cyber strategies
European Union Institute for Security Studies, October 2018

Intelligence artificielle: Vers une nouvelle révolution militaire?
Institut français des relations internationales, October 2018

The future of financial stability and cyber risk
Brookings Institution, October 2018

Disinformation on steroids
Council on Foreign Relations, October 2018

Olympic-caliber cybersecurity: Lessons for safeguarding the 2020 Games and other major events
Rand Corporation, October 2018

Sharing is caring: The United States’ new cyber commitment for NATO
Council on Foreign Relations, October 2018

Extending federal cybersecurity to the endpoint
Center for Strategic and International Studies, October 2018

Shifting borders and new technological frontiers: The case of Italy
Istituto Affari Internazionali, September 2018

Is China still stealing Western intellectual property?
Council on Foreign Relations, September 2018

Defining Russian election interference: An analysis of select 2014 to 2018 cyber enabled incidents
Atlantic Council, September 2018

Facebook, Twitter, and the challenge from Washington
Council on Foreign Relations, September 2018

Who’s afraid of a digital planet?
Brookings Institution, September 2018

Tech companies must do more to secure U.S. elections from authoritarian interference
German Marshall Fund, September 2018

Cognitive effect and state conflict in cyberspace
Center for Strategic and International Studies, September 2018

Sécurité numérique des objets connectés, l’heure des choix
Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique, September 2018

How Ukraine’s government has struggled to adapt to Russia’s digital onslaught
Council on Foreign Relations, August 2018

China’s Junmin Ronghe and cybersecurity
Istituto per gli Studi di Politica Internazionale, August 2018

Developing cybersecurity capacity: A proof-of-concept implementation guide
Rand Corporation, August 2018

Eliminating a blind spot: The effect of cyber conflict on civil society
Council on Foreign Relations, August 2018

The disconnected dots between meddling and collusion
Cato Institute, August 2018

How Chinese cybersecurity standards impact doing business in China
Center for Strategic and International Studies, August 2018

Game over? Europe’s cyber problem
Centre for European Reform, Open Society European Policy Institute, July 2018

Cybercrime as a threat to international security
Istituto per gli Studi Politica Internazionale, July 2018

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

Using social media and social network analysis in law enforcement
Rand Corporation, July 2018

Cybersécurité: Une question de confiance
Confrontations Europe, July 2018

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

Géopolitique de la cyber-conflictualité
Institut français des relations internationales, June 2018

Shaping responsible state behavior in cyberspace
German Marshall Fund, June 2018

Software vulnerability disclosure in Europe: Technology, policies and legal challenges
Centre for European Policy Studies, June 2018

Cybersecurity in finance: Getting the policy mix right
Centre for European Policy Studies, June 2018

A balance of power in cyberspace
The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies, 2018

E-emblems: Protective emblems and the legal challenges of cyber warfare
Istituto Affari Internazionali, June 2018

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

Cybersecurity in an age of insecurity
Observer Research Foundation, May 2018

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

Speed and security: Promises, perils, and paradoxes of accelerating everything
Rand Corporation, May 2018


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

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/10/26/cybersecurity-what-think-tanks-are-thinking/

EU space programme [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Cemal Karakas (1st edition),

satellite over Europe and Asia, 3d visualization

© Mike Mareen / Fotolia

In June 2018, the European Commission proposed a total budget allocation of €16 billion to finance space activities during the 2021-2027 period. The bulk of this, €9.7 billion in current prices, would be allocated to Galileo and EGNOS, the EU’s global and regional satellite navigation systems, €5.8 billion would be allocated to Copernicus, the EU’s Earth Observation programme, and €500 million would be earmarked for security, such as the Space and Situational Awareness (SSA) programme and the new Governmental Satellite Communication initiative (GOVSATCOM) to support border protection, civil protection and humanitarian interventions, for instance. The main aims of the new space programme are to secure EU leadership in space activities, foster innovative industries, safeguard autonomous access to space and simplify governance. The space programme would upgrade the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) Agency by expanding its tasks and transforming it into the new European Union Agency for the Space Programme.

Versions

EU Legislation in progress timeline

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/10/26/eu-space-programme-eu-legislation-in-progress/

From post-truth to post-trust?

Written by Naja Bentzen,

Is the ‘very concept of objective truth’ fading out of the world, as George Orwell wrote in his Homage to Catalonia in the 1930s? Or is truth even ‘dead’, as Time magazine asked in 2017? Can we draw clear lines between objective facts, spin and lies? What are the consequences of ‘truth decay’ for trust, democracy and multilateralism?

Background: definitions of ‘post-truth’ and ‘truth decay’

Dishonest partnership or clandestine relationship as two corrupt fraudulent people meeting together in a secret agreement as a business metaphor for corrupt agreements or corruption in business.

© freshidea / Fotolia

Oxford Dictionaries chose ‘post-truth’ as word of the year 2016, defining the adjective as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’. Announcing the choice, Oxford Dictionaries explained that – whereas the concept of post-truth has existed for decades – the use of the word increased by 2 000 % in 2016 compared with 2015. This trend was fuelled by the 2016 UK EU referendum campaign, as well as by Donald Trump’s violations of the norm of truth-telling, and his endorsement of debunked conspiracy theories before and after he was elected US President in November 2016, including claims that climate change is a hoax. In 2017, Trump withdrew the US from the 2015 United Nations Paris Agreement to combat climate change.

A crisis of truth amid a crisis of legitimacy?

Researchers from the US RAND Corporation use the notion of ‘truth decay’ to capture four related trends: growing disagreement about facts; blurred lines between opinion and fact; increasing influence of opinion over fact; and declining trust in formerly respected sources of factual information. The philosopher Lee McIntyre has argued that ‘post-truth amounts to a form of ideological supremacy, whereby its practitioners are trying to compel someone to believe in something whether there is good evidence for it or not’. Public support for a political leader who is obviously lying may seem counter-intuitive. However, recent research has shown that voters – regardless of culture, gender, information access and language – are more likely to perceive a lying candidate as ‘authentically appealing’ if they regard the political system as flawed.

The roots of the erosion of truth

Whereas the focus on the erosion of truth has spiked in recent years, the underlying trends – the questioning of scientific evidence and the erosion of established facts – are not new. Waves of blurring lines between fact and opinion, as well as increased influence of opinion, have appeared in the 1870s-1890s, the 1920s-1930s, and the 1960s-1970s. In the 1950s, the booming advertising industry was a key amplifier when major US tobacco companies – facing scientific evidence linking smoking to cancer – decided to counter the science with their own ‘research’. They created the Tobacco Industry Research Committee to cast doubt on the scientific consensus that smoking causes cancer; to convince media that there were two sides to the story; and to dissuade policy-makers from damaging their economic interests. Recently, corporate-funded lobbying to fight the scientific consensus has affected decisions on climate change and breastfeeding.

Astroturfing: faking grass-roots campaigns

Aggressive lobbying is not new, but the techniques evolve over time. ‘Astroturfing’ – the deceptive practice of an orchestrated marketing or public relations campaign presented in the guise of unsolicited comments from members of the public – became well known in the US in the 1990s. In astroturfing, interest groups engineer campaigns, paying specialised firms to mobilise people who agree with their clients’ causes. The firms identify supportive citizens and actively connect them with policy-makers, for example by transferring calls to their offices. This procedure masks the sponsor of the campaign, making it appear to be a genuine grassroots movement. Accusations of astroturfing can, of course, also be used to discredit opposing interest groups. Digital rights activists have coordinated mass-email campaigns in Brussels in recent years, for example ahead of the European Parliament’s 2014 vote on the General Data Protection Regulation. Parliament was targeted by similar ‘very aggressive’ tactics in the context of the votes on the copyright directive in July and September 2018. The UK Electoral Commission in July 2018 found that outreach groups claiming to be independent were backed by the Vote Leave campaign, some tied to lobbying organisations.

The impact on democracies: from post-truth to post-trust

The blurring lines between interests and evidence, opinion and fact are arguably affecting journalism, academia, courts, law enforcement, science, and intelligence. This poses a fundamental risk to democracy’s core structures and processes and thereby to democratic governance, contributing to political paralysis and deadlock. From a citizen’s perspective, declining confidence in the government’s ability to protect people’s interests affects confidence in democratic processes, leading to alienation and disengagement.

most extreme changes in trust in institutionsLow trust in government weakens the authority of government institutions and boosts the role of other players, such as interest groups. Dis- and misinformation can further fuel this vicious circle. In a recent example of instrumentalisation of scepticism towards official recommendations, a study found that Kremlin-sponsored bots and trolls active during the 2016 US election had been sowing discord in the debate about vaccines. They posted strong views, both anti-vaccine and pro-vaccine, exacerbating concern over the rise in measles deaths while at the same time peddling anti-vaccine conspiracy theories.

The potential impact of ‘post-truth’ on multilateralism

The inability to take quick decisions on important topics can create significant foreign policy risk. Traditional ties between leading liberal democracies are increasingly questioned and strained, The 2017 Munich Security Report asserted that ‘post truth’ has a clear security dimension: if politicians lie, ‘can citizens and allies trust them on national security issues?’ In addition, some observers warn that multilateral diplomacy risks entering a reality in which diplomats neither agree on basic facts nor believe in one another’s security commitments. There is reportedly mounting concern at United Nations headquarters that the general pushback against human rights, combined with decreasing trust and transparency, could result in a ‘secretive international environment in which multilateral institutions lack both the political credibility and technical proficiency to establish the facts of major security incidents’.

The role of the European Union (EU) and the European Parliament (EP)

Declining trust in facts is a complex, cross-cutting phenomenon that affects democracy as a whole and is interlinked with a wide range of policy areas. EU and EP responses to disinformation – which fuels and thrives on the erosion of truth and trust – are explicit in the field of online disinformation, hybrid threats, and the securing of free and fair European elections. In the EP, the new European Science-Media Hub aims to build bridges between policy-makers, scientists, journalists and citizens to boost trust in expertise, improve communication on scientific developments, and strengthen evidence-informed policy-making.

Outlook: competing narratives in a post-truth world

In April 2018, the Commission called on online platforms to ‘dilute the visibility of disinformation by improving the findability of trustworthy content’. However, there is a lack of trustworthy, publicly accessible general-interest knowledge about history, society, geography, culture and religion in a number of European languages today. Combined with the attention-based business model of online platforms, declining trust in media, online platforms and institutions, the importance of emotions in political culture is likely to grow. The perceived legitimacy of current political systems has been dented by the 2008 financial crisis, the 2014 migration crisis and the referendum on UK EU membership, the lessons of which still seem unclear. Against this complex background, we are witnessing an increasing focus on narratives based on abstract beliefs, myths and religion – appealing to emotions rather than rationality – and a situation where trust is only extended to those who also believe in the same narratives. Experts have warned that the departure from rationality opens ‘such ring-fenced communities to manipulation and their societies to attack’, reinforcing the narrative by demonising outsiders. Authoritarian actors are arguably more adaptive in the post-factual environment. Against this backdrop, there are growing calls for free democratic players to increasingly ‘put such narratives to our own uses’.

Read this At a glance on ‘From post-truth to post-trust?‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/10/25/from-post-truth-to-post-trust/

New rules on copyright in the digital single market

Copyright in the Digital Single Market concept on European Union flag

© pe3check / Fotolia

Technological advances and the growth of the digital market have given rise to an ever-growing number of questions from the public concerning the new proposals to modernise EU copyright rules. To answer these concerns, we ask what steps the EU takes in considering the proposal for a directive on copyright in the digital single market on copyright in the digital single market at EU level?

This update of the copyright rules forms part of the EU digital single market strategy launched in 2015.

European Commission proposal

To help European culture flourish and circulate, the European Commission proposed a new directive on copyright in the digital single market which seeks to establish a fairer and more viable market for creators, the creative sector and the print media.

European Parliament position

Under the rules governing the ordinary legislative procedure, the European Parliament decides, on an equal footing with the Council of Ministers, whether or not to adopt a legislative act proposed by the Commission.

After first rejecting (in July) its Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) position on the decision to enter into negotiations with the Council of the European Union, the European Parliament adopted its negotiating position by 438 votes to 226 with 39 abstentions at its plenary part-session of 12 September 2018. This included adopting amendments concerning:

  • protection of press publications concerning digital uses;
  • use of protected content by online content-sharing service providers;
  • the principle of fair and proportionate remuneration;
  • negotiating rights for authors and performers;
  • adapting exceptions and limitations to digital and cross-border environments;
  • access to Union publications.

The text adopted following that vote in plenary was then sent to the JURI committee with a mandate to begin interinstitutional negotiations.

Council of the European Union position

The Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper) had agreed on a position on a negotiating mandate with the European Parliament, with a view to adopting the directive at first reading, on 25 May 2018.

Stakeholder positions

The file has been discussed by the European Economic and Social Committee and by the Committee of the Regions, both of which have issued opinions on the issue.

Next steps

The file is now awaiting the outcome of what are known as trilogue negotiations between Parliament, the Council and the Commission, following which the proposal will come before Parliament once again, for a final first-reading vote.

Further information

For further reading on the proposal on copyright in the digital single market, a wealth of information is available on the European Parliament Think Tank., including a briefing on copyright in the digital single market resuming the procedure and the state of play in July 2018, and a study on copyright law in the EU, comparing the situation in the EU Member States..

Continue to put your questions to the Citizens’ Enquiries Unit (Ask EP). We reply to you in the EU language that you use to write to us.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/10/24/new-rules-on-copyright-in-the-digital-single-market/