Месечни архиви: февруари 2019

Small investors [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 small investors.


Twitter Hashtag #EUandME




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Back view of thoughtful bearded young businessman sitting and woking with graph and charts on computer

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Individual investors who buy securities for themselves (and not on behalf of a fund or a bank) have access to a growing range of investment products, funds and investment-linked insurance policies, also known as ‘packaged retail and insurance-based investment products’ (or PRIIPs), offered by banks and insurance companies. The financial crisis has shown that, when it comes to investing in financial products, the information supplied to investors is of the utmost importance.

That is why the European Union’s ‘PRIIPs Regulation’ obliges companies that produce or sell such investment products to provide investors with a ‘key information document’ (referred to as a KID) for each product.

This document should be at most three pages long (font size 8 to 11) and provide clear information on the product, allowing the investor to take an informed investment decision. It should include at the very least the name of the product and the identity of the producer, the types of investors for whom it is intended, the risk and reward profile of the product (including the maximum potential loss to the investor), the costs to the investor associated with investment in the product, and also information on the complaints an investor can make, in the event of problems with the product or the person producing, advising on or selling it.

Further information

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/02/16/small-investors-what-europe-does-for-you/

Child victims of sexual abuse [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 child victims of sexual abuse.


Twitter Hashtag #EUandME

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Sad and lonely girl crying with a hand covering her face (with space for text)

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Did you know that, according to estimates, between 10 % and 20 % of children in Europe suffer sexual abuse before they turn 18? Abuse occurs mainly in their immediate environment, but the internet and new technologies have brought a new dimension to the sexual exploitation of children, which is sometimes of a commercial nature. Victims of online abuse experience high levels of re-victimisation as long after the abuse occurred their images can still be exploited on the web.

The EU has adopted legislation to combat this very serious crime, criminalising a wide range of behaviours, both offline and online, including grooming and webcam sexual abuse, and introducing not only higher penalties, but also preventive measures. The law requires EU countries to ensure that perpetrators are disqualified from professional activities involving contact with children, and facilitates the exchange of information on convictions via the EU criminal records system. EU countries are also required to remove webpages containing or disseminating child pornography promptly. The law aims to protect child victims in criminal investigations and proceedings, and to safeguard their privacy and identity. Moreover, child sexual exploitation is a priority under the EU plan for combating serious crime, in which the EU police agency (Europol) plays an important role.

The public can also help, by taking part in the Europol’s Trace an object campaign, helping to identify the origin of an object linked to investigations, or by contacting the INHOPE network of hotlines to report suspicious online content.

Further information

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/02/16/child-victims-of-sexual-abuse-what-europe-does-for-you/

The euro at 20 [What Think Tanks are thinking]

Written by Marcin Grajewski,

Euro money.Euro Flag.Euro currency.Coins stacked on each other in different positions. European union flag.

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The euro marked its 20th anniversary in January 2019, as debates continued about the single currency’s track-record and the shape of future reform. When the 11 original members of the euro area irrevocably fixed their exchange rates in 1999 and transferred authority over their monetary policies to the European Central Bank, the currency’s advocates hailed the move as the crowning achievement of European integration. Whilist some economists have blamed the euro-zone’s one-size-fits-all approach to interest rates for weakening growth and increasing economic divergencies between certain countries, others have pointed to the euro’s role in underpinning the single makret as well as offering resilience to Europe in withstanding the 2008-09 financial crisis and its aftermath. Opinion polls shows the euro continues to be popular among the citizens.

This note brings together commentaries, analyses and studies by major international think tanks and research institutes on the euro’s merits, its future and related issues. Earlier publications on the topics can be found in a previous edition of the series published in November 2018.

Comment accroître le rayonnement international de l’euro?
Confrontation Europe, February 2019

Twenty years of the euro: Resilience in the face of unexpected challenges
Centre for European Policy Studies, January 2019

Euroframe report 2019: Economic assessment of the euro area
Institut für Weltwirtschaft Kiel, January 2019

An anatomy of inclusive growth in Europe
Bruegel, January 2019

The euro turns 20
Centre for European Policy Studies, January 2019

The euro’s global dreams and nightmares
Centre for European Policy Studies, January 2019

Mapping the conflict between EU member states over reform of the euro zone
LSE Ideas, January 2019

Non-euro countries in the EU after Brexit
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, January 2019

The euro as an international currency
Bruegel, December 2018

Can the euro rival the dollar?
Centre for European Reform, December 2018

The euro: It must change to carry on
Globsec Policy Institute, December 2018

Rebalancing the euro area: A proposal for future reform
Wilfried Martens Centre, December 2018

Does the Eurogroup’s reform of the ESM toolkit represent real progress?
Bruegel, December 2018

The unbalanced monetary union
LUISS School of European Political Economy, December 2018

Deutschland, Frankreich und Italien im Euroraum: Ursprünge, Merkmale und Folgen der begrenzten Konvergenz
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, December 2018

A better European architecture to fight money laundering
Peterson Institute for International Economics, December 2018

Forecast errors and monetary policy normalisation in the euro area
Bruegel, December 2018

Which structural reforms does E(M)U need to function properly?
Wiener Institut für Internationale Wirtschaftsvergleiche, December 2018

Fixing the roof while the sun is shining
Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft, December 2018

The euro zone: A monetary union without a capital market
LUISS School of European Political Economy, December 2018

The international role of the euro
Bruegel, December 2018

Growth prospects, the natural interest rate, and monetary policy
Institut für Weltwirtschaft Kiel, January 2019

On German external imbalances
Centre for European Policy Studies, November 2018

EMU: Holding the supervisor to account
Jacques Delors Institute, November 2018

Comment la Banque centrale européenne a perdu son âme
Institut Thomas More, November 2018

Sovereign risk and asset market dynamics in the euro area
Centre d’Etudes Prospectives et d’Informations Internationales, November 2018

Euro-area sovereign bond holdings: An update on the impact of quantitative easing
Bruegel, November 2018

La sauvegarde de l’euro n’est pas qu’une question économique
Centre d’Etudes Prospectives et d’Informations Internationales, November 2018


Read this ‘at a glance’ note on ‘The euro at 20‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/02/15/the-euro-at-20-what-think-tanks-are-thinking/

The InvestEU programme: Continuing EFSI in the next MFF [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Angelos Delivorias and Ioannis Zachariadis (1st edition),

Teacher presenting investment strategy and benefits to become a successful business investor

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Since its launch in November 2014, the Investment Plan for Europe (IPE) has had considerable success in mobilising private investment across Europe. Despite its success, investment levels in Europe remain below pre-crisis levels. There is therefore a need to provide for an extended EU investment programme under the new multiannual financial framework (MFF), which caters for multiple objectives in terms of simplification, flexibility, synergies and coherence across relevant EU policies. The InvestEU programme, expected to run from 2021 onwards, has been designed to address this challenge. It will bring diverse EU financial instruments within a single structure, making EU funding for investment projects in Europe simpler and more efficient and flexible. It will build on the success achieved by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) and consist of the InvestEU Fund, the InvestEU Advisory Hub and the InvestEU Portal.

Versions





Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/02/15/the-investeu-programme-continuing-efsi-in-the-next-mff-eu-legislation-in-progress/

Plenary round-up – Strasbourg, February 2019

Written by Katarzyna Sochacka and Clare Ferguson,

Plenary session - Debate with Giuseppe CONTE, Italian Prime Minister on the Future of Europe

Copyright © European Union 2019 – Source : EP

The February plenary session highlights included a further debate on the Future of Europe, with Giuseppe Conte, Italy’s Prime Minister; debates on Syria, and the future of the INF Treaty and its impact on the EU; and discussions on Roma integration strategies, and on a reflection paper on a sustainable Europe by 2030. Parliament also held debates on the conclusion of three EU-Singapore agreements; the implementation of Treaty provisions; and the rights of LGBTI people. Members adopted legislative texts, inter alia, on a multiannual plan for stocks fished in the Western Waters; a Union civil protection mechanism; minimum requirements for water reuse; screening of FDI; electronic road toll systems; mutual recognition of goods; cross-border payments and currency conversion charges; and common rules for access to the international market for coach and bus services. Finally, Parliament adopted positions on six further proposed funding programmes for the 2021-2027 period, clearing the way to the launch of negotiations with the Council.

EU-Singapore Partnership

Members supported conclusion of the Free Trade Agreement (425 votes in favour, 186 against, 41 abstentions) and the Investment Protection Agreement with Singapore (436 in favour, 203 against, 30 abstentions). They also gave the green light to the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. Bilateral negotiations with Singapore were launched in 2010, in place of negotiations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as a whole. The negotiations with Singapore were completed in 2014. However, a dispute over trade policy powers arose between the Council and the European Commission, which then sought the opinion of the European Court of Justice. Signed in 2018, the three agreements, on free trade, investment protection, and cooperation, will significantly increase the EU’s trading presence in the region, adding to the successful ratification of the EU-Japan free trade agreement. The Council can now proceed to conclude the three agreements. The Investment Protection Agreement also has to be ratified by each individual Member State, in accordance with its internal procedures.

Implementation of Treaty provisions

In a joint debate, Parliament discussed and adopted texts on implementation of the Treaty provisions on EU citizenship, enhanced cooperation, and political control over the Commission. Members debated EU citizenship issues, calling on the Commission to end disenfranchisement of citizens residing in another EU Member State; to improve political and legal follow-up to successful Citizens’ Initiatives; and to boost participation in European elections by improving gender-balanced representation, information dissemination, and intensifying dialogue with citizens. Members called on the Commission to propose a regulation simplifying the legal framework for enhanced cooperation, whereby groups of countries can act together in the absence of agreement among all Member States. Regarding Parliament’s political control of the Commission, Members called for the executive to convert more Parliamentary initiatives into legislative proposals; for reinforced capacity in scrutinising the preparation and implementation of delegated and implementing acts; for political dialogue on Parliament’s stalled proposal on the right of inquiry; and for the Commission to review its administrative procedures for senior staff appointments.

EU-Cote d’Ivoire fisheries agreement

Members debated and approved the EU’s conclusion of the new protocol to the EU-Côte d’Ivoire fisheries agreement, which determines the €682 000 financial contribution paid in return for fishing rights in the area. The protocol should promote genuine sustainable development in local fisheries, and increase the added value to Côte d’Ivoire, in exchange for this use of its natural resources. The new six-year protocol (2018-2024) provides fishing opportunities for the EU tuna fleet in Côte d’Ivoire waters.

Multiannual plan for fisheries stocks in the Western Waters

Parliament approved, by a large majority, the interinstitutional trilogue agreement on a multiannual plan for fisheries in the Western Waters, part of the north-eastern Atlantic. Once adopted by the Council, the new regulation is expected to enter into force in spring 2019. The proposed plan covers fisheries exploiting stocks of fish and crustaceans living close to the sea bottom (known as demersal species), including deep-sea stocks. Parliament is keen to minimise the socio-economic impact of the measures proposed, by ensuring recreational fisheries do not have significant impact on fish stocks, and by expanding the management area for seabass.

EU-Morocco Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement

Parliament approved the conclusion of the EU-Morocco Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement, despite concerns regarding disputed waters around the Western Sahara. This agreement will provide fishing rights for128 EU vessels, in return for an average annual EU contribution of €40.15 million.

EU framework for FDI screening

Members adopted the text agreed in trilogue on the creation of a framework for the screening of foreign direct investment into the EU. Under the framework, Member States would retain the power to decide on FDI in their countries, but the Commission will be able to screen and if necessary publish an opinion on FDI, particularly should the investment have a negative effect on another EU Member State. Such inward investments often concern sensitive areas such as water, health, media, aerospace, and election infrastructure, by foreign investors who may be directly or indirectly controlled by foreign governments.

Electronic road toll systems

Parliament debated and adopted the text of a directive on electronic road toll systems following agreement with the Council. The updated rules will ensure vehicles do not need to carry large numbers of on-board devices, and improve information exchange on vehicle data, allowing for the pursuit of vehicle owners registered in another EU Member State for unpaid tolls.

Mutual recognition of goods

The principle of mutual recognition of goods crossing EU borders allows for frictionless trade in goods lawfully marketed in one Member State in any other EU country. Parliament debated and adopted a text agreed with the Council, to revise the current rules so as to address some shortcomings in their application. Member States will now have to justify any market access restrictions, speed up goods assessment, and improve problem-solving procedures. This could mean introducing SOLVIT-based procedures to resolve disputes between companies and authorities more quickly.

Cross-border payments and currency conversion charges

Parliament adopted an agreed text on a Commission proposal to review cross-border payments and currency conversion charges. The new legislation would reduce charges for cross-border euro payments and improve transparency regarding conversion fees.

Report on Bosnia and Herzegovina: 2018 country report

Parliament adopted its report on the Commission’s 2018 country report on Bosnia and Herzegovina. The country has made little progress in its EU accession ambitions, with inter-ethnic tensions making headlines, political, judicial and public administration reforms still lacking, and corruption persisting.

Opening of trilogue negotiations

One parliamentary committee decision, to enter into interinstitutional negotiations regarding European Border and Coast Guard, from the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) committee, was confirmed.


Read this ‘At a glance’ note on ‘Plenary round-up – Strasbourg, February 2019‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/02/15/plenary-round-up-strasbourg-february-2019/

General elections in Nigeria: EU support for democracy in Africa’s most populous country

Written by Ionel Zamfir,

Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy and most populous nation, prepares to hold general elections on 16 February 2019 in an environment characterised by a struggling economy and a volatile security situation. After the first peaceful change of power following the 2015 elections, upcoming elections are expected to be tightly contested.

National Assembly of Nigeria in Abuja. Flat cartoon style historic sight showplace attraction web site vector illustration. World countries cities vacation travel sightseeing Africa collection.On 16 February, Nigerians will choose their president and the members of the National Assembly for the next four years. The president has significant powers in Nigeria’s presidential system, combining the functions of head of state and chief of the federal government. To win the presidency, a candidate needs to win the largest share of votes and at the same time obtain at least 25 % of the votes in at least two thirds of the federal states. The legislative body, the bicameral National Assembly, comprises a House of Representatives with 360 members and a Senate with 109 members (three from each state and one from Federal Capital Territory). Members of the National Assembly are elected through a system of first-past-the-post voting in single member constituencies. Two weeks later, on 2 March, Nigerians will vote again, this time in state elections for state governors and legislators.

This time, Nigeria seems better prepared to hold the elections on the planned date, unlike in 2015 when they had to be postponed due to the Boko Haram insurgency. Voter registration has improved: over 84 million voters have registered to vote in the 2019 elections, a 21 % increase compared to the 2014 electoral register. The widespread use of digital technologies is a central feature of the electoral process and, depending on their reliability, they can enhance or, conversely, undermine voters’ trust in the process. In 2015, biometric cards were used for voter identification for the first time, but with frequent technical failures. In the ongoing electoral process, voter registration and identification are based on biometric features – photograph and fingerprints, which are supposed to eliminate multiple registration and voting.

Some doubts linger as to the capacity of electoral and judicial bodies to play a fair and independent role. Following the re-run of the September 2018 Osun governorship election, opposition forces and other stakeholders have questioned the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) capacity and impartiality. The suspension of the Nigerian Chief of Justice in January 2019 by President Buhari also raised suspicions among civil society that judicial independence in the electoral process could be undermined. Fake news and disinformation, as well as hate speech, remain a major concern, given their potential to fuel electoral violence, a major issue in previous elections.

The electoral landscape is dominated by two major political forces. The governing party, All Progressives Congress (APC), was founded in February 2013 in anticipation of the 2015 elections. Left-leaning, it is affiliated, with a consultative status, to the Socialist International. In the run-up to the elections, the party has experienced infighting, with one faction splitting, as well as a number of defections to the opposition. All these moves were motivated by dissatisfaction with the record of the incumbent president, Muhammadu Buhari.

The opposition is organised in an electoral alliance, the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) that comprises over 40 political parties. In fact, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) dominates. Founded in August 1998 by a group opposed to the military ruler General Sani Abacha, the PDP had dominated Nigerian politics until the last elections, governing with an absolute majority in the legislative assembly between 1999 and 2015. The CUPP has decided to support a single candidate, namely the PDP candidate, Atiku Abubakar, a former vice-president from 1999 to 2007 to then President Olusegun Obasanjo. Abubakar is a long-time insider in Nigeria’s ruling political circles, having switched sides from PDP to APC and back. He is more popular with voters in the south and south-west of the country.

Central issues in the electoral campaign

economy in Nigeria

Economy in Nigeria

Despite the reform efforts promoted by incumbent President Buhari, the economy has failed to take off. In 2015, Buhari inherited an economy weakened by its over-reliance on oil (as the prices dipped), as well as by public debt and corruption. Nigeria’s economy experienced a period of sustained growth at 5 to 8 % per year from 2000 to 2014, as long as oil prices were high. Afterwards, the economy slowed down considerably, recording negative growth (-1.6 %) in 2016 and reverting to low growth in 2017 (0.8 %). The oil and gas sectors are extremely important for the economy as a source of foreign exchange and in terms of their contribution to GDP. Fuels accounted for 92 % of the country’s merchandise exports in 2017. Buhari’s administration has tried to implement a series of reforms such as fighting corruption, stimulating other economic sectors than oil (such as agriculture and solid minerals), improving tax collection and fiscal discipline, and investing heavily in infrastructure. However, the outcome has been mixed, with some macroeconomic indicators indicating an improvement such as a rise in foreign reserves; a current account surplus and a reduction in inflation. The opposition candidate has promised to cut federal spending and privatise the oil sector. He wishes to promote more investor-friendly policies, is considering an amnesty for corruption suspects to help recover billions of dollars deposited abroad, and wants to create a US$25 billion fund to support private sector investment in infrastructure.

Youth unemployment

With a population estimated at over 180 million in 2015, Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation and the seventh most populous country in the world. Nigeria’s population is growing very quickly and the country could become the third most populous on the planet with almost 800 million inhabitants by the end of this century, according to United Nations projections. Due to this special demographic dynamic, most of the population is very young and will remain so in the foreseeable future. This poses challenges for the economy, which needs to create jobs for the numerous young people joining the labour force each year. Indicators do not bode well in this respect. Nigeria’s unemployment rate increased from 18.8 % in the third quarter of 2017 to 23.1 % in in the third quarter of 2018 according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Security

The security situation remains very volatile in several regions, and critics point to Buhari’s record on security matters as problematic. After Buhari took power, Niger Delta insurgents intensified the country’s economic woes, disrupting oil extraction and transport. After the Buhari administration extended their reintegration programme, they agreed to a fragile peace, but the potential for a new crisis remains high and any troubles are considered a major threat to the country’s economy. In the south, Biafran separatism has again been gaining traction. In response, security forces have brutally cracked down on separatist leaders and protesters, possibly committing extrajudicial killings, according to Amnesty International. In the fight against Boko Haram, the Buhari administration’s record is also mixed. While the group has lost the control it held in 2014 over vast swathes of territory, it has preserved its capacity to conduct murderous attacks on the civilian population and the military outposts in the north-east. This reality contradicts Buhari’s claim that the terrorist group has been defeated. Another security issue that could have an impact on the electoral campaign is the intensifying conflict between Christian farmers and Muslim Fulani herders in the Middle Belt. Buhari, who comes also from the Fulani ethnic group, has being criticised for being biased towards the latter, as security forces have been unable or unwilling to stop most attacks against farmers.

EU democracy support for Nigeria

Against this very troubled background, the electoral stakes are high for Nigeria, but also for democracy in Africa in general. The European Union is committed to consolidate democratic progress in Nigeria. It will be the sixth consecutive time that the EU sends an Election Observation Mission (EOM) to observe Nigeria’s general elections, chaired by Maria Arena, (S&D, Belgium). Since the return of democracy to the country in 1998, EU observers have been present at every general election held from 1999 to 2019. The European Parliament has been involved in all EU EOMs to Nigeria.

The EU has also provided financial and technical assistance to electoral institutions and stakeholders since 1999. As an African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States (ACP) country, Nigeria is a beneficiary of the European Development Fund (EDF). According to the National Indicative Programme established with the country, 17.6 % (around €90 million) of planned EDF financing for the period 2014-2020 is reserved for rule of law, governance and democracy. The objective of EU support is to improve economic governance, consolidate the rule of law, enhance peace and security, reinforce democratic processes and help manage migration and mobility.

In 2017, the EU established a specific programme ‘Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria‘ endowed with €26.5 million from the EDF, for a five year period. It was launched at the beginning of 2018, with the stated purpose of contributing to the consolidation of democracy, while taking inspiration from the recommendations of the 2015 EU EOM. It provides funding to ten organisations that implement various activities (trainings, seminars, capacity development, awareness raising etc.) in support of the Independent National Electoral Commission (€13 million), Nigeria’s National Assembly (€3 million), political parties (€2.7 million), media (€2.6 million) and civil society organisations (€3 million).

The European Parliament is strongly committed to reinforcing electoral processes and democratic institutions and stakeholders in the country. The Parliament’s Democracy Support and Election Coordination Group (DEG) oversees and manages the activities carried out with Nigerian partners. Nigeria was added to the DEG list of priority countries in 2017. Under this framework, a comprehensive programme of capacity-building activities has been developed and implemented with the National Assembly of Nigeria. These have included several joint seminars between Nigerian parliamentarians and EP Members, a fact finding mission to Abuja, as well as training for the staff of the Nigerian parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/02/15/general-elections-in-nigeria-eu-support-for-democracy-in-africas-most-populous-country/

Building a renewable energy future on dialogue and cooperation

Written by Philip Boucher,

STOA workshop on ' Responding to public opposition to low-carbon energy technologies 'The STOA workshop ‘Responding to public opposition to low-carbon energy technologies’ gathered academic experts, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), regulators and grid operators to share their perspectives on managing public opposition to and support for low-carbon energy technologies. The event also served as the launch of a new STOA study, which examined a broad range of academic perspectives on the issue. Despite the diverse experiences of the speakers, there was a consensus on the need to translate broad public support for renewable energy into acceptance of the infrastructural developments that are needed to deliver it. The panellists also agreed that public responses are more nuanced than simple support or opposition, and that the key factors for fostering support for infrastructural development are trust, transparency, fairness and cooperation.

Workshop moderator Jens Geier (S&D, Germany) opened the meeting with a reference to the urgent need to decarbonise society, highlighting that support for a clean energy transition is found across Europe, even in areas with a strong mining tradition. Introducing STOA, Paul Rübig (EPP, Austria) explained the importance of gathering evidence and examining all options, taking account not only of technical possibilities, but also of wider social, economic and environmental issues, including how these issues are communicated.

The first panellist – Antonella Battaglini – represented the Renewables Grid Initiative, which brings European NGOs and grid operators together to enable transparent collaborative development of the energy system towards a renewable energy future. She argued that opposition to local projects need to be considered in the context of longer-term issues, such as the future that is desired for the next generations and the actions that are required to achieve it. Environmental NGOs and grid operators need to work together, because clean energy requires infrastructural development, which in turn requires widespread cooperation and support. Her concluding message was that the best strategy cannot come from any single actor, but must be developed through collaboration.

Sarah Mander from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Manchester, is the lead author of the STOA study on ‘Understanding public responses to low carbon technologies’. In her talk, she showed that there is widespread support across Europe for low-carbon energy, while there is often local opposition to projects that could help to deliver it. However, as outlined in the report, characterising such opposition as a selfish ‘not in my back yard’ attitude or as misinformed judgement of the technology is both inaccurate and ineffective. Instead, she argued, responses are on a continuum with many shades of opposition and support for many different reasons, including cultural, symbolic and procedural factors. Often, opposition to specific development is rooted in wider dissatisfaction about citizens’ representation and engagement in wider social, political or economic decision-making. To overcome these issues, she highlighted the role of a ‘social licence to operate’, which goes beyond legal permission to achieve tacit acceptance of local communities.

STOA workshop on ' Responding to public opposition to low-carbon energy technologies 'Representing the European Commission Directorate General for, Catharina Sikow-Magny argued that the need to transform our energy economy is an opportunity for innovation and job creation, but effective transformation will require careful management, with transparency and fairness described as key factors in the success of projects. This is why the European Commission’s ‘projects of common interest‘ (cross-border infrastructure developments to link the energy systems of EU Member States) engage communities continually and provide reliable information to citizens on the expected outcomes of projects. Her concluding message was that there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution, so strategies for managing acceptance need to reflect the individual circumstances.

The next two speakers represented the Irish and Belgian energy grid systems. Rosemary Steen noted that, in her experience as Director of External Affairs at EirGrid, people will support projects that are genuinely in the common interest. Following the trend of consumers increasing becoming ‘prosumers’, more actively involved in decisions about how their energy is delivered to them, she argued that continuous dialogue is the best way to ensure common interest. As Director of Public Acceptance of the Belgian grid operator, Elia, Ilse Tant shared her experience of working together with citizens, mayors and other key stakeholders to design the infrastructure needed to deliver low-carbon energy. She showed how this kind of deep dialogue and cooperation was a constructive means of fostering both understanding and acceptance of the need for energy infrastructure projects.

Following the panel presentations, several interesting questions from the audience were raised, in particular regarding how to rebuild trust in institutions when it is broken. In response, the panellists highlighted that energy transition is not only a motivation to foster public support for low-carbon energy technologies, but is also an opportunity to change the way decisions are made, which could help to rebuild trust in wider institutions.

If you missed out this time, you can access the presentations and watch the webstream of the workshop via the event page.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/?p=37667

European elections: voting rights for EU citizens living abroad

Europawahl, Wahlurne in die ein Stimmzettel eingeworfen wird

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The European Parliament regularly receives enquiries from EU citizens living abroad about how to vote in the European elections.

Voting in the country of citizenship

EU citizens living abroad (whether in another EU country or outside the EU) may have the right to vote, under certain conditions, in the European Parliament elections in their country of citizenship.

Practical arrangements to vote in the European elections for people living abroad vary a great deal among EU countries: most countries allow voting at embassies or consulates, several countries allow citizens living abroad to vote by post, a few countries allow voting by proxy, and one (Estonia) allows e-voting. Some countries (such as the Czech Republic, Ireland, Malta and Slovakia) do not allow their citizens living outside the country to vote in the European elections.

Some EU countries require voters to pre-register with their national electoral authorities to be eligible to vote from abroad. Several EU countries (such as Bulgaria, Greece and Italy) grant the right to vote only to their citizens living in another EU country. In addition, most EU countries make special arrangements for diplomats and military personnel serving overseas. For some countries’ citizens (for instance Denmark), voting at embassies takes place prior to election day.

Voting in the country of residence

EU citizens living in an EU country of which they are not nationals have a right to vote in the European Parliament elections in the country where they live, under the same conditions as nationals. Special rules may apply in countries where non-nationals make up more than 20 % of the total electorate.

One citizen = one vote

Double voting in European elections (in the country of residence and in the country of citizenship) is strictly forbidden and subject to penalties. EU countries are required to exchange information at least six weeks before European elections to prevent double voting.

For further details, please refer to the national authorities organising the elections in your country.

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

Further information

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/02/14/european-elections-voting-rights-for-eu-citizens-living-abroad/

European elections: how to stand as a candidate

European union flag against parliament in Brussels, Belgium

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The European Parliament regularly receives enquiries from citizens about how to stand as a candidate in the European elections.

The conditions people must meet to stand as a candidate in the European elections are set out both by national legislation, and by European legislation, with certain common rules applicable in all EU countries.

Under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, citizens of a European Union country have the right to vote and to stand as candidates in elections to the European Parliament and in municipal elections in the Member State where they live, under the same conditions as nationals of that State. The detailed arrangements for exercising this right are laid down in 1993 legislation, amended in 2012 (see Article 10).

Nationals of another EU country must be resident in the EU country where they wish to stand as a candidate and comply with the same conditions as set out for nationals. No person may stand as a candidate in more than one EU Member State at the same election.

For specific countries’ electoral procedures, please refer to the national authorities organising the elections in the country where you live.

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

Further information

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/02/14/european-elections-how-to-stand-as-a-candidate/

United Nations reform

Written by Joanna Apap,

Flags of all nations outside the UN in New York City.

© Andrew Kazmierski / Fotolia

At the 72nd United Nations (UN) General Assembly on 18 September 2017, 120 countries expressed their commitment to the reforms proposed by UN Secretary-General António Guterres. Since 1946, the UN has undergone a number of reforms either in whole or in part. The term ‘reform’ has proved troublesome for UN member states on account of its lack of clarity and the lack of consensus as to execution. This is particularly apparent in the scepticism expressed by the United States (US) in 2018 regarding the need for global governance, the importance of UN Security Council decisions such as the Iran nuclear deal, and the efficiency of the United Nations.

This briefing explains how the current reform differs from previous ones, in as much as it focuses on management and addresses the criticisms of a lack of accountability and transparency, ineffectiveness, and the deficit in trust between the organisation and its member states in the current system. The United Nations reform agenda centres on three key areas: development, management, and peace and security. First, development reform will bring a bold change to the UN development system in order to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This will be centred on the creation of a new generation of country teams led by an independent team of UN country experts (‘resident coordinators’). Second, the simplification of processes, increased transparency and improved delivery of mandates will form the basis of a new management paradigm for the secretariat. Third, peace and security reform will be underpinned by placing priority on conflict prevention and peacekeeping, increasing the effectiveness and coherence of peacekeeping operations and political missions.

Two years after its launch, the reform process is starting to bear fruit, with implementation set to begin in 2019 and a focus on streamlining, accountability, transparency and efficiency. However, the reform process does not make explicit mention of bolstering human rights. This briefing also explores the possibility of capitalising on the current reforms so as to boost the indivisibility of human rights, while taking stock of stakeholders’ reactions to the UN reforms under way.


Read the complete briefing on ‘United Nations reform‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/02/13/united-nations-reform/