Месечни архиви: февруари 2021

Outcome of the European Council video-conference of 25 February 2021

Written by Ralf Drachenberg,

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For the tenth time since the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis, the European Council met by video-conference, however this time in two separate sessions. The first, on 25 February, dealing with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and ways of increasing the EU’s health resilience, is covered in this paper, while the second, the following morning, addressed security and defence as well as the southern neighbourhood, and is covered by a separate paper. Regarding the pandemic, EU leaders called for acceleration in the authorisation, production and distribution of vaccines, reiterated their solidarity with third countries, and acknowledged that non-essential travel still needed to be restricted while ensuring the unhindered flow of goods and services within the single market. To strengthen the EU’s resilience to future health emergencies, EU leaders will seek to improve coordination to ensure better prevention, preparedness and response. However, further EU integration in health policy was excluded, with the conclusions stressing that these actions should be carried out ‘in line with the Union competences under the Treaties’. EU leaders also called on the Commission to draw up a report on the lessons learned from this crisis, to take forward the work on the European health union, and underlined the need for a global approach, including an international treaty on pandemics.

Meeting format and video-conference conclusions

The Leaders’ Agenda for 2020-21 envisaged a physical European Council meeting in February 2021. However, due to the still serious health situation, it was replaced by video-conferences. Despite the informal nature of the meeting, the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, was invited to present Parliament’s view, which is not the case for most video-conferences of the European Council. This was the 14th time the European Council has addressed the coronavirus crisis in a period of just under 12 months, underlining its role as Covid-19 crisis manager. Nine of these exchanges took place by video-conference, but their results have taken different formats, notably, three ‘President’s conclusions‘, three ’President’s remarks’, one ‘oral President’s conclusions’ and, for this meeting, two statements. While the meaning of these different labels is neither obvious nor explained, it suggests a distinction in nature to that of formal conclusions of a physical European Council meeting, which have been qualified as ‘political orientations’.

EU coordination efforts in response to the coronavirus pandemic

EU coordination efforts

Over the past year, the European Council has met regularly to take stock of the epidemiological situation and to coordinate efforts in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Recent challenges regarding the production and roll-out of vaccines across the EU, have led to criticism of the European Commission. On 10 February, in the European Parliament, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen acknowledged some mistakes in the handing of the vaccine acquisition process, but remained firm that ordering vaccines jointly and sharing them in a spirit of solidarity was the right decision. MEPs addressed some of the mistakes made, but also stressed that the overall strategy – to purchase vaccines jointly – was the right one. EU leaders emphasised their determination to continue working together and coordinate their actions to tackle the pandemic and its consequences, keeping the overall situation under close review.

Vaccine delivery

The European Council agreed on the need to accelerate the authorisation, production and distribution of vaccines, as well as the vaccination process. Ahead of the meeting, Charles Michel stressed that the ‘main challenge is to speed up #COVID19 vaccine delivery to Member States so they can implement their vaccination campaigns’. EU leaders expressed their support for the Commission’s ‘on-going efforts to accelerate the availability of raw materials, facilitate agreements between manufacturers across supply chains, scope existing facilities so as to help production scale-up in the EU and further the research and development of vaccines to protect against variants’. Prior to the meeting, Belgium, Denmark, Lithuania, Poland and Spain called for the strengthening of vaccine production in the EU. In order to boost production capacity in Europe, the Commission has set-up a task force for industrial scale-up of Covid-19 vaccines, to facilitate a more integrated and strategic public-private partnership with industry. It will also provide operational support for addressing potential bottlenecks in production and supply of raw materials and other essential input required for vaccines manufacturing. Addressing the European Council, President Sassoli stressed ‘it was forward-looking of our governments to give the Commission the mandate to procure vaccines to distribute among all 27 Member States’.

Coronavirus variants

Considering the possible resistance of future coronavirus variants to existing vaccines, EU leaders called for enhancement of the EU’s surveillance and detection capacity to identify variants as early as possible. To anticipate such developments, the Commission launched a new bio-defence preparedness plan named HERA Incubator. The objective is ‘to access and mobilise all means and resources necessary to prevent, mitigate and respond to the potential impact of [coronavirus] variants’. EU leaders stressed that ‘companies must ensure predictability of their vaccine production and respect contractual delivery deadlines’. On 17 February, the Commission approved a second contract with the pharmaceutical company Moderna, providing an additional 300 million doses. This adds to the contracts already signed with BioNTech/Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Sanofi-GSK, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, Curevac and Moderna.

The movement of persons

Currently eight Member States (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Portugal and Spain) have set temporary internal border controls due to Covid-19. Seven of them introduced them despite the EU leaders’ statement at their last video-conference meeting, on 21 January 2021, that ‘borders need to stay open to ensure the functioning of the single market, including the flow of essential goods and services. No indiscriminate travel bans should be imposed.’ The latest European Council meeting took a more nuanced approach, acknowledging that ‘for the time being, non-essential travel needs to be restricted’, while stressing that ‘the unhindered flow of goods and services in the single market must continue to be ensured’. It welcomed two new Council recommendations on travel within, and into, the EU, as well as the progress made on a common approach to vaccination certificates, calling for this work to continue.

Covid-19 and third countries

EU leaders reaffirmed their solidarity with third countries, and the aim of improving access to vaccines for priority groups in the neighbourhood and beyond, through COVAX, a global vaccine procurement facility.

Strengthening the EU’s resilience to health threats

EU leaders had a first exchange of views on ways of strengthening the EU’s health resilience in the long term. The Commission was invited to present a report on the lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic ahead of the June European Council meeting, which would be followed up in the second half of 2021. Prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, health was a policy issue which received very limited attention from the European Council; and had not previously featured as a separate agenda point at a European Council meeting. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, health has become one of the main concerns for Europeans, as shown by recent Eurobarometer surveys. When asked what the EU should now prioritise in its response to the coronavirus outbreak, citizens prioritised ‘developing financial means to find a treatment or vaccine’; ‘establishing a strategy for facing a similar crisis in the future’; and ‘developing a European health policy’. EP President Sassoli thus underlined that modifying the Treaties to incorporate clearly defined competences for the EU institutions ‘can no longer be a taboo’.

European health union

EU leaders agreed to ‘improve EU coordination, in line with the Union competences under the Treaties, to ensure better prevention, preparedness for and response to future health emergencies’. Priority will be given to the development of safe and effective vaccines and medicines, early investment in production capacity and making best use of big data and digital technologies for medical research and healthcare. EU Heads of State or Government called for the work on the European health union to be taken forward.

Global multilateral cooperation on future health threats

EU leaders committed to advancing global health security, including by strengthening the World Health Organization, and supported President Michel’s idea for an international treaty on pandemics, which could be addressed during the 21 May 2021 G20 Global Health Summit in Rome.


Read this ‘at a glance’ on ‘Outcome of the European Council video-conference of 25 February 2021‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2021/02/27/outcome-of-the-european-council-video-conference-of-25-february-2021/

When are online platforms liable for illegal or harmful content?

Written by Mihalis Kritikos,

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The current EU liability framework is incredibly complex and often inadapted to modern entities. It is therefore difficult for the subjects involved to understand exactly when a given obligation applies to them, and what kind of behaviour is required. This was one of the main conclusions of the study on ‘Liability of online platforms‘, carried out by Professor Andrea Bertolini of the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna (Pisa) at the request of the STOA Panel, following a proposal from Christian Ehler (EPP, Germany), First Vice-Chair of the Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA).

Online platforms (OPs) have gained significant economic and societal importance in the last decade and the public debate on their responsibilities and liability has reached an unprecedented level. They have penetrated all product and service markets and have changed the way in which goods are sold and purchased, and in which information is exchanged and obtained, allowing a shift from the off-line world to the online environment, where they provide numerous digital services including the mass diffusion of any type of content, both legal and illegal.

As a result of their growing importance, users and policy-makers raise questions about the platforms’ responsibility in the digital domain. The contractual responsibility of online platform operators has been subject to an intensive debate in the recent past, in the frame of the debate on the effective detection and removal of illegal material. While the operators of transaction platforms usually seek a role of mere intermediary, without considerable liability for the proper performance of the main contracts, there is increasing support for extending their responsibility. Moreover, the lack of international legal mechanisms to enforce the removal of abusive material complicates the tracing and prosecution of abusive behaviours online. Self-regulation efforts appear suboptimal, due to the presence of externalities and asymmetric information problems, warranting some form of liability rules.

What are the main legal/regulatory challenges associated with the operation of OPs and the efforts to detect and remove illegal/harmful material, content and/or products? Can we map the whole range of liabilities associated with the operation of online platforms and provide the conceptual clarifications necessary to address them systematically? Is the existing EU legal framework adequate to ensure protection for users and their fundamental rights and freedoms? Does the current liability regime reflect the position of users and platforms alone? Does it adequately address the interests of third parties that are potentially violated by user-generated content?

Against this background, the study identifies and assesses the relevant legal framework at the EU level, discussing the policy issues that deserve consideration, and identifies the possible policy issues and concerns, with respect to the application of the existing legal framework – comprised of both hard- and soft-law initiatives – deserving discussion and, in some cases at least, even regulatory intervention. The review of the main legal/regulatory challenges associated with the operation of OPs involves an analysis of the incentives for OPs, their users and third parties, to detect and remove illegal/harmful material, content and/or products.

One of the most important aspects of the study is the detailed discussion of the notion of OPs and the comprehensive classification it provides on the basis of multiple criteria. In fact, it maps and critically assesses the whole range of OP liabilities, taking hard and soft law, self-regulation, as well as national legislation, into consideration.

In doing so, the study sets out a much-needed conceptual framework by analysing the difference between responsibility and liability, and the different types of liability, distinguishing, on the one hand, between civil, criminal and administrative liability and between strict, semi-strict or fault-based liability on the other hand. It also makes an important distinction between liabilities connected with the activities performed or the content uploaded by OP users and alternative sources of liability, such as OPs’ contractual liability towards users, both businesses and consumers, as well as that deriving from infringements of privacy and data protection law. The proposed classifications demonstrate their plurality, as platforms differ pursuant to the activities and functions they serve, the multiplicity of actors they involve and the various ways in which they interact with them in their operation, their different sources of revenue and associated business models, the way in which they use and exploit data, and the level of control they exercise on users’ activities.

Against the analysis of OPs’ rights, duties and liabilities under the existing EU regulatory framework, the study suggests a set of policy options which could be used to shape this framework regarding the liability of OPs, and especially that relating to the illegal/harmful content or products distributed and/or made available through their infrastructures, such as content that infringes intellectual property rights (IPR), hate speech, terrorist content, content that harms children, counterfeit and unsafe products.

One of the most innovative aspects of the study is that the policy options are assessed against a variety of criteria including cost and benefits, feasibility and effectiveness, sustainability, their coherence with EU objectives, ethical, social and regulatory impacts and the effects on EU citizens’ fundamental rights and freedoms, and presented along a scale of increasing interventionism.

This new STOA study provides a timely, in-depth overview of the discussion on the liabilities of OPs that will inform the discussions on the recent European Commission proposal on a Digital Services Acts, which aims to establish a new, comprehensive transparency and accountability regime for OPs. While proposing the maintenance of the liability exemptions for tech companies by not subjecting them to a general monitoring obligation regarding user content, this legislative proposal proposes that, in certain circumstances, platforms could be held liable for third-party content, for instance, when failing to act after being alerted of illegal content. The study is expected to provide EU legislators with a wide range of pragmatic and well-balanced policy options during the discussion of this proposal.

Read the full report and accompanying STOA Options Brief to find out more.

Your opinion counts for us. To let us know what you think, get in touch via stoa@europarl.europa.eu.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2021/02/26/when-are-online-platforms-liable-for-illegal-or-harmful-content/

Support for democracy through EU external policy: New tools for growing challenges

Written by Ionel Zamfir,

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The crisis of democracy and the rise of authoritarianism across the globe, compounded by the coronavirus pandemic, highlight the importance of taking a more strategic and autonomous approach to supporting democracy worldwide – an objective often balanced against other external policy aims until now.

Since the start of the current parliamentary term, the EU has reviewed its political guidance on democracy and human rights. It has adopted or is about to adopt important measures to strengthen support for democracy (including better monitoring and enforcement of relevant provisions in trade arrangements). The adoption of the new multiannual financial framework (MFF) and of a new development aid instrument bringing together all former external aid instruments provides new opportunities for better implementing EU funding and better exploiting the EU’s leverage as a major provider of development aid. Digital challenges and the narrowing space for civil societies are among the priorities to be addressed. The challenge of engaging more difficult partners, such as China and Russia, has inspired calls to broaden the scope of a values-based agenda to other economic relations, such as investments.

These new measures complement an already broad and complex toolbox integrating various external policies. Using the enhanced powers in external affairs provided by the Treaty of Lisbon, the EU has set up extensive political and diplomatic dialogues to enhance partnerships beyond the more asymmetric, specific development assistance and trade leverage going back to the 1990s. While the EU has responded to violations of democratic norms by reducing aid and withdrawing trade preferences, it has consistently sought to build equal partnerships based on constructive and open dialogues, rather than use its economic and commercial traction in a coercive manner.

This is an update of a Briefing from February 2018.


Read the complete briefing on ‘Support for democracy through EU external policy: New tools for growing challenges‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2021/02/26/support-for-democracy-through-eu-external-policy-new-tools-for-growing-challenges/

Revision of the TEN-E Regulation: EU guidelines for new energy infrastructure [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Alex Benjamin Wilson (1st edition),

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On 15 December 2020, the European Commission adopted a proposal to revise the 2013 regulation on trans-European networks in energy (TEN-E). The revised TEN-E Regulation is currently under discussion in the European Parliament and the Council, which will prepare their negotiating positions. The 2013 TEN-E Regulation sets out EU guidelines for cross-border energy infrastructure and outlines the process for selecting projects of common interest (PCI). PCIs are infrastructure projects considered essential for delivering on EU objectives in the energy field, including improved interconnection between national markets, greater competitiveness, security of supply, and promotion of renewable energy sources. The list of PCIs is updated every two years. Some PCI projects are eligible for EU financing from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). The revised TEN-E Regulation would align closely with the ambitious climate neutrality objectives of the European Green Deal, primarily by supporting energy infrastructure that consolidates new and existing clean energy technologies, and by ending policy and financial support for fossil fuel projects, which would no longer be included on PCI lists and thus unable to receive CEF funding.

Complete version

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2021/02/26/revision-of-the-ten-e-regulation-eu-guidelines-for-new-energy-infrastructure-eu-legislation-in-progress/

New EU regulatory framework for batteries: Setting sustainability requirements [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Vivienne Halleux (1st edition),

© frank peters / Adobe Stock

Given the important role they play in the rollout of zero-emission mobility and the storage of intermittent renewable energy, batteries are a crucial element in the EU’s transition to a climate neutral economy. Global battery demand is expected to increase 14-fold by 2030, making this market an increasingly strategic one. The proposal presented by the European Commission is designed to modernise the EU’s regulatory framework for batteries in order to secure the sustainability and competitiveness of battery value chains. It would introduce mandatory requirements on sustainability (such as carbon footprint rules, minimum recycled content, performance and durability criteria), safety and labelling for the marketing and putting into service of batteries, and requirements for end-of-life management. The proposal also includes due diligence obligations for economic operators as regards the sourcing of raw materials.

The legislative process is in its early stages. In the Council, the proposal is being examined by the Working Party on the Environment. In Parliament, the file has been referred to the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection, which appointed Antonius Manders as rapporteur.

Complete version

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2021/02/23/new-eu-regulatory-framework-for-batteries-setting-sustainability-requirements-eu-legislation-in-progress/

What is the European Union (EU) doing to combat corruption in EU countries?

Businessman hand offer bribes money in envelope for signing in a contract of business project, Government officials refused, concept of corruption and anti bribery.

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Citizens recurrently turn to the European Parliament to comment on various cases of alleged corruption. Furthermore, they request information on how to lodge a complaint and to ask the EU to act in the fight against corruption.

Corruption remains a challenge for society as a whole and is a serious crime that can have a cross-border dimension. Fighting crime is primarily a competence of authorities in EU countries, which remain ultimately responsible for key aspects linked to the fight against corruption: law enforcement, judicial measures taken on the ground, and budgetary resources allocated to policing and the administration of justice.

According to Article 83 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), the European Union may establish minimum rules to define criminal offences and sanctions in the areas of particularly serious crime with a cross-border dimension, such as money laundering, corruption and organised crime.

In February 2014, the European Commission presented an EU Anti-corruption Report. Although intended as the first of a series, in 2017, the Commission decided not to produce any updates. Since its publication, the report has served as the basis for dialogue with national authorities while also informing broader debates across Europe.

European Parliament action

In a 2016 resolution on the fight against corruption, the European Parliament called inter alia for the adoption of a European action plan to eradicate organised crime, corruption and money laundering, for a stronger legal framework and for better cross-border judicial cooperation. It also recommended that EU countries strive to ensure efficient transparency, monitoring and accountability mechanisms in their use of EU funds.

In September 2020, the European Parliament set up a Subcommittee on tax matters (FISC) to assist the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) on tax-related matters and particularly the fight against tax fraud, tax evasion and tax avoidance. According to a 2016 Eurobarometer survey, 75 % of EU citizens would like the EU to intervene more to tackle tax fraud, making it one of the areas with the strongest support for greater EU involvement.

EU rules against corruption

Among the legislative initiatives introduced in recent years to combat corruption at EU level, examples include the Directive on the Freezing and confiscation of proceeds of crime, the 5th Anti-money laundering Directive, the Public Procurement Directives and the Directive on the Use of financial information to fight certain criminal offences.

In May 2018, the Commission published a legislative proposal aiming to establish an EU anti-fraud programme. The programme is based on Article 325 of the TFEU, which provides for an obligation shared between EU countries and the EU to protect the Union’s financial interests and to counter fraud, corruption and any other illegal activities affecting them.

Fraud against the EU budget

The European Commission publishes an annual report on the fight against fraud affecting EU financial interests. As the EU prepares to mobilise unprecedented sums to tackle the coronavirus crisis and its consequences, the positive results achieved in recent years provide a solid basis to meet future challenges for European and national authorities in their fight against fraud.

EU mechanisms to fight corruption

In the framework of the cooperation and verification mechanism for Bulgaria and Romania, the European Commission regularly reports on advancement with judicial reform and the fight against corruption in these countries, inviting them to take action in different areas, in order to develop the effective administrative and judicial systems.

The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) is an EU body mandated to investigate fraud against the EU budget, corruption and serious misconduct within the European institutions, and to develop anti-fraud policy for the European Commission. Anyone can contact the office anonymously to report cases of fraud. Once it concludes an investigation, the European Anti-Fraud Office recommends action to the EU institutions and national governments concerned: this usually includes launching criminal investigations, financial recoveries or other disciplinary measures. It then monitors how these recommendations are implemented.

The European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) is a new body responsible for investigating, prosecuting and bringing to judgment crimes against the financial interests of the European Union. The European Public Prosecutor’s Office has a decentralised but hierarchical structure composed of European prosecutors at EU level and European delegated prosecutors in each EU country. Currently, 22 EU countries participate in the enhanced cooperation (so far, Hungary, Poland and Sweden have decided not to join the EPPO, while Denmark and Ireland have an opt-out from the area of freedom, security and justice). As an autonomous body, the EPPO could overcome potential unwillingness on the part of national authorities to investigate certain sensitive corruption cases. Once the European Public Prosecutor’s Office has finalised its administrative set-up, it will be possible to report a criminal offence affecting the EU’s financial interests directly to the EPPO.

Further information

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

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2021/02/22/what-is-the-european-union-eu-doing-to-combat-corruption-in-eu-countries/

The NIS2 Directive: A high common level of cybersecurity in the EU [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Mar Negreiro (1st edition),

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The Network and Information Security (NIS) Directive is the first piece of EU-wide legislation on cybersecurity, and its specific aim was to achieve a high common level of cybersecurity across the Member States. While it increased the Member States’ cybersecurity capabilities, its implementation proved difficult, resulting in fragmentation at different levels across the internal market.

To respond to the growing threats posed with digitalisation and the surge in cyber-attacks, the Commission has submitted a proposal to replace the NIS Directive and thereby strengthen the security requirements, address the security of supply chains, streamline reporting obligations, and introduce more stringent supervisory measures and stricter enforcement requirements, including harmonised sanctions across the EU. The proposed expansion of the scope covered by the NIS2, by effectively obliging more entities and sectors to take measures, would assist in increasing the level of cybersecurity in Europe in the longer term.

Within the European Parliament, the file has been assigned to the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy.

Complete version

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2021/02/22/the-nis2-directive-a-high-common-level-of-cybersecurity-in-the-eu-eu-legislation-in-progress/

Hydrogen as an energy carrier for a climate-neutral economy

Written by Gregor Erbach and Liselotte Jensen,

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Hydrogen is expected to play a key role in a future climate-neutral economy, enabling emission-free transport, heating and industrial processes as well as inter-seasonal energy storage. Clean hydrogen produced with renewable electricity is a zero-emission energy carrier, but is not yet as cost-competitive as hydrogen produced from natural gas. A number of studies show that an EU energy system having a significant proportion of hydrogen and renewable gases would be more cost-effective than one relying on extensive electrification.

Research and industrial innovation in hydrogen applications is an EU priority and receives substantial EU funding through the research framework programmes. Hydrogen projects are managed by the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU), a public-private partnership supported by the European Commission.

The EU hydrogen strategy, adopted in July 2020, aims to accelerate the development of clean hydrogen. The European Clean Hydrogen Alliance, established at the same time, is a forum bringing together industry, public authorities and civil society, to coordinate investment.

Almost all EU Member States recognise the important role of hydrogen in their national energy and climate plans for the 2021-2030 period. About half have explicit hydrogen-related objectives, focussed primarily on transport and industry.

In the European Parliament, the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) is preparing an own-initiative report on the EU Hydrogen strategy. The Council adopted conclusions on the EU hydrogen market in December 2020, with a focus on renewable hydrogen for decarbonisation, recovery and competitiveness.


Read the complete briefing on ‘Hydrogen as an energy carrier for a climate-neutral economy‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2021/02/19/hydrogen-as-an-energy-carrier-for-a-climate-neutral-economy/

Cohesion policy contribution to New European Bauhaus

Written by Agnieszka Widuto,

© Stockfotos-MG / Adobe Stock

The New European Bauhaus is a European Commission initiative, which links the sustainability, aesthetics and inclusion dimensions of building design. Announced in September 2020 by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the project has now entered the design phase, which involves exploring ideas, launching the New European Bauhaus prize and opening calls for proposals to bring the new ideas to life through the use of EU funds at national and regional level. EU cohesion policy, through its support for environmental, socio-economic and cultural projects, can make a significant contribution to the New European Bauhaus.

New European Bauhaus initiative

The New European Bauhaus project was announced by Ursula von der Leyen in her State of the Union address on 16 September 2020. The name makes reference to the early 20th century Bauhaus architectural movement, which sought to combine art and practicality. In the words of the Commission President, the initiative ‘is about matching sustainability with style, to bring the European Green Deal closer to people’s minds and homes’. The project aims to involve designers, artists, scientists, architects and citizens to co-create these ideas and put them into practice. It will take place in three phases – design, delivery and dissemination (see box below). On the occasion of launching the ‘design phase’ on 18 January 2021, the Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira described the project as ‘relevant for all regions and territories’, and confirmed that the Commission is exploring how EU funding tools could be mobilised to support concrete New European Bauhaus actions. The 2020 Commission communication on ‘A Renovation Wave for Europe – greening our buildings, creating jobs, improving lives’ also highlights the role of cohesion policy funding for renovation of buildings, while respecting cultural heritage, sustainability and social inclusion aspects.

Cohesion policy

Cohesion policy accounts for about one third of the EU budget. It supports a wide range of investments in all EU regions, in areas such as innovation, economic transformation, energy transition, transport and digital networks, social inclusion and sustainable urban development across the EU. In the 2021-2027 budgetary period, cohesion policy will be governed by the Common Provisions Regulation to be adopted in the coming months. The provisional agreement on the proposed regulation establishes five policy objectives for regional funding. These include the financing of environmental, cultural and socio-economic inclusion projects, which could support New European Bauhaus actions.

Support for the environment

The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Cohesion Fund (CF) will offer support in a variety of areas relevant to the New European Bauhaus project, with particular relevance to its ‘sustainability’ strand. The policy objective on ‘a greener Europe’ includes promoting energy efficiency measures, renewable energy, smart energy systems and grids, climate change adaptation, risk prevention and disaster resilience, sustainable water management, circular economy, and reducing pollution. In the 2021-2027 period, Member States will be required to allocate at least 8 % of their ERDF resources to sustainable urban development, while over 30 % of ERDF resources and CF resources must be set aside for climate objectives.

Moreover, the new Just Transition Fund (JTF) aims to address the social, economic and environmental impacts of the transition towards a climate-neutral economy in high-emission regions. The Fund is governed by cohesion policy rules and included in the Common Provisions Regulation. Some activities supported by JTF could be relevant in the context of the New European Bauhaus. These include investments in the deployment of technology and infrastructure for affordable clean energy, in greenhouse gas emission reduction, energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Support for culture

The Common Provisions Regulation for 2021-2027 also supports interventions in the area of ‘arts, entertainment, creative industries and recreation’, which are important themes in the context of the New European Bauhaus thanks to its focus on aesthetics and culture. One of the five policy objectives (‘a Europe closer to citizens’) also covers cultural heritage. The cultural dimension of the New European Bauhaus may also be supported under the European Social Fund Plus, which is an instrument supporting employment, skills development and social inclusion. The European Regional Development Fund with its support for enterprises, research activities and skills development may also support New European Bauhaus actions encompassing collaborative projects in these areas. The REACT-EU programme (funded from Next Generation EU but delivered under cohesion policy rules) also offers support for those sectors most hit by the coronavirus pandemic, including the cultural sector.

Support for socio-economic projects

The socio-economic aspects of the New European Bauhaus and its focus on inclusion may be addressed under the policy objective of ‘a smarter Europe’. Aimed at promoting innovative and smart economic transformation, specific supported actions include enhancing research and innovation capacities and the uptake of advanced technologies, boosting digitalisation, supporting enterprises and developing skills for smart specialisation, industrial transition and entrepreneurship. Support relevant to the New European Bauhaus could also be drawn from investments under the policy objective on ‘a more social Europe’. These include, for instance, social innovation and the socioeconomic integration of marginalised communities, migrants and disadvantaged groups, through integrated measures including housing and social services. Moreover, the policy objective on ‘a Europe closer to citizens’ offers support for integrated social, economic and environmental development, including through community-led local development. This again presents opportunities for the New European Bauhaus project in the context of its ‘inclusiveness’ strand.

Outlook

Cohesion policy in the 2021-2027 period will offer several opportunities to support the New European Bauhaus project. These include energy efficiency measures, renovation of buildings, urban renewal, preserving cultural heritage and ensuring social inclusion. Depending on the final shape the New European Bauhaus project takes, activities such as enhancing research and innovation capacities and the uptake of advanced technologies as well as skills development may also help support it. Cohesion policy is thus likely to complement other possible sources of funding for the New European Bauhaus project under the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework and Next Generation EU, relating to the European Green Deal, Renovation Wave Strategy, InvestEU and other programmes. The final shape of cohesion policy will be known in the coming months, once the Common Provisions Regulation and the sectoral regulations on the individual funds have been adopted by the EU co-legislators.

Read this ‘at a glance’ on ‘Cohesion policy contribution to New European Bauhaus‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2021/02/19/cohesion-policy-contribution-to-new-european-bauhaus/

EU Prize for Contemporary Architecture / Mies van der Rohe Award: A tribute to Bauhaus

Written by Magdalena Pasikowska-Schnass,

© Fundació Mies van der Rohe, 2021

The EU Prize for Contemporary Architecture (also known as the EU Mies Award) was launched in recognition of the importance and quality of European architecture. Named after German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, a figure emblematic of the Bauhaus movement, it aims to promote functionality, simplicity, sustainability and social vision in urban construction.

Background

Mies van der Rohe was the last director of the Bauhaus school. The official lifespan of the Bauhaus movement in Germany was only fourteen years. It was founded in 1919 as an educational project devoted to all art forms. By 1933, when the Nazi authorities closed the school, it had changed location and director three times. Artists who left continued the work begun in Germany wherever they settled.

Recognition by Unesco

The Bauhaus movement has influenced architecture all over the world. Unesco has recognised the value of its ideas of sober design, functionalism and social reform as embodied in the original buildings, putting some of the movement’s achievements on the World Heritage List. The original buildings located in Weimar (the Former Art School, the Applied Art School and the Haus Am Horn) and Dessau (the Bauhaus Building and the group of seven Masters’ Houses) have featured on the list since 1996. Other buildings were added in 2017.

The list also comprises the White City of Tel-Aviv. German-Jewish architects fleeing Nazism designed many of its buildings, applying the principles of modernist urban design initiated by Bauhaus.

Barcelona Pavilion – Mies van der Rohe Foundation

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the last director of this educational, artistic and experimental school, personified the vitality of Bauhaus. Forced to leave Germany in 1938, he moved to Chicago where, as head of the Illinois Institute of Technology, he helped to develop the ‘second’ Chicago School of Architecture, pushing back the limits of the original Chicago School’s approach to simplified form and ornamentation and the technological achievement of the day – 10-storey skyscrapers.

Not limiting himself to the design of simplified, rectilinear skyscraper buildings, van der Rohe pursued his work on the aesthetics of pavilions, already begun in Europe. Together with Lilly Reich, who was responsible for the interior design, he had created the German Pavilion for the 1929 International Exposition in Barcelona. The building, now known as the Barcelona Pavilion, represented the new aesthetics of simplicity, clarity and open spaces, embodying its architect’s guiding principle – ‘less is more’. The pavilion was dismantled once the exposition ended in 1930, but in 1983, work began to rebuild it on the basis of photographs and original drawings and plans. Barcelona City Hall set up the Fundació Mies van der Rohe to accompany the process. Three years later the pavilion became the foundation’s headquarters.

Mies van der Rohe award and EU prize

In 1988, two years after reconstruction of the Barcelona Pavilion was completed, the first edition of the biennial Mies van der Rohe Award for European Architecture was launched as a joint initiative of the European Commission and the Mayor of Barcelona. In 2001, the European Commission launched a call for proposals for a ‘European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture’. It was won by the Fundació Mies van der Rohe, whose vision for the award included the idea to recognise the work of young architects at the beginning of their professional careers.

Since then, the foundation has been co-organiser of the EU Prize for Contemporary Architecture, which is awarded every other year for outstanding architectural works built across Europe (with a main prize of €60 000), and includes an ‘Emerging Architect Special Mention’ (€20 000). The prize is co-funded by the Creative Europe programme, the EU programme supporting culture. Nevertheless, despite recent efforts to popularise it through a dedicated app, and its logo featuring on the websites of winners, finalists, architectural studios and national architectural associations, the prize has a relatively low profile in the EU.

Selection criteria and jury

The award ceremony is held in May in the Barcelona Pavilion, headquarters of the Mies van der Rohe Foundation. A group of independent experts, the member associations of the Architects’ Council of Europe (ACE), other European national architects’ associations and an advisory committee nominate architectural works. The jury then evaluate all the nominations and present a selection of shortlisted and then finalists’ works. The opinions of the users of the architectural works are also taken into consideration.

The selection includes not only private homes and public housing, museums and cultural installations, but also educational, health and sports facilities, as well as large-scale infrastructure projects and transport systems contributing to the construction of European cities. The idea behind the prize is to promote sustainable architectural practice. It reflects the original inspiration of the Bauhaus movement of combining the social, cultural and economic aspects of architecture and the arts.

Recent developments

Recently the prize has reflected the guiding principle of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe to do more with less. The approach corresponds to sustainability criteria, with a preference for building more with less material, at a lower cost. The overall objective is to improve people’s lives and the way people live together.

Nominated projects and winners – A variety of works

Conferences, events and exhibitions are held to promote the ‘technological, constructional, social, economic, cultural and aesthetic achievements’ present in nominated and winning projects.

The examples below bear witness to the recent sustainability requirements and the diverse nature of the projects submitted.

Selected winners of the EU Prize for Contemporary Architecture:

  • 2019 – Transformation of three housing blocks with 530 homes, Grand Parc Bordeaux, France
  • 2017 – DeFlat Kleiburg, Amsterdam, Netherlands, transformation of the original building designed by Siegfried Nassuth in 1971, proposing new forms of ‘affordable housing’
  • 2015 – Philharmonic Hall, Szczecin, Poland
  • 2003 – Car Park and Terminus, Hoenheim North, Strasbourg, France.

Some of the winners of the Emerging Architect Special Mention:

  • 2015 – Luz House, Cilleros, Spain, an extremely low-budget project built inside the stone party walls of an existing structure in a small village to create a contemporary dwelling environment using existing resources
  • 2009 – Gymnasium 46°09’N/16°50’E, Koprivnica, Croatia, a mixed-use building combining sports hall and school, transforming the suburban periphery by creating an emblematic place for young people
  • 2007 – Department of Mathematics, Faculty of Physics and Mathematics, Ljubljana, Slovenia.

The selection process for the 2021 edition had to be rescheduled because of Covid-19 restrictions. The 449 nominees were however announced in January 2021. The nominations reflect a huge variety of works and approaches and include: a metro line; a natural enclave with watchtowers in the area of a former gravel pit; a kindergarten; the revitalisation of former dragoon barracks; houses and a riding centre; a church; a hospital; a ballet school, a city cemetery, the transformation of a classical religious room into a new space for other activities, a daycare centre, a transport hub, an airport, timber dwellings, a home for the homeless, a graphic arts centre, an Olympic centre, a housing cooperative, a public pool, a waste-to-energy plant with an urban recreation centre; and, coming full circle, the expansion of the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design, named after a famous Hungarian photographer and designer from the Bauhaus movement.


Read this ‘at a glance’ on ‘EU Prize for Contemporary Architecture / Mies van der Rohe Award: A tribute to Bauhaus‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2021/02/19/eu-prize-for-contemporary-architecture-mies-van-der-rohe-award-a-tribute-to-bauhaus/