Месечни архиви: декември 2019

Plenary round-up – Strasbourg, December 2019

Written by Clare Ferguson and Katarzyna Sochaka,

EP Plenary session - Conclusions of the European Council meeting of 12 and 13 December 2019 - European Council and Commission statements

© European Union 2019 – Source : EP/Fred MARVAUX

The December plenary session highlights included the election of the European Ombudsman; commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the Lisbon Treaty and the Charter of Fundamental Rights becoming legally binding; and the award of the 2019 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Parliament adopted positions on the rule of law in Malta, following the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, and on public discrimination and hate speech against LGBTI people, including LGBTI-free zones. It also debated statements by the Vice-President of the European Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR/VP) on the humanitarian situation of the Uyghur in China and in Venezuela and Nicaragua, on the migration and refugee crisis, and on the violent crackdown on recent protests in Iran. Debates took place, inter alia, on Commission and Council statements on: the 30th anniversary of the Romanian revolution of December 1989; the post-2020 EU disability strategy; the COP25 outcome; animal welfare conditions during transport to third countries; and the US Trade Representative’s announcement on France’s digital service tax. Parliament also voted on appointments to the Executive Board of the European Central Bank.

European Green Deal – extraordinary plenary session on 11 December

During an extraordinary December plenary session, Members debated the European Green Deal presented by Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans after its adoption by the European Commission the same day. Outlined in Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s political guidelines, the Green Deal aims to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050, while boosting industrial competitiveness and ensuring a just transition for the regions and workers affected. Key aims include preserving Europe’s natural environment, a ‘farm to fork’ strategy for sustainable food, and a new circular economy action plan.

Election of the Ombudsman

In the election of the European Ombudsman, Members chose to re-elect incumbent Emily O’Reilly, following a tight third round of votes against Julia Laffranque (320 votes against 280, out of 600 votes cast). O’Reilly’s main priority remains tackling the lack of transparency in national governments’ role in EU law-making. The Ombudsman’s office represents citizens and others who wish to lodge complaints regarding the actions of EU administrative bodies, and aims at ensuring that EU institutions respect citizens’ rights and the principles of good administration.

10th anniversary of the Lisbon Treaty

Parliament commemorated the 10th anniversary of the Lisbon Treaty and that of the Charter of Fundamental Rights becoming legally binding. With the coming into force of the Lisbon Treaty, the European Council became a formal EU institution, and the anniversary provided an occasion to review the formal and informal changes it brought about in the role of the EU institutions. The new competences added under the Treaty have yet to be fully exploited, however, and represent a rich seam of unused Treaty potential for the future.

European Council meeting of 12 and 13 December 2019

Parliament heard a report on, and debated the conclusions of, the latest meeting of the European Council, on 12 and 13 December 2019. At this first European Council meeting chaired by the new President, Charles Michel, EU leaders announced an agreement on the objective of achieving a climate-neutral EU by 2050, despite one Member State’s inability to commit to implementing this objective at this stage. No agreement was reached on the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), but the European Council mandated its President to take the negotiations forward. The Council also considered the proposed Conference on the Future of Europe, and tasked the incoming Croatian Presidency with working towards defining a Council position, and to engage with the European Parliament and the Commission. EU leaders also discussed a wide range of international issues, including relations with Turkey and Russia.

Sakharov Prize 2019

Parliament awarded its 2019 Sakharov Prize to laureate Ilham Tohti. The European Parliament is committed to defending human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the award highlights those who stand up for the right to freedom of expression, safeguard minority rights or champion international law and democracy. Currently imprisoned by the Chinese government (his daughter received the prize on his behalf), Ilham Tohti is a moderate advocate of Uyghur minority rights who eschews radical separatist movements in favour of dialogue with the Han majority. Parliament’s President has urged the Chinese government to release Tohti, and called for China to respect minority population rights, particularly in the light of the ‘China-cables’ exposé of Chinese treatment of the Uyghur.

Joint debate on VAT fraud and payment service providers

Members debated, and approved by a large majority, two reports providing opinions on the proposals for a regulation and directive to better combat VAT fraud in the e-commerce sector. E-commerce is booming, and while it offers opportunities to increase cross-border sales, the EU is keen to avoid that it also allows increased tax fraud. Tackling VAT fraud related to e-commerce therefore requires robust systems for the transmission and exchange of VAT-relevant payment data (such as who is supplying the goods). Consulted on two European Commission proposals (on maintaining and exchanging electronic payment records), Parliament recommends the establishment of a common EU system for the collection of comparable statistics on intra-Community VAT fraud and the publication of national estimates of VAT revenue losses due to fraud. It also proposes to extend the period during which payment service providers are required to keep information on cross-border payment transactions, from two to three years.

CAP: Flexibility pillars for 2020 and financial discipline from 2021

While there is broad agreement that interim measures are necessary to bridge the funding gap until the MFF can be agreed, the EU still needs to put transitional provisions in place. Parliament’s Budgets and Agriculture Committees agreed that those who benefit from EU funding should not suffer harm because of the procedural delays. Consequently, no amendments were tabled to the Commission’s proposal for a regulation extending the current rules on flexibility between the pillars of the common agricultural policy (CAP) until the end of 2021, and Parliament approved its first-reading position under a simplified procedure. The stability of EU farmer income support post-2020 is now ensured, as the new regulation extends the 2015-2019 rules on flexibility between CAP pillars, i.e. moving money from national envelopes for rural development to the envelope for direct payments.

EU-Gambia Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement

Members voted in favour of concluding a new EU fisheries agreement with The Gambia, including a proposed annual EU contribution of €550 000. Half of this amount covers access rights for EU fishing vessels to Gambian waters and half should assist The Gambia to develop its fisheries sector in a sustainable manner, including preventing illegal fishing.

Read this ‘at a glance’ on ‘Plenary round-up – Strasbourg, December 2019‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/12/20/plenary-round-up-strasbourg-december-2019/

Priority dossiers under the Croatian EU Council Presidency

Written by Lucienne Attard (The Directorate-General for the Presidency),


© meunierd / Shutterstock

For the first time since joining the European Union in 2013, Croatia will hold the rotating Council Presidency from 1 January to 30 June 2020. Croatia is a parliamentary, representative democratic republic, where the Prime Minister of Croatia is the head of government in a multi-party system.Executive power is exercised by the government and the President of Croatia. Legislative power is vested in the Croatian Parliament. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. Parliament adopted the current Constitution of Croatia on 22 December 1990 and decided to declare independence from Yugoslavia on 25 May 1991.

The Croatian Parliament is the unicameral representative body of the citizens of the Republic of Croatia. Under the terms of the Croatian Constitution, the ‘Sabor’ represents the people and is vested with legislative power. The Sabor is composed of 151 members elected for a four-year term based on direct, universal and equal suffrage by secret ballot. Seats are allocated according to the Croatian Parliament electoral districts: 140 members of the parliament are elected in multi-seat constituencies, 8 from the minorities and 3 from the Croatian diaspora.

Since 19 October 2016, the Prime Minister of Croatia is Mr Andrej Plenković. There are four deputy prime ministers: Davor Božinović, Zdravko Marić, Damir Krstičević and Predrag Štromar. The government ministers are from the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and the Croatian People’s Party – Liberal Democrats (HNS), with two further ministers being independent politicians. TheCroatian Democratic Union (Croatian: Hrvatska demokratska zajednica or HDZ, literally Croatian Democratic Community) is a liberal conservative political party and the main centre-right political party in Croatia. It is one of the two major contemporary political parties in Croatia, along with the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SDP). It is currently the largest party in the Sabor with 55 seats.


This note looks at the Croatian Presidency’s priorities, focusing essentially on the four core priorities, which will guide its work until June 2020. Those dossiers which figure in the Joint Declaration agreed to by the three institutions as priorities for 2018-2019 are marked with an asterisk (*). Also includedare some legislative files which the Conference of Presidents (COP) of the European Parliament endorsed in a list of ‘unfinished business’ in October 2019, and on which work between the two co-legislators has started or will resume.

The four main priority areas of the Croatian Presidency are:

  • A Europe that is developing,
  • A Europe that connects,
  • A Europe that protects, and
  • An influential Europe.

The challenges currently facing the Union are well known and include in particular Brexit and the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027 (MFF) (2018/0166 APP)*, which the Croatian Presidency commits to carrying forward. Croatia also pledges to focus on disparities in economic development, climate change, migration, misinformation campaigns and growing populism.

This presidency will follow on the work of the Finnish Presidency, taking into account the priorities of the Strategic Agenda 2019-2024 endorsed by the Member States at the European Council on 20 June 2019. The Strategic Agenda covers the protection of citizens’ freedoms; developing a strong and vibrant economic base; building a climate-neutral, green, fair and social Europe; and promoting European interests and values on the global stage.


In an effort to reduce differences between Member States, and to foster economic and social cohesion and convergence, Croatia will work towards an ambitious, balanced and sustainable MFF.During Parliament’s eighth legislature, a number of committees worked on the proposals for sectoral programmes, which will implement the overall MFF for 2021-2027. However, the actual amount of the next seven-year EU budget still needs to be established by the Council and then approved by Parliament. Agreeing the new seven-year programme has been complicated by, on the one hand, the appointment of a new Commission, and on the other hand, by time-consuming and complex issues such as Brexit.

Brexit is a major question that the Croatian Presidency will be facing, considering the deadline of 31 January 2020 for the UK to exit the EU. The general election on 12 December in the UK gave an unambiguous result, and the UK parliament can now be expected to move forward in time for the Brexit date. In the coming months there will need to be negotiations on the new relationship to be tailored with the UK, and this will most certainly dominate the political environment in the first half of 2020.

In line with Croatia’s first priority, the following legislative proposals could feature during the Croatian Presidency:

  • Establishment of the Reform Support Programme (2018/0213 COD) (MFF file)*
  • European Investment Stabilisation function (2018/0212 COD) (MFF file)*
  • Recovery and Resolution of central counter-parties (2016/0365 COD)*
  • Credit services, credit purchasers and the recovery of collateral* (2018/0063A COD)
  • Accelerated extrajudicial collateral enforcement* (2018/0063B COD)
  • Framework for the development of EU Sovereign Bond-backed Securities (SBBS) (2018/0171 COD)*
  • European Deposit Insurance Scheme (EDIS) (2015/0270 COD) *

On matters relating to the strengthening of competitiveness and skills, the Croatian Presidency plans to focus on digitalisation of business, competitiveness of European industry and SMEs, mobility of scientists and researchers, and modernisation of agriculture. The following are some of the pending proposals which would fall under this remit:

  • Support for strategic plans to be drawn up by Member States financed by EAGF and EAFRD (2018/0216 COD) (MFF file)
  • Programme for single market competitiveness of enterprises, including SMEs and European statistics 2021-2027 (2018/0231 COD) (MFF file)
  • Horizon Europe framework programme for research and innovation 2021-2027 and specific programme implementing it (2018/0224 & 0225 COD) (MFF file)
  • Digital Europe Programme 2021-2027 (2018/0227 COD) (MFF file)
  • Common agricultural policy (CAP) 2021-2027 (2018/0218 COD) (MFF file)
  • Common agricultural policy: financing, management and monitoring (2018/0217 COD) (MFF file)

With regard to the mobility of scientists and researchers, there is the pending proposal on the Entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly skilled employment(2016/0176 COD)*. This proposal, known as the Blue Card directive, remains blocked over the question of harmonisation vs national schemes.

In the context of a green Europe, and of sustainable economic growth and development, the following could feature prominently:

  • Regulation on the framework to facilitate sustainable investment (2018/0178 COD)
  • Programme for the environment and climate action (LIFE) 2021-2027 (2018/0209 COD) (MFF file)
  • Minimum requirements for water reuse (2018/0169 COD)

The Croatian Presidency also intends to work towards the implementation of the Paris Agreement, with a transition to a low-carbon and circular economy, and on conservation of biodiversity, protection of the marine environment and efficient water and waste management. It is to be noted that legislative proposals on the matter are being prioritised by the European Commission. A European Green Deal has already been adopted by the College of Commissioners and presented in Parliament on 11 December 2019. New legislative proposals in this connection will be adopted and published in the coming months.

On social matters, the Croatian Presidency highlights the need to implement the European Pillar of Social rights, including work-life balance and promoting equality between women and men, as well as better opportunities for young people and promoting lifelong care for one’s health. In this regard, there is the non-evolution on the legislative proposal on Gender balance among non-executive directors of companies listed on stock exchanges (2012/0299 COD). On the other hand, there is a possibility that the proposal on the Coordination of social security systems (2016/0397 COD)* could be concluded by the Finnish Presidency before the end of its term in December 2019. This proposal affects the social rights of some 12 million citizens and their families.


The main areas of concern under this heading are the establishment of a single, European transport area, high quality and secure data infrastructure, an integrated energy market and stronger connections between Union citizens. To this end, the following pending legislative proposals could be negotiated during the Croatian Presidency:

  • Charging of heavy goods vehicles (Eurovignette) (2017/0114 COD)*
  • Use of vehicles hired without drivers for the carriage of goods by road (2017/0113 COD)*
  • Combined transport of goods between Member States (2017/0290 COD)*
  • Access to the international market by coach and bus services: further opening of national markets (2017/0288 COD)*

On stronger connections between Union citizens, the Croatian Presidency proposes to focus on further strengthening the mobility of students and researchers – in this context, negotiations on the Erasmus programme for education, training, youth and sport 2021-2027 (2018/0191 COD) will beessential, as well as on the Creative Europe programme 2021-2027 (2018/0190 COD). Equally important in terms of youth programmes, is the European Solidarity Corps programme 2021-2027(2018/0230 COD) (MFF file).


Internal security, more effective control of external borders, interoperability of IT systems and stronger resilience to external threats and malicious cyber activities, are amongst the key areas the Presidency would like to focus on. The following legislative proposals are relevant:

  • European production and preservation orders for electronic evidence in criminal matters * (2018/0108 COD) (known as one of the e-evidence files)
  • Appointment of legal representatives for the purposes of gathering evidence in criminal proceedings* (2018/0107 COD) (also an e-evidence file)
  • Internal Security Fund 2021-2027 (2018/0250 COD)Visa Information System* (2018/0152 COD)
  • Preventing the dissemination of terrorist content online* (2018/0331 COD)
  • Respect for private life and the protection of personal data in electronic communications (e-privacy)* (2017/0003 COD)
  • Returning illegally staying third-country nationals* (2018/0329 COD)

On the reform of the Common European Asylum system, and questions of migration, the co-legislators did not conclude the following proposals and work, it is hoped, would resume quickly:

Asylum: Member States responsible for examining an application for international protection (Dublin system)* (2016/0133 COD) – this is the key file of the asylum package and the one that held up the conclusion of most other files in the package

  • European Union Agency for Asylum* (2016/0131 COD)
  • Eurodac* (2016/0132 COD)
  • Standards for the reception of applicants for international protection* (2016/0222 COD)
  • Standards for the qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection* (2016/0223 COD)
  • Common procedure for international protection in the Union* (2016/0224 COD)
  • Union Resettlement Framework* (2016/0225 COD)


Strengthening multilateralism, fulfilling the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals and promoting European values and interests are amongst the key points for the EU’s external action. The Croatian Presidency considers that an effective enlargement and neighbourhood policy, including in the Western Balkans, is necessary for further economic development in Europe. To this end, an EU-Western Balkans Summit will take place in Zagreb in May 2020. Prior to this, the European Council pledged to discuss enlargement matters again after failing to approve Northern Macedonia and Albania for accession negotiations.

Equally important are the negotiations on the Instrument for pre-accession assistance (IPA III) 2021-2027 (2018/0247 COD) (MFF file).

The Croatian Presidency also considers it a priority to intensify relations with third countries and to strengthen transatlantic relations. Trade agreements with Vietnam and Mercosur are nearing completion, with consent for the first due to be given by the INTA committee in January and plenary in February 2020. Referral to Parliament of the Mercosur agreement is expected by mid-2020.

On questions of security and defence, negotiations on the European Defence Fund 2021-2027(2018/0254 COD) (MFF file) will be important in terms of the crisis-response capacity described in the Presidency priorities.


The Croatian Presidency has announced it intends to build cooperation and agreement among Member States in a spirit of consensus and mutual respect. In this light, work on the Conference on the Future of Europe is expected to intensify, at a time where the challenges facing the EU are significant, including the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU. Similarly, it is expected that a new Joint Declaration for 2020, between the three institutions, will see the light of day during the Croatian Presidency, after the new Commission has presented its annual work programme for 2020.

Read this briefing on ‘Priority dossiers under the Croatian EU Council Presidency‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

The Directorate-General for the Presidency (DG Presidency) plays a key role throughout each parliamentary procedure, from its launch until its conclusion through the adoption of an EP resolution or legislative act, in particular in ensuring the smooth running of the plenary sessions. The staff of the DG play a key coordination role across the different services of the Parliament, and support Members in a wide range of activities. The Interinstitutional Relations Unit within DG Presidency, amongst other tasks, prepares a broad range documents concerned with strategic programming, such as on activities of the Commission and the Council.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/12/20/priority-dossiers-under-the-croatian-eu-council-presidency/

2019: A year of challenges and choices [What Think Tanks are thinking]

Written by Marcin Grajewski,

© Artur Szczybylo / Shutterstock.com

The European Parliament elections and formation of a new European Commission with new priorities, together with a general economic slowdown against the backdrop of the US-China trade conflict, to say nothing of Brexit, defined 2019 as a year of tough choices in the context of old and new challenges. Those include efforts to fight climate change, the defence of the rules-based international order, the advance of the digital revolution, the emerging debate over the EU’s strategic sovereignty, and the need to re-define relations with the United Kingdom post-Brexit.

This note offers links to recent selected commentaries, studies and reports from major international think tanks on the state of the EU in 2019 and its outlook in several important areas.

Commission, elections, dilemmas

The future of the European Union: Scenarios for the start of the new legislature
Istituto Affari Internazionali, November 2019

The new EU leadership: The von der Leyen Commission focuses on Europe’s geoeconomic power
Finnish Institute for International Affairs, November 2019

Can Europe learn to play power politics?
Centre for European Reform, November 2019

Moving beyond the ‘crisis’: Recommendations for the European Commission’s communication on migration
European Policy Centre, September 2019

Spitzenkandidaten poker
European Council on Foreign Relations, July 2019

Comparative trends in EU governance
Clingendael, July 2019

How to govern a fragmented EU: What Europeans said at the ballot box
European Council on Foreign Relations, June 2019

The changing global order and its implications for the EU
Finnish Institute of International Affairs, March 2019

No end in sight for the EU’s democracy and rule of law crisis
German Marshall Fund, March 2019

Joining forces: The way towards the European Defence Union
European Political Strategy Centre, February 2019


Four pillars to make or break the European Green Deal
Bruegel, November 2019

4 priorities for the COP25 climate conference in Madrid
World Resources Institute, November 2019

Financing climate change and sustainable growth
LSE, Grantham Institute on Climate Change, November 2019

Coming soon: A massive laboratory for ‘Green New Deals’
Bruegel, October 2019

Cities, climate change and chronic heat exposure
LSE, Grantham Institute on Climate Change, September 2019

The ambition call: European Union
New Climate Institute, August 2019

Planning for 2050: Shifting the focus towards long-term climate objectives
Ecologic Institute, August 2019

Europe’s clean energy transition: An economic opportunity, an environmental imperative
Friends of Europe, July 2019

A 100 percent renewable energy system in Europe is technically possible and economically rational
Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, May 2019

What is climate resilience and why does it matter?
Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, April 2019

Defence and foreign policy

Towards a European Security Council?
Centre for European Reform, November 2019

The militarization of US foreign policy: Engagement with Europe increasingly about defense
Finnish Institute of International Affairs, November 2019

The changing global order: Which role for the European Union?
Stiftung Genshagen, October 2019

Sub-surface competition in the EuroAtlantic area: The challenge to Western dominance
Institut français des relations internationales, October 2019

Mission possible? The geopolitical Commission and the partnership with Africa
European Centre for Development Policy Management, October 2019

Defend, engage, maximise: A progressive agenda for EU-China relations
Foundation for European Progressive Studies, October 2019

Democratization first: The community method in CFSP as a precondition for a European defence policy
Institut français des relations internationales, September 2019

The multilateral system under stress: Charting Europe’s path forward
Clingendael, July 2019

From plaything to player: How Europe can stand up for itself in the next five years
European Council on Foreign Relations, July 2019

Strategic autonomy for European choices: The key to Europe’s shaping power
European Policy Centre, July 2019


A trade war ceasefire is just what America’s economy needs
Peterson Institute for International Economics, December 2019

EU trade policy: Global enforcer for the European Green Deal
European Policy Centre, December 2019

The rise of economic nationalism threatens global cooperation
Peterson Institute for International Economics, September 2019

La politique de sanctions de l’Union européenne: Ambition multilatérale contre ambition de puissance
Institut français des relations internationales, October 2019

Shaping a new international trade order: Competition and co-operation among the European Union, the United States, and China
Dahrendorf Institute, October 2019

The real cost of Trump’s trade wars
Centre for European Policy Studies, August 2019

The unravelling of the Shanghai ‘Deal’: US-China trade-cum-currency conflict comes to Europe
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik, August 2019

Transatlantic trade: The emergence of an EU geo-economic strategy?
German Marshall Fund, July 2019

A reflection on the Mercosur agreement
Bruegel, July 2019

US-China trade war: Why the EU should take sides and favour the rules-based order
Istituto Affari Internazionali, July 2019

Economy and euro

Manufacturing employment, international trade, and China
Bruegel, November 2019

The single market remains the decisive power of the EU
Centre for European Policy Studies, October 2019

Beyond industrial policy: Why Europe needs a new growth strategy
Jacques Delors Institute, October 2019

The single market remains the decisive power of the EU
Centre for European Policy Studies, October 2019

Changing guard of the ECB
Institute of International and European Affairs, September 2019

New beginnings: A new approach to euro zone reform
Notre Europe, September 2019

The role of the European Central Bank
Council on Foreign Relations, August 2019

ECB monetary policy in the post-Draghi era
Peterson Institute for International Economy, June 2019

The Economic and Monetary Union: Past, present and future
Centre for Social and Economic Research, March 2019

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

Digital revolution

An industry action plan for a more competitive, sustainable and strategic European Union
Vrije Universiteit Brussel, November 2019

The case for platform governance
Centre for International governance innovation, November 2019

Beyond industrial policy: Why Europe needs a new growth strategy
Jacques Delors Institute, October 2019

5G: What we talk about when we talk about trust, the EU risk assessment process
European Centre for International Political Economy, October 2019

Analytical report: Preparing the armed forces for disruptive technological changes
European Policy Centre, September 2019

The end of techno-utopianism
German Marshall Fund, September 2019

Artificial Intelligence prediction and counterterrorism
Chatham House, August 2019

How to strengthen Europe’s agenda on digital connectivity
Clingendael, July 2019

Digitalisation and European welfare states
Bruegel, July 2019

Harnessing artificial intelligence
European Council on Foreign Relations, June 2019


Path to a softer Brexit? UK PM’s win gives him leeway
Centre for European Reform, December 2019

Getting the UK ready for the next phase of Brexit negotiations
Institute for Government, December 2019

The EU should prepare for all UK post-election scenarios
European Policy Centre, December 2019

Brexit, transition and Northern Ireland
The UK in a Changing Europe, December 2019

Brexit, the democratic question in Europe, and the future of the EU
German Marshall Fund, December 2019

What does the Conservative election victory mean for Brexit?
Open Europe, December 2019

The first hundred days
Policy Exchange, December 2019

Boris Johnson’s next act: Saving the UK
Atlantic Council, December 2019

Brexit endgame: British voters back Boris and Brexit
Brookings Institution, December 2019

How economically damaging will Brexit be?
Centre for European Reform, November 2019

Just a little Brexit?
Centre for European Policy Studies, September 2019

Read this briefing on ‘2019: A year of challenges and choices‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/12/20/2019-a-year-of-challenges-and-choices-what-think-tanks-are-thinking/

Council of the European Union: Facts and Figures

Written by Aidan Christie and Eulalia Claros,

The Council of the European Union – often referred to as the Council of Ministers, or simply the Council – forms one part of the legislature and the budgetary authority of the Union. The Council and European Parliament together adopt much of the EU’s legislation and the Union’s annual budget, on the basis of proposals put forward by the executive, the European Commission. The Council also takes decisions on specific areas of EU action, in particular in Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), where it seeks to coordinate Member States’ positions, and concludes – subject to the consent of the Parliament – international agreements, usually negotiated by the Commission on the basis of a mandate from the Council.

The Council of the EU is distinct from the European Council, which is now a separate institution made up of the Heads of State or Government of the Member States. The European Council is responsible for defining the general political directions and priorities for the Union, but does not have formal legislative functions.

Read the complete briefing on ‘Council of the European Union: Facts and Figures‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/12/20/council-of-the-european-union-facts-and-figures/

European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT): Regulation and new strategic innovation agenda [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Cemal Karakas (1st edition),

© buffaloboy / Shutterstock.com

On 11 July 2019, the Commission presented its new legislative package on the European Institute of Innovation and Technology. The package consists of a recast of the current regulation and the new strategic innovation agenda.

Created in 2008 at the start of the seventh EU research and development framework programme, the EIT is dedicated to increasing competitiveness, sustainable economic growth and job creation by promoting knowledge triangle activities (higher education, research and innovation). It operates through eight ‘knowledge and innovation communities’ that address specific societal challenges, such as digitalisation, urban mobility, climate and raw materials and is part of Horizon 2020.


Stage: EESC

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/12/18/european-institute-of-innovation-and-technology-eit-regulation-and-new-strategic-innovation-agenda-eu-legislation-in-progress/

Outcome of the meetings of EU leaders, 12-13 December 2019

Written by Ralf Drachenberg and Suzana Anghel,

© European Union 2018 – Source : EP

At the first meeting chaired by the new President of the European Council, Charles Michel, EU Heads of State or Government gathered for meetings of the European Council, the European Council’s Article 50 formation and the Euro Summit. The main issues on the agenda of the European Council itself were climate change, the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), and the proposed Conference on the Future of Europe. Regarding climate change, the European Council announced an agreement on the objective of achieving a climate-neutral EU by 2050, despite the refusal of one Member State to commit to implementing this objective at this stage. On the MFF, the European Council did not reach agreement, but mandated its President to take the negotiations forward. The European Council also considered the idea of a Conference on the Future of Europe, and tasked the incoming Croatian Council Presidency to work towards defining a Council position on the matter, and on that basis, to engage with the European Parliament and the Commission. EU leaders also discussed a wide range of international issues, including relations with Turkey and Russia, notably the renewal of the economic sanctions on the latter, and the mounting terrorist activities in the Sahel. Following the general election in the United Kingdom, the European Council’s Article 50 formation called for the timely ratification and effective implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement, and confirmed its desire to establish as close as possible a future relationship with the UK. It invited the Commission to submit to the Council a draft comprehensive negotiating mandate for this process, to begin immediately after the UK’s withdrawal. The Euro Summit tasked the Eurogroup to continue working on the package of reforms to the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), and on all elements contributing to a stronger banking union. On the Budgetary Instrument for Convergence and Competitiveness (BICC), EU leaders invited the Eurogroup to swiftly provide appropriate solutions for its financing.

1. Implementation: Follow-up on previous European Council commitments

In accordance with Article 235(2) TFEU, the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, addressed the European Council at the start of its proceedings. The Prime Minister of Finland, Sanna Marin, President-in-Office of the Council, provided an overview on the progress made in implementing previous European Council conclusions.

Table 1: New European Council commitments and requests with a specific time schedule

2. European Council meeting

Climate change

EU leaders endorsed ‘the objective of achieving a climate-neutral EU by 2050’, although one of the Member States, Poland, could not commit to implementing this objective at this stage. Poland will not, for now, implement the objectives of the European Commission’s European Green Deal, which entail the adoption of a European Climate Law setting climate-neutrality by 2050 as a legally binding objective. EU leaders took note of the Commission communication on the European Green Deal and asks the Council ‘to take work’ forward with a view to enabling a fair, just and ‘socially balanced’ green transition, compliant with the Paris Agreement commitments. They agreed that ‘significant public and private investments’ were needed for a successful green transition and ‘welcomed’ the European Investment Bank’s intention ‘to support €1 trillion of investment’ in climate and environmental action between 2021 and 2030.

Funding clearly remains a sensitive issue. With several Member States concerned by the impact and cost of the green transition, the lack of clarity in the MFF ‘negotiating box’ put forward by the Finnish Presidency, with no indicative amount for the forthcoming Just Transition Mechanism, did not enable further progress. Prior to the meeting, the European Commission had announced its intention to mobilise €100 billion ‘targeted to the most vulnerable regions and sectors’, a proposal ‘welcomed’ by the European Council, and which could also be supported by Parliament. Moreover, EU leaders acknowledged the importance of mainstreaming climate in ‘all relevant EU legislation and policies’. They invited the Commission to propose adjustments to the existing (legislative) situation where necessary, including ‘on state aid and public procurement’.

The new European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, stated that the EU wished to remain a ‘front-runner’ in the fight against climate change and provide the world with a model, whilst the new European Council President, Charles Michel, stressed the geopolitical importance of climate diplomacy. The implementation of the Paris Agreement remains a key objective of the EU’s climate action, and the European Council reminded Member States of their obligation to submit their ‘nationally determined contributions (NDCs) for 2030 in good time before COP26’.

Main message of the EP President: The President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, stressed that climate change is the first concern of EU citizens and therefore, rightfully so, a priority for the EU institutions’ ‘shared agenda’. He recalled that, recently the Parliament had recognised climate change as an ‘existential threat’ to humanity and welcomed the Commission’s efforts to tackle it through its newly unveiled European Green Deal. President Sassoli urged EU leaders to support more ambitious climate action and to commit to climate-neutrality by 2050.

Multiannual Financial Framework

Based on the presentation of the negotiating box with figures by the outgoing Finnish Presidency, EU leaders briefly discussed the main features of the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). Without specifying a concrete deadline, the European Council called ‘on its President to take the negotiations forward with the aim of reaching a final agreement’.

Following the European Council meeting, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, laid out the working methods of the ‘next phase’ in agreeing the MFF, which is his responsibility in close cooperation with the Commission. He indicated that, in order to reach an agreement in the coming weeks or months, he will organise bilateral meetings at technical and political level, and then, judge when the time is right to reach the ’landing zone’ of the negotiations. Some of the most sensitive issues that need to be addressed include: the level of ambition, the question of rebates, conditionality, balance between classic priorities and new priorities (e.g. climate change) as well as own resources, which were to be discussed in close cooperation with the Parliament.

Main messages of the EP President: President Sassoli stressed the ‘need to find an agreement as quickly as possible in order to avoid delays in implementing the Union’s policies and programmes.’ As the Parliament’s position on the MFF is well known, President Sassoli expressed surprise at the latest proposal from the Finnish Presidency, which fell short of the expectations of all of the Parliament’s political groups. He pointed out that the Parliament regarded the decision on the multiannual budget as a ‘single package’, involving the introduction of a new own resources ‘basket’ as well as the increase of spending to 1.3 % of gross national income. He underlined that ‘no one should make the mistake of taking Parliament’s consent for granted without having listened to what it has to say.’

Conference on the Future of Europe

As flagged up in the EPRS Outlook, the European Council considered the idea of a Conference on the Future of Europe starting in 2020 and ending in 2022. It recalled ‘that priority should be given to implementing the Strategic Agenda agreed in June [2019], and to delivering concrete results for the benefit of our citizens’. The conference should contribute to the development of policies in the medium and long term so that we can better tackle current and future challenges. It should build on the citizens’ dialogues over the past two years and provide for broad consultation of citizens. It needs to be ‘an inclusive process, with all Member States involved equally.’ The European Council stressed that the process should ‘involve the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission, in full respect of the interinstitutional balance and their respective roles as defined in the Treaties’. It asked the Croatian Council Presidency ‘to work towards defining a Council position on the content, scope, composition and functioning of such a conference and to engage, on this basis, with the Parliament and the Commission.’ The Parliament is expected to adopt a resolution in January, in order to start discussions with the Council and the Commission early next year.

Main messages of the EP President: President Sassoli welcomed the Commission’s step of ‘proposing a conference, but [was] even more pleased that, for the first time in these 10 years, the Council/the Member States are also keen to launch a wide-ranging debate on the future of Europe and reach agreement on a shared vision of how we can improve our policy-making in order to achieve practical results and benefits for our citizens.’ He stressed that ‘Parliament, intend[s] to be a driving force in the organisation of the conference and in its proceedings.’ For President Sassoli, ‘it is vital that the Presidents of the three institutions show joint leadership by taking on a personal role in this process’.

Other Items

Working methods of the European Council

Charles Michel explained how he envisaged the future work of the European Council would be carried out, and presented to European Council members an ‘indicative agenda’ for its work over the coming years. He stressed that a concerted agenda, coordinated between the institutions (Council, Commission, Parliament), was a key element in advancing the European project.

International trade

EU leaders reiterated their full support for the global rules-based international order, and expressed their concern at the paralysis of the WTO’s mechanism for settling disputes. They supported the Commission’s efforts to set up interim arrangements with third countries, as has been done so far with Canada and Norway. They called on the co-legislators to examine the Commission’s proposal to amend the EU Enforcement Regulation. This will allow the EU to enforce international trade rules in circumstances where the WTO is no longer able to deliver binding dispute-settlement decisions.

EU-Africa partnership

The European Council called on the Commission and the High Representative to provide it with the necessary basis for a strategic discussion on EU relations with Africa at its meeting in June 2020. This discussion will contribute to the preparations ahead of the African Union-EU summit, scheduled for autumn 2020, which will be a milestone in modernising and scaling up the EU’s partnership with Africa. President Michel confirmed that EU leaders have discussed the security situation in West Africa and the Sahel, including counter-terrorism aspects, and deplored the deadly terrorist attack perpetrated in Niger. The development of a comprehensive partnership with Africa is viewed as a high priority in the political agendas of both the European Council and the Commission.

External relations

The European Council once again condemned Turkey’s illegal drilling activities in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus, and stressed that Turkey’s actions are in violation of the Law of the Sea. In November 2019, the Council adopted a framework for sanctions targeted against ‘individuals or entities responsible for, or involved in, unauthorised drilling activities of hydrocarbons in the Eastern Mediterranean’. President Michel said that the EU should nevertheless pursue dialogue with Turkey as well as cooperation on certain issues, including migration, but that it needed a ‘strategic vision’, including short and long-term goals, to define its bilateral relationship with Turkey.

The French President, Emmanuel Macron, and Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, informed their colleagues of the evolution of the situation in Ukraine, of the outcome of the recent Normandy format discussions and of the measures agreed. Considering the lack of progress in the implementation of the Minsk Agreements, EU leaders gave a green-light for the renewal, for a further six months, of the economic sanctions on Russia following its illegal annexation of Crimea.

The European Council expressed solidarity with Albania following the recent earthquake, and welcomed the European Commission’s commitment to provide humanitarian assistance.

The Euro Summit welcomed progress achieved in the Eurogroup on deepening economic and monetary union. EU leaders tasked the Eurogroup to continue working both on the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) reforms and on all elements aimed at further strengthening banking union. They also discussed the Budgetary Instrument for Convergence and Competitiveness (BICC), and invited the Eurogroup to find solutions for its financing, to meet the Euro Summit’s ambitions for convergence and competitiveness. President Michel will discuss the BICC with Member States in the context of MFF consultations, with the aim of finalising it together with the MFF package. He also mentioned that, in parallel to the work of the Eurogroup, the development of a long-term vision for the international role of the euro, matching the Union’s global economic and financial weight, would constitute an important focus in the coming months.

The UK general election, held on 12 December 2019, saw the Conservative Party win a clear majority of seats in the House of Commons, paving the way for the UK to leave the EU on 31 January 2020. The European Council reiterated its commitment to an orderly withdrawal based on the Withdrawal Agreement and called for the latter’s timely ratification and effective implementation. EU leaders invited the Commission to prepare a draft comprehensive negotiating mandate for the future EU-UK relationship, with a view to its adoption by the General Affairs Council. The future relationship needs to be based on a balance of rights and obligations and ensure a level playing field.

Read this briefing on ‘Outcome of the meetings of EU leaders, 12-13 December 2019‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/12/18/outcome-of-the-meetings-of-eu-leaders-12-13-december-2019/

What if we lived up to 150 years? [Science and Technology podcast]

Written by Lieve Van Woensel,

© Shutterstock

Life expectancy has been projected to continue to rise in industrialised countries, including in Europe, mostly due to increases in people reaching the age of 65 years and older. What if life expectancy in Europe rose further and reached 150 years? This publication approaches the concept of increased life expectancy in terms of increased adult life years, and discusses some hypothetical impacts and anticipatory policy issues.

Social, technological and healthcare system improvements have contributed to considerable longevity gains in Europe over the last 100 years, for example, improved prognosis and treatment of cancer and cardiovascular diseases, lower infant mortality rates, successful vaccination, and fewer deaths from infectious disease. A further 50 % increase in our lifespan, as seen in the last century, is unlikely to occur due to the same continued advance, but instead through progress in slowing the ageing process, which remains one of the least understood aspects of life. Advances have mostly been made at the cellular and genomic level, and a ‘cure for ageing’ (the debate on which is a topic in itself), is a long way off. One component of ageing is that our human cells undergo a finite number of replications or have a limited ‘lifespan’, with programmed cell senescence and death. Manipulation of this process, through genetics or even diet (e.g. caloric restriction) may extend longevity. However, quality of life and the extension of healthy life years are critically important, as opposed to simply extending life per se. Environmental improvements may also more immediately contribute to added life and healthy life years. Globally, 6.5 million deaths a year are attributed to air pollution alone, for example. Reducing car traffic or making cars more environmentally friendly (e.g. electric or hydrogen-fuelled cars) considerably improves air quality and can therefore extend life expectancy.

What if life expectancy in Europe reached 150 years? Coupled with a declining fertility rate, this would lead to a drastic change in demographics, with a considerable shift in balance towards an elderly population. Our social and physical environments would be significantly altered from a wide range of perspectives, resulting in major shifts in our framing of the education–work–retirement cycle; our household make-up; and our healthcare system, including the role of assistive technologies, for example. In this scenario, we consider an increasing elderly population on the assumption that overall population growth slows, and the impacts and policy considerations discussed below are therefore primarily focused on increasing population age, as opposed to an increasing population in number, which could also be a consequence of increased longevity.

A declining birth rate in Europe, due in part to better family planning, education, and the increasing average age of women when having their first child, is one factor in a changing working-age population. Fewer children per woman can be considered a positive in terms of environmental impact, and can lead to more women working, boosting the working-age population (a factor also determined by mortality and migration). However, an increasingly older population could nevertheless help preserve a working age population of the necessary size in the face of declining birth rates, on the premise that healthy life years, and retirement ages, are equally significantly prolonged. Maintaining a productive working population is essential to defer potential economic losses predicted from a declining birth rate and an older population. Society-wide attitudes to the education-work-retirement pattern would also need to be challenged to more adaptive thinking, including for example: gradual or ‘part-time’ retirement, career breaks, continuous upskilling and re-education, reconstruction of traditional ‘single’ path careers, and perhaps increased emphasis on voluntary and mentoring activities.

Younger generations are essential actors in the emergence of newer technologies, attitudes, and ideologies that can benefit the planet and society, with youth climate activists today providing a good example. Shifts towards continued education and methods to increase innovation, acceptance and open-mindedness may be necessary in a mainly older population. On the other hand, older people possess a valuable wealth of experience, knowledge and wisdom they can pass to subsequent generations in an educative, leadership or mentoring capacity. Social norms and age prejudice would, however, need to be tackled proactively, allowing a flow of dynamic intergenerational interaction.

The alternative scenario, where fertility rates do not decrease in line with extended life expectancy, and the global population continues to rise, would see detrimental consequences. The global burden on resources such as land, materials, energy, food and water, would be unsustainable at the current rate of consumption. Lifestyle ideologies and core values in high-income countries would need to be greatly reprogrammed to move away from materialistic preferences and to reduce consumption, waste and carbon footprints.

Diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases are some of the leading causes of death worldwide, with overweight and obesity being considerable underlying factors, associated with heavy comorbidity and an economic burden. Age itself is a major risk factor for various diseases, particularly cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. If the average life expectancy were extended to 150 years, this might sharply increase the prevalence of age-related disease and disability. Frailty, bone fractures and sleep disturbance are also more common in older adults. In addition to physical health, mental health must also be taken into account in considerations of quality of life.

If the European population were to live to 150 years on average, living conditions will have to be rethought, with residential and working locations in question. Sustainably developed housing and communities would also be required, to encourage diversity, inclusion and social wellbeing for all age groups.

Policies to promote healthy ageing are vital to populations that live better for longer. These could include: sustained funding for research into healthy ageing, disease prevention, and therapeutics; adaptation of the built environment and transportation systems; and assistive technologies to promote independence. Healthcare systems, including insurance and delivery of care, may need to be reimagined, with a higher emphasis perhaps placed on community settings and at-home care to relieve over-subscribed hospitals, institutions and medical staff. Increased use of volunteers and robots could help relieve or replace staff.

Continued and more drastic approaches would be needed to promote renewable energy, reduce single-use plastics and pollution, and increase incentives for a zero-waste culture and sustainable living.

The importance of mental health is not only relevant to the elderly population but throughout all stages of life, particularly as the working age range widens, with citizens potentially working for many more years. Future policies may promote a broader appreciation of the benefits of meditation and other mind-body techniques, such as yoga and tai chi, as well as of the role of healthy eating and nutrition. Linked to this is the need for sustainable food.

Another area that deserves more attention is the consideration of euthanasia and access to assisted dying. Such policies have triggered considerable ethical and legal debate and have major implications for policy.

Important policy considerations in both scenarios chiefly centre around extending healthy lifespan, shifting the education–work–retirement pattern and advancing eco-conscious lifestyles. Promotion of mental wellbeing, and research into all biological and societal aspects of healthy ageing are paramount. Finally, access to the means to live better for longer will not be sustainable unless it is equally attainable by persons from all socio-demographic groups, and must not be determined by education level, wealth, race, beliefs, gender or other prejudices. European Union legislation supporting equal access to healthcare, pensions, employment, education, and end-of-life decisions must therefore be reviewed in the light of this expected demographic change.

Read this ‘at a glance’ on ‘What if we lived up to 150 years?‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Listen to Science and Technology podcast ‘What if life expectancy reached 150 years?’ on YouTube.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/12/17/what-if-we-lived-up-to-150-years-science-and-technology-podcast/

Irrigation in EU agriculture [Policy podcast]

Written by Rachele Rossi,

© nd3000 / Shutterstock.com

Irrigation is the provision of water to help crops grow when rainfall is not sufficient. While new farming methods and technologies allow some types of crops to be grown without soil, a certain amount of water is needed to grow any kind of crop. In today’s economy, agriculture is one of the sectors that consumes the most water resources. Irrigation is the major cause of water consumption in agriculture. It contributes to increasing crop productivity, but it is also a threat to the preservation of water resources. Therefore, the issue of water scarcity requires careful reflection on the trade-off between higher agricultural productivity and the deterioration of water resources.

A number of elements determine the amount of irrigation water used in agriculture, from the types of crop and cropping method to the characteristics of the soil and the irrigation technique, to name just a few. Therefore, agriculture itself provides opportunities for better water management and water savings, through both traditional farm practices and new farming technologies.

Irrigation has been a feature of European agriculture for thousands of years. Not surprisingly, the majority of irrigated agricultural areas are in the EU’s southern regions, in particular in Spain and Italy. However, there are areas equipped for irrigation elsewhere, especially in the Netherlands. Over 40 % of the EU’s water use is on agriculture, and most of the freshwater abstraction is for agricultural use in countries like Greece, Spain, and Cyprus.

Prolonged periods of drought in many parts of the Union, the effects of climate change and pollution, as well as competition over use add further pressure on EU waters. Ensuring food security in view of climate change requires improvement in water-management capacity, including making users (farmers) more responsible. In recent times, the environmental performance of sectoral policies, such as in the area of agriculture, is increasingly scrutinised by citizens, stakeholders, and policy-makers. Various EU policy initiatives have been launched to address the challenge of sustainable water use in agriculture, including a more integrated approach to water management, water re-use, research and innovation, and more environmental ambition in the agricultural policy. Better policy coordination between EU policies and actions is seen as key to achieving the sustainable safeguarding of EU waters.

Volume of water used for irrigation in the EU in 2010 (% of total cubic metres)

Volume of water used for irrigation in the EU in 2010 (% of total cubic metres)

Read the complete briefing on ‘Irrigation in EU agriculture‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Listen to policy podcast ‘Irrigation in EU agriculture’ on YouTube.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/12/17/irrigation-in-eu-agriculture-policy-podcast/

The EU poultry meat and egg sector: Main features, challenges and prospects [Policy podcast]

Written by Marie-Laure Augère-Granier,

Red Chicken

Poultry meat is the second most produced and consumed meat in the European Union, after pig meat. The sector is known as one of the most intensive farming systems in the EU, with some farms numbering more than 100 000 birds. This intensive system features high stocking densities, indoor rearing and the use of fast-growing breeds obtained by genetic selection. It is estimated that 90 % of meat chickens are raised in such systems in the EU. However, alternative chicken production systems (free-range and organic) are on the increase in many EU countries. As regards egg production, the 400 million laying hens kept throughout the EU produce close to 7.5 million tonnes of eggs a year.

EU chicken and egg producers are supported by the common market organisation, as part of the common agricultural policy (CAP), which regulates trade, marketing standards and exceptional support measures in the event of disease outbreaks. Producers can also receive investment support from the CAP’s second pillar, through various rural development measures co-funded by the Member States. Research carried out in the poultry sector is also supported by rural development funds within the agricultural strand of the European Innovation Partnership.

The poultry and egg sectors are governed by a number of EU legislative acts. These span food safety, public and animal health, environmental protection, trade and marketing standards, and animal welfare throughout the production process, including transport and slaughter. Specific legislation lays down minimum rules and specific requirements for the protection of chickens and laying hens.

Many of the issues currently affecting the sector are linked to its large-scale and intensive production methods. While high stocking densities and fast growth impact negatively on poultry welfare, intensive production can also be detrimental to the environment and human health.

When it comes to international trade, the EU is among the top four chicken meat producers, along with the United States, Brazil and China. Its trade balance is positive in volume and the EU is expected to increase its exports as global demand is set to remain strong, particularly in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. The EU is also the world’s second largest producer of eggs, after China, and a net exporter of eggs and egg products.

In a recent non-legislative resolution on animal welfare, antimicrobial use and the environmental impact of industrial broiler farming, Parliament expressed its concern about the inappropriate implementation of the EU directive on the protection of broilers by some Member States and the increase in multi-drug-resistant zoonotic agents in chicken farming. It therefore called on the European Commission to draw up a roadmap to promote better chicken farming practices.

Read the complete in-depth analysis on ‘The EU poultry meat and egg sector: Main features, challenges and prospects‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Listen to policy podcast ‘What do you know about chickens and eggs?’ on YouTube.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/12/17/the-eu-poultry-meat-and-egg-sector-main-features-challenges-and-prospects-policy-podcast/

Amazon wildfire crisis: Need for an international response [Policy podcast]

Written by Enrique Gomez Ramirez,

The Amazon rainforest, which is the largest ecosystem of its kind on Earth and is shared by eight South American countries as well as an EU outermost region, was ravaged by fires coinciding with last summer’s dry season. However, most of these fires are set intentionally and are linked to increased human activities in the area, such as the expansion of agriculture and cattle farming, illegal logging, mining and fuel extraction.

Although a recurrent phenomenon that has been going on for decades, some governments’ recent policies appear to have contributed to the increase in the surface area burnt in 2019, in particular in Brazil and Bolivia. Worldwide media coverage of the fires, and international and domestic protests against these policies have nevertheless finally led to some initiatives to seriously tackle the fires, both at national and international level – such as the Leticia Pact for Amazonia.

Finding a viable long-term solution to end deforestation and achieve sustainable development in the region, requires that the underlying causes are addressed and further action is taken at both national and international levels. The EU is making, and can increase, its contribution by cooperating with the affected countries and by leveraging the future EU-Mercosur Association Agreement to help systematic law enforcement action against deforestation. In addition, as the environmental commitments made at the 2015 Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris will have to be renewed in 2020, COP25 in December 2019 could help reach new commitments on forests.

Amazonian region

Amazonian region

Read the complete briefing on ‘Amazon wildfire crisis: Need for an international response‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Listen to policy podcast ‘Threat to the Amazon rainforest needs an urgent response’ on YouTube.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/12/16/amazon-wildfire-crisis-need-for-an-international-response-policy-podcast/