Месечни архиви: март 2019

Defenders of media freedom in accession countries [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 defenders of media freedom in accession countries.


Twitter Hashtag #EUandME

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Do you think you should be able to express your opinions without being censored? Do you care about who controls the media in our democracies? If you do, the EU institutions share your views. Freedom of speech is a core value of the European Union. Where the EU can act, it puts programmes to support media freedom in place.

One such programme is the annual Media Pluralism Monitor that surveys risks to media freedom and pluralism across the EU. Conducted by the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom, it systematically, objectively and scientifically examines all factors that pose a risk to media freedom. These reports are freely accessible for use by citizens, scientists and policy-makers.

The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), funded by the European Parliament, launched a programme devoted to fighting media freedom violations and helping journalists under threat. It supports investigative reporters, with grants and workshops on a safe digital working environment. The Mapping Media Freedom programme, conducted by ECPMF, and managed by the Index on Censorship and European Federation of Journalists, maps media freedom threats across Europe and tackles them through awareness campaigns, policy recommendations and training.

Viewers can get more than just a national perspective through independent news production, covering EU affairs from a pan-European point of view. An EU programme supports the European Data News Hub and the European Data Journalism Network, which serve as a data and information hub, providing accurate data-driven news.

Further information

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/03/30/defenders-of-media-freedom-in-accession-countries-what-europe-does-for-you/

Innovation in Europe [What Think Tanks are thinking]

Written by Marcin Grajewski,

innovation technology for business, innovative idea, concept with icons

© anyaberkut / Fotolia

Innovation in the economy is a priority for the European Union, vital to its competitiveness in the global economy, and for growth and jobs. The EU is implementing a number of policies and programmes that support innovation to increase investment in research and development, and to better convert research into improved goods and services. Yet, according to many analysts, despite the roll-out of numerous pro-innovation initiatives, the EU is still lagging behind the United States and China both on innovation and in relation to the related digitalisation process.

This note offers links to recent commentaries, studies and reports from major international think tanks on innovation in the EU and related issues. More papers on innovation, notably on the digital economy, can be found in a previous item in this series published in July 2018

Impulses for European democracy and initiatives for the digital future: Annual report
Bertelsmann Stiftung, March 2019

Standing up for competition: Market concentration, regulation, and Europe’s quest for a new industrial policy
European Centre for International Political Economy, March 2019

Innovation en santé: Soignons nos talents
Institut Montaigne, March 2019

En route pour la sino-mondialisation
Institut des relations internationales et stratégiques, March 2019

Artificial Intelligence: Ethics, governance and policy challenges
Centre for European Policy Studies, February 2019

AI tool builders and their users: What should we expect from the tools and who is responsible when they fail?
German Marshall Fund, February 2019

Contribution to growth: The European Digital Single Market
Bruegel, February 2019

Construire la souveraineté numérique de l’Europe
Confrontations Europe, February 2019

European innovation partnerships: How successful have they been in promoting innovation in the EU?
Wiener Institut für Internationale Wirtschaftsvergleiche, January 2019

Science, technology and innovation diplomacy: A way forward for Europe
Vrije Universiteit Brussel, January 2019

Innovate Europe: Competing for global innovation leadership
World Economic Forum, January 2019

Big data analytics need standards to thrive: What standards are and why they matter
Centre for International Governance Innovation, January 2019

How will Artificial Intelligence change the character of war?
Beyond the Horizon, January 2019

Keeping up with innovation: Designing a European sandbox for fintech
Centre for European Policy Studies, January 2019

Vertical restraints and e-commerce
Bruegel, January 2019

How Europe could yet take the lead in the global electric-vehicle development race
Bruegel, January 2019

Four internets: The geopolitics of digital governance
Centre for International Governance Innovation, December 2018

Eco-innovation: drivers, barriers and effects: A European perspective
Wiener Institut für Internationale Wirtschaftsvergleiche, December 2018

Transformation numérique de l’industrie: L’enjeu franco-allemand
Institut français des relations internationales, December 2018

Ethics and artificial intelligence
Bruegel, December 2018

Digital Europe: Next steps, – European agenda for the Digital-9+
Lisbon Council, November 2018

In pursuit of autonomy: AI and national strategies
Observer Institute Foundation, November 2018

Harnessing digital tools to revitalize European democracy
Carnegie Europe, November 2018

China’s embrace of AI: Enthusiasm and challenges
European Council on Foreign Relations, November 2018

The next steps for the digital single market: From where do we start?
European Centre for International Political Economy, October 2018

Wie future skills die Personalarbeit verändern
Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft, October 2018

Online platforms, economic integration and Europe’s rent-seeking society: Why online platforms deliver on what EU governments fail to achieve
European Centre for International Political Economy, October 2018

Responsible, safe and secure AI
Lisbon Council, October 2018

Cyber finance challenges demand a unified response
Centre for European Policy Studies, October 2018

Delivering the goods: E-commerce logistics transformation
World Economic Forum, October 2018

Do data policy restrictions impact the productivity performance of firms and industries?
European Centre for International Political Economy, October 2018

The European answer to the digital revolution: How to ensure Europe’s competitive advantage?
Notre Europe, September 2018

Building a forward-looking EU policy strategy on blockchain
College of Europe, September 2018

The future of work: Robots cooking free lunches?
Wilfired Martens Centre, September 2018

Artificial intelligence and political science
OCP Policy Center, September 2018

Europe’s payments revolution
Centre for European Policy Studies, September 2018

Skills, entrepreneurship and new business models: Ways to rejuvenate the German industrial model
Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft Köln, August 2018

The impact of artificial intelligence on employment
Bruegel, July 2018

Artificial intelligence: A game-changer for the world of work
European Trade Union Institute, June 2018

Online platforms and how to regulate them: An EU overview
Jacques Delors Institute, Berlin, Bertelsmann Stiftung, June 2018

Artificial Intelligence and international affairs: Disruption anticipated
Chatham House, June 2018

‘TECHNOPOLY’ and what to do about it: Reform, redress and regulation
ResPublica, June 2018


Read this briefing on ‘Innovation in Europe‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/03/29/innovation-in-europe-what-think-tanks-are-thinking/

Truth, trust and democracy: in a digital world, is knowledge still power?

Written by Naja Bentzen,

EPRS round table discussion - Trust, truth and democracy: In a digital world, is knowledge still power ?Trust and truth have been two sides of the same coin since the late Neolithic/early Bronze Age. The words trust and truth originate from the same linguistic root: proto-indo-European –deru, meaning something firm, solid and steadfast – like wood. Today, several thousands of years later, we are seeing a new wave of pressure on facts and information, which are being manipulated for ideological and/or economic purposes, while emotions often trump evidence. The ongoing a crisis of facts, expertise and trust is a challenge for media, institutions and experts.

Some use the notion of post-truth – the Oxford Dictionaries choice as 2016 word of the year – while RAND experts use the idea of ‘truth decay’ to capture four related trends: growing disagreement about facts; blurred lines between opinion and fact; increasing influence of opinion and feeling over fact; and declining trust in traditionally respected sources of factual information. Some argue that we should call this development anti-enlightenment, to highlight that the development is pushed by groups of players who benefit from it: some state- and non-state actors strategically try to undermine our open democracies, while commercial players – big online platforms – monetise and instrumentalise our online behaviour and the personal data they collect.

Against this backdrop, the EPRS – whose explicit aim it is to empower through knowledge, and therefore has an obvious interest in countering pressure on facts and expertise – organised a Library discussion on 20 March. On the brink of Brexit and 60 days before the European elections, this event focused on questions on truth, trust and democracy that concern not only policy-makers, knowledge providers (including the EPRS and the wider expert community) and news media – but all voters in Europe and beyond.

EPRS round table discussion - Trust, truth and democracy: In a digital world, is knowledge still power ?Following a welcome by EPRS Director General, Anthony Teasdale, and a keynote speech from Ramón Luis Valcárcel Siso (European Parliament Vice-President responsible for the EPRS), we were privileged to welcome Shoshana Zuboff, Professor Emerita, Harvard Business School and author of ‘The age of surveillance capitalism‘ (2019) – who joined us via Skype from the USA – as well as Dr William Davies (Goldsmiths, University of London), author of ‘Nervous states – How feeling took over the world‘ (2018). Charles de Marcilly, Adviser at the European Political Strategy Centre also joined the discussion, which was moderated by Etienne Bassot (Director, Members’ Research Service), with Naja Bentzen as discussant.

Against the backdrop of the increasing pressure on our information space – including disinformation campaigns by state and non-state actors and the ‘dictatorship of algorithms’, which dictates the level of our knowledge, Ramón Luis Valcárcel Siso called for the selection process for information to be transparent and for people to maintain a critical spirit towards the information they receive.

Europe is our hope, our vanguard

Shoshana Zuboff – who has been called one of the 11 most influential business thinkers – condensed her expertise and research in a memorable speech, in which she warned that ‘surveillance capitalism’ – big tech companies that mine and monetise our data – use our actions and behaviour as raw material for behavioural data. She highlighted that surveillance capitalism represents a model of asymmetric knowledge and a social inequality of knowledge: the companies know everything about us, but we have no insight into what they are doing. Against this backdrop, the question ‘is knowledge power?’ has never been more potent, nor more dangerous, Shuboff noted. Shuboff concluded by underlining that the EU is ‘our vanguard’: our responses to the threats of surveillance capitalism – including our anti-trust rules – have significant impact beyond Europe. On the same day, EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, fined Google €1.49 billion (1.29% of Google’s turnover in 2018) for breaching EU anti-trust rules.

The challenge of communicating in a post-truth era

EPRS round table discussion - Trust, truth and democracy: In a digital world, is knowledge still power ?

Dr Will Davies

Building on Shoshana Zuboff’s speech, Will Davies drew on his 2018 book ‘Nervous States: How Feeling took over the world‘ to identify some of the main drivers that are undermining objectivity and expertise in democracies today. Whereas facts have allowed strangers to believe each other regardless of predisposed beliefs and opinion, he said, in a post-truth society this is increasingly difficult. Looking at loss of trust in traditional centres of expert knowledge and professional judgement, Davies asserted that this has a much longer, deeper history than the focus on the last few years, but that it has been radicalised by the economic and technological upheavals of the past decade.

The EU’s response

Charles De Marcilly explained how the EU is gearing up to protect the upcoming European Parliament election in May 2019. A new EU rapid alert system to share real-time warnings, react and ensure coordination between EU capitals and Brussels has been active since March 2019. Spearheaded by the EU, the first-ever global industry Code of Practice, setting out self-regulatory standards to fight disinformation and increase transparency was agreed last September. This voluntary mechanism is a first step in shaping global norms to fight online disinformation. In addition, the EU has set up an independent European network of fact-checkers to establish common working methods, exchange best practices, achieve the broadest possible coverage across the EU, and participate in joint fact-checking and related activities. These different measures can be seen as a step towards greater resilience.

Is knowledge still power? Yes, but …

The discussion showed us that the knowledge-power-nexus is constantly evolving. The phrase ‘knowledge is power’ can mean very different things: In authoritarian systems it means controlling access to information, often violating freedom of expression, which also includes the freedom to form opinions. For surveillance capitalism, knowledge is instrumentarian power, meaning controlling access to our data, monetising our public debate to not only shape our ability to form opinions, but even modifying our behaviour and purposely breeding ignorance.

In an open, peaceful democracy, knowledge shared is power multiplied. In order to make informed, democratic choices, we need to be able to base our opinions on facts, rather than create ‘alternative facts’ that match our opinions. At the EPRS we are already working to share knowledge beyond our bubble. Thereby, we are already contributing to bridging the trust gap between informed elites and the mass population, as the Edelman Trust Barometer 2019 showed. However, as our discussion illustrated, if we want to maintain shared realities, where we can trust each other, much more needs to be done. The EU’s final (= post-election) response to the behaviour of online platforms and the results of Code of Practice agreed ahead of the European elections will have an impact beyond the EU and may even set a new global standard.

Meanwhile, one major question remains: How do we reclaim the public space for debate, both political and social? How do take back the monetised information space? And where is the neutral, non-commercial space where we can have the necessary public debate on these questions?

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/03/28/truth-trust-and-democracy-in-a-digital-world-is-knowledge-still-power/

Artificial intelligence in transport: Current and future developments, opportunities and challenges

Written by Maria Niestadt,

Empty cockpit of autonomous car, HUD(Head Up Display) and digital speedometer. autonomous car. driverless car. self-driving vehicle.

© metamorworks / Fotolia

Artificial intelligence is changing the transport sector. From helping cars, trains, ships and aeroplanes to function autonomously, to making traffic flows smoother, it is already applied in numerous transport fields. Beyond making our lives easier, it can help to make all transport modes safer, cleaner, smarter and more efficient. Artificial intelligence-led autonomous transport could for instance help to reduce the human errors that are involved in many traffic accidents. However, with these opportunities come real challenges, including unintended consequences and misuse such as cyber-attacks and biased decisions about transport. There are also ramifications for employment, and ethical questions regarding liability for the decisions taken by artificial intelligence in the place of humans.

The EU is taking steps to adapt its regulatory framework to these developments, so that it supports innovation while at the same time ensuring respect for fundamental values and rights. The measures already taken include general strategies on artificial intelligence and rules that support the technologies enabling the application of artificial intelligence in transport. In addition, the EU provides financial support, in particular for research.


Read this briefing on ‘Artificial intelligence in transport: Current and future developments, opportunities and challenges‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/03/28/artificial-intelligence-in-transport-current-and-future-developments-opportunities-and-challenges/

What is the European Union doing about climate change?

The European Parliament regularly receives enquiries from citizens asking what the European Union (EU) is doing about climate change.

The European Union – a world leader on climate action

Planet with grass growing on land masses isolated on white background. Abstract sustainability concept 3D illustration

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A 2050 low carbon objective, adopted by the European Council in 2009, seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 to 95 % by 2050, compared with 1990 levels, as part of a global effort to limit temperature increases to below 2°C. In addition, a 2030 climate and energy framework, adopted by the European Council in 2014, sets three targets to be met by 2030:

  • at least 40 % cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, compared with 1990 levels;
  • a minimum 27 % share for renewables in the energy mix;
  • and an improvement in energy efficiency of at least 27 %.

Mind the gap

Meanwhile, the 2015 Paris Agreement aims to keep the global temperature rise well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C. Today, global temperature is 0.9°C above pre-industrial levels. A 2018 report by the intergovernmental panel on climate change highlighted the need for urgent action to meet these goals, while a 2018 UN Environment emissions gap report indicated that current national efforts worldwide would lead to an estimated 3.2°C warming by 2100.

In 2018, the European Commission published a 2050 long-term strategy presenting eight scenarios for a transition to a low-carbon economy, in line with the Paris Agreement objective.

In a resolution of 14 March 2019, the European Parliament called for net-zero global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, an enhancement of national efforts worldwide by 2020 and a more ambitious EU target of a 55 % emission reduction by 2030.

What the EU can do

Under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, EU environmental policy aims at providing ‘a high level of protection’.

The European Union is competent to act in most areas of environment and climate policy, although its powers are rather limited on certain topics (such as tax, land use and energy mix). The main responsibility for implementation lies with EU countries, and in some cases with regional and local authorities.

What the EU has been doing

As regards funding, 20 % of the EU budget is to be spent on climate-related objectives. This share is expected to rise in the future.

As regards climate change mitigation, most of the EU regulatory framework up to 2030 was set in 2018-2019. Parliament and Council have adopted new rules and 2030 emission targets for specific sectors, strengthening and extending previous targets. For example:

  • emissions from energy and industry covered under the EU emissions trading system (ETS) must be reduced by 43 % by 2030;
  • emissions from transport, buildings and agriculture must be reduced by 30 % by 2030;
  • new CO2 standards for trucks and buses and for cars and vans are being set.

As regards climate change adaptation, EU policy is defined in a 2013 adaptation strategy, designed to encourage EU countries to adopt comprehensive policies; to promote adaptation in key vulnerable sectors (such as agriculture, fisheries and cohesion policy); and to develop knowledge about adaptation to enable better informed decision-making. In 2018, 25 EU countries had developed a national adaptation strategy.

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/2019/03/26/what-is-the-european-union-doing-about-climate-change/

Scientists meet MEPs: a relation based on trust

Written by Zsolt G. Pataki with Riccardo Molinari,

Scientists meet MEPsTo promote the role of science in ensuring a sound basis for public policies and political decisions, the European Parliament’s Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA) organised ‘Science Week at the European Parliament’, between 5-7 February 2019, in cooperation with the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), and the European Research Council (ERC). The week of scientific events encompassed the ‘Brussels Week’ of STOA’s MEP-Scientist Pairing Scheme, the JRC’s ‘Science meets Parliaments’ event, a European Science-Media Hub (ESMH) workshop on ‘Tackling misinformation and disinformation in science’, and a STOA/ESMH-ERC Conference entitled ‘Investing in researchers, shaping Europe’s future’. The aim of these events was to strengthen the structured dialogue between scientists and policy-makers, to raise awareness about politically relevant, cutting-edge scientific issues and the importance of science for evidence-informed policy-making.

STOA and the JRC jointly launched the ‘Science meets Parliaments’ initiative in 2015 at the European Parliament (EP). This year’s event marked the official opening of the EU pilot project Science meets Parliaments/Science meets Regions. The event discussed how science could play a bigger role in 21st century policy-making and a number of other topics, ranging from how artificial intelligence may influence our lives to building resilient societies and engaging citizens in decision-making. An accompanying exhibition focused on migration, resilience, mobility, fairness and digital transformation.

Scientists meet MEPsA high-level session moderated by Vladimír Šucha, Director-General of the JRC, featured statements by representatives of major stakeholders, including Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport; Jerzy Buzek, Chair of the ITRE Committee; Mady DELVAUX, EP rapporteur on ‘Civil rules on robotics’, Ashley FOX, EP rapporteur on a ‘Comprehensive European industrial policy on artificial intelligence and robotics’, and Paul RÜBIG, STOA First Vice-chair.

During this ‘Science Week’, 13 paired scientists in the framework of the MEP-Scientist Pairing Scheme had an opportunity to follow their MEP counterparts in their daily political activities, and gain an understanding of the EU science, technology and research policy framework, including, in particular, EP work in this area. The feedback from participating scientists and Members suggests that the Pairing Scheme was very well received, and that all participants would recommend the scheme to their colleagues. Members gained an insight into specific areas of scientific research and developed their understanding of how scientists might support policy-making. In fact, regular editions of the scheme increase its impact as more Members and scientists are offered the opportunity to participate in the pairing experience. Several participants stressed the value of the scheme and how it has helped them gain insights into increasingly important areas both in the European Union and globally.

Scientists meet MEPsIn parallel, the European Science-Media Hub (ESMH) workshop on ‘Tackling misinformation and disinformation in science’ provided for an exchange of good practices in tackling misinformation and disinformation in science, via the presentation of case studies, illustrating relevant initiatives touching upon different science disciplines.

The conference entitled ‘Investing in researchers – Shaping Europe’s future’ brought policy-makers and ERC-funded grantees together, with the aim of supporting evidence-informed policy-making and underlining how Europe’s future can be shaped by fundamental research on topics ranging from smart agriculture and food, via CRISPR, to migration and demography.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/03/25/scientists-meet-meps-a-relation-based-on-trust/

What if a simple DNA test could predict your future? [Science and Technology podcast]

Written by Lieve Van Woensel,

© SunnySideUp / Shutterstock.com

What if new-born babies were given a DNA report card that predicted their intelligence, their odds of getting a PhD, their chances of becoming a chain smoker or suffering depression, a heart attack or cancer? Thanks to ongoing genetic studies, a large amount of genetic data is available today involving millions of people. The wealth of information available to researchers allows them to create a polygenic risk score based on the DNA test of a person. This can be used to predict a person’s chances of getting a disease, his or her traits and behaviour, and many other things about their future. Are these predictions flawless? Who would benefit from them? What are their implications for a person’s life in general?

A single gene goes wrong. This results in diseases like sickle cell anaemia or BRCA breast cancer. With a few exceptions, genetic tests used by doctors today can already detect these rare, deadly variants in a single gene that lead to such uncommon forms of disease. However, most of the ‘big killers’, such as heart disease, are not caused by mutations in a single gene. These are rather a more complex case of hundreds or more changes in the genetic makeup that collectively influence the outcome. Tests for this type of changes are now possible, however, and produce what is referred to as a polygenic risk score.

Welcome to the world of polygenic risk scores: which promise to ‘unlock your future for less than €50’ upon submission of an uploaded DNA swab. Polygenic scores, as the name suggests, involve thousands of genes. A genome is a complete set of genetic instructions in an organism that contains all of the information needed to build that organism and for it to develop and function. These polygenic scores are derived from the combination of all the variants in a person’s inherited genome, and can spot risks of killer diseases, including those not manifested in either parent’s family history. Access to information from polygenic risk scores for different diseases provide insights that plot genetic architecture against a wide range of outcomes, behaviours and traits. This enables the prediction of risk factors, such as smoking or high cholesterol.

However, such genetic marker-based scores are not diagnoses, instead they offer a spectrum of probabilities from low to very high risk, and the scientific validity of these risk scores is up for debate. The accuracy of a polygenic risk score for an individual depends on how closely that person’s DNA resembles the DNA of the people whose genomic data was used to develop the score.

Possible impacts and developments

The availability of direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic tests online and the possibility of using a polygenic risk score to discover the genetic roots of common ailments, not only open new options for public health care, but also transform the way we access personal genetic data and make informed decisions. However, are consumers of these DTC genetic tests fully aware of the impact the outcomes can have on their lives? Moreover, these predictions could be widely misinterpreted or abused. An individual’s genetic profile is, above all, a private matter, leading to questions as to whether such personal data can be protected. Another issue is that individuals have the right not to (want to) know what the future holds, for instance about diseases they cannot prevent. To interpret outcomes from genetic tests, medical framing is strongly recommended. It is therefore questionable, why an individual would choose to receive possibly unsettling medical information without medical guidance. With guidance from a medical professional, genetic testing data could be used proactively to make personal health decisions, concerning interventions such as screening, chemoprevention (using medication to prevent cancer in healthy people), or risk-reducing surgery for people with a high risk score for colorectal cancer.

There has been a boom in companies – Helix, 23andMe, Ancestry, Myriad Genetics, UK Biobank and Broad Institute, for example –collecting consumers’ DNA data to create genetic profiles. The risk scores obtained could drive the market of wearable devices and trackers, such as heart monitors. Users who download their genetic profile created by such commercial operators can then upload their genetic information to public family history (genealogy) sites and connect with other people of the same lineage. Indeed, one such public genealogy site helped police to crack a cold case. While, with the growing number of people enrolled for DNA tests, the accuracy of predictions is improving, it is obvious that sharing DNA on commercial databases could endanger individual’s privacy, and place sensitive information in the hands of a few companies.

Furthermore, like other data-driven technologies, genetic testing data is mostly available for certain racial/ethnic groups, raising concerns about the reliability of the predictions for other populations. This also presents an opportunity to expand the database to include the non-dominant population. A recent study shows that with the amount of DNA information housed in digital stores, more than 60 % of Americans with European ancestry can be identified through their DNA using an open genetic genealogy directory, regardless of whether they have acquired their polygenic score or not. This raises privacy concerns. The rapid expansion of these digital genetic directories makes it possible to trace any individual through their unsecured DNA. Unless the practice of conducting genealogy searches is properly regulated, anybody could experience genetic surveillance. Are individuals protected against potential abuse of such DTC genetic tests, for instance by insurance companies? Insurance companies with access to the polygenic scores could use them to decide not to offer insurance cover or to charge them exorbitant rates to people at a higher risk of disease.

These DNA tests can also be used to predict measurable human traits, including human behaviour. This will lead to predictions about the chances of a person committing crime, or about an individual’s IQ. Until a recently, no gene variant had ever been directly linked to IQ. The recent development linking 206 genetic variants to IQ has, however, resulted in a rapid genetic exploration. Psychologist Robert Plomlin talks about the possibility that human genome data will predict IQ in his book, ‘Blueprint‘. What if parents and educators used such predictions to determine the academic potential of their children? The polygenic scores could be used to customise education to each child’s needs, as not all children respond in the same way to teaching practices. These scores, which could predict the pattern of strengths and weaknesses in each child, could aid educators in designing different teaching practices for different children. The possibility of this technology to predict educational attainment has spurred many companies to invest in research on the genetics of educational attainment. In vitro fertilisation (IVF) clinics already permit a pre-implantation screening to detect embryos with rare genetic diseases before selecting the cells to be implanted. What if these were combined with IQ predictions and used to genetically select super-smart babies?

This technology has also found a potential market in applications such as predicting the age at which Alzheimer’s could appear, or the time of an individual’s death. With the rise of new technologies such as DNA storage and genome editing, it is not far-fetched to predict that future forecasts based on polygenic scores are here to stay. Is genome prediction a breakthrough in medicine and disease prevention or a dystopia in the making?

Anticipatory policy-making

The growing popularity and the availability of direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing raises concerns, for instance, about how individuals are warned of the implications of such tests.

A study on legislation of DTC genetic testing in Europe gives a general overview of the national legislation addressing genetic testing in Europe. It argues that the applicability of relevant legislation is complicated by the fact that DTC genetic testing is provided outside the traditional healthcare system. This makes the classification of DTC genetic testing as a medical or recreational product unclear. These genetic tests are sold online, further raising concerns on jurisdiction and enforcement.


Read the complete ‘at a glance’ note on ‘What if a simple DNA test could predict your future?‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/03/25/what-if-a-simple-dna-test-could-predict-your-future-science-and-technology-podcast/

Drone users [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 drone users.


Twitter Hashtag #EUandME

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Flying Drone with Camera

© Ingo Bartussek / Fotolia

Have you ever bought or been offered a drone, and wondered what you are allowed to do with it? Maybe you have already taken photos with your drone or tried to lift things up into the air. Or maybe your neighbours thinks you are spying on them…

Various European countries have regulated the use of drones. However, the rules differ from country to country and are not easy to follow. The European Union has helped drone users to navigate this vast mass of information, by co-funding the creation of a website on drone rules.

Providing information does not eliminate all obstacles to the creation of a truly open market for drones however. Drones can pose a risk to safety, security and privacy regardless of the country in which they are being flown. They can also be flown across national borders. That is why the EU has been working on common rules on the civil use of drones. These rules will be adopted step by step, starting from general principles and moving towards more detailed rules. The rules will take into account the risk caused by various drone uses and will include requirements such as the obligation for people flying heavier drones to register, or restrictions on flying drones in certain zones defined by each country.

Not all rules are written in drone-specific laws. For instance, if your drone is equipped with a camera or a video recorder, and you capture personal data, EU data protection rules could apply. These rules say that you are not allowed to take photographs, videos or sound recordings of people without their permission.

Further information

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/03/24/drone-users-what-europe-does-for-you/

People living near airports [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 people living near airports.


Twitter Hashtag #EUandME

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is wedfm_fooetr-short.jpg


passenger plane fly up over take-off runway from airport

© potowizard / Fotolia

Air traffic in the EU is rising, with 973 million passengers carried in 2016. Despite aircraft being 75% less noisy now than 30 years ago, they are still a major noise source. Studies suggest that living close to an airport may lead to health problems like heart disease and strokes, sleep disturbance, stress or hearing impairment.

If you live near an airport, you will be pleased to know that the EU is taking this problem seriously. According to its general rules on environmental noise, authorities must inform the public about the impacts of noise pollution and consult on planned measures. The EU has also adopted specific legislation establishing a clear procedure for the introduction of noise-related operating restrictions at its airports, with more involvement of local communities. Its aim is to balance air transport needs with those of airport neighbours, by lowering noise levels through the use of modern aircraft, better land-use planning, quieter ground operations and restrictions on night-time flying. The EU has also helped to limit noise by introducing common rules on civil aviation, and rules for the environmental certification of aircraft, as well as by regulating the operation of certain aeroplanes.

Finally, the EU co-finances research projects on issues such as innovative methodologies and technologies for reducing aircraft noise (IMAGE), aviation noise impact management through novel approaches (ANIMA), environmental impacts at airport level (CLAIRPORT), aircraft noise reduction technologies (ARTEM) or lower aircraft noise with new engines (ENOVAL).

Further information

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/03/24/people-living-near-airports-what-europe-does-for-you/

EU citizens working in another EU country [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 EU citizens working in another EU country.


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European jobs

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Eight and a half million EU workers (3.6 % of the EU’s active population) either work or are looking for a job in another EU country, as permanent workers, cross-border workers or posted workers. The free movement of workers is one of the four fundamental freedoms enshrined in the EU treaties and a core element of EU citizenship, but is also key to completing the monetary union and the single market. Nevertheless, European workers move less than their US or Australian counterparts. Many are afraid of losing their social or pension rights or of being exploited. Others face language or cultural barriers or difficulties in getting their professional qualifications recognised.

The EU has taken several measures to make it easier for workers to move around. One of them, EURES (European network of Employment Services), is a network designed to facilitate free movement within the EU plus Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, and to match workers with employers. Better social security coordination between countries now makes it possible to enjoy pension and social security rights all over Europe. The common rules on the recognition of professional qualifications have been updated. A European platform set up to combat undeclared work and the (ongoing) enforcement of the rules on posted workers aim to protect the rights of workers and fight against social dumping. All these initiatives are designed to help workers move around more easily but also to promote the welfare and productivity of mobile workers when they are working in another EU country.

Further information

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/03/23/eu-citizens-working-in-another-eu-country-what-europe-does-for-you/