Месечни архиви: март 2021

The EU strategic autonomy debate [What Think Tanks are thinking]

Written by Marcin Grajewski,

Head of man filled by word cloud. Words related to politics, government, parliamentary democracy and political life. Flag of the European Union
© JEGAS RA / Adobe Stock

An increasing number of politicians and analysts argue that the European Union should boost its ‘strategic autonomy’ and/or develop a higher degree of ‘European sovereignty’. These concepts encompass a greater potential for independence, self-reliance and resilience in a wide range of fields – such as defence, trade, industrial policy, digital policy, economic and monetary policy, and health policy – following a series of events in recent years that have exposed Europe’s vulnerability to external shocks.

The debate emerged in the late 2010s, after the French President, Emmanuel Macron, called for a conscious ‘European sovereignty’ and the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, said that Europe would have to take its destiny into its own hands, as it could no longer necessarily rely on the United States to protect it. This latter statement followed President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the landmark nuclear deal with Iran, in which the EU had invested significant political capital. In parallel, there is growing concern about the implications for Europe of the progressive hardening of positions between the US and China, on both economic and political fronts.

This note offers links to recent commentaries, studies and reports from international think tanks on the European issues related to European strategic autonomy and sovereignty.

The Conference on the Future of Europe: Comparing the Joint Declaration to institutions’ expectations
European Policy Centre, March 2021

Steady as she goes: Key takeaways from the Commission’s new fiscal guidance
European Policy Centre, March 2021

Money talks: EU strategic autonomy requires a strong euro
European Policy Centre, March 2021

Lessons from the battleground: EU strategic autonomy after the ‘vaccine wars’
European Policy Centre, February 2021

Stepping into the driver’s seat: The EU should double down on US-Iran diplomacy
European Policy Centre, February 2021

Fostering Europe’s strategic autonomy – Security and defence policy: Time to deliver
European Policy Centre, October 2020

How Brussels sees the future of Europe after Covid-19
European Policy Centre, September 2020

Differentiated cooperation in European Foreign Policy: The challenge of coherence
European Policy Centre, August 2020

Breaking the law of opposite effects: Europe’s strategic autonomy and the revived transatlantic Partnership
Egmont, March 2021

For a new NATO-EU bargain
Egmont, February 2021

The EU-MENA partnership: Time for a reset
Egmont, February 2021

No peace from corona: Defining EU strategy for the 2020s
Egmont, January 2021

Ten reflections on a sovereignty-first Brexit
Centre for European Reform, December 2020

The EU can’t separate climate policy from foreign policy
Bruegel, March 2021

Strategic autonomy or strategic alliance?
Bruegel, February 2021

The geopolitics of the European Green Deal
Bruegel, February 2021

US separates climate concerns from financial oversight in contrast to EU activism
Bruegel, February 2021

Résilience : La nouvelle boussole
Bruegel, January 2021

Getting America back in the game: A multilateral perspective
Bruegel, January 2021

From self-doubt to self-assurance: The European External Action Service as the indispensable support for a geopolitical EU
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung; Swedish Institute for European Policy Studies; Centre for European Policy Studies, January 2021

From scale to purpose? The EU’s support for start-ups in the global race for tech dominance
Bertelsmann Stiftung, January 2021

European strategic autonomy and third countries: The defence industrial dimension
Globsec, January 2021

Europe and Biden: Towards a new transatlantic pact?
Wilfried Martens Centre, January 2021

The strategic compass charting a new course for the EU’s Security and Defence Policy
Wilfried Martens Centre, December 2020

Deglobalisation in the context of United States-China decoupling
Bruegel, December 2020

Europe is losing competitiveness in global value chains while China surges
Bruegel, November 2020

What if… not? The cost of inaction
European Union Institute for Security Studies, January 2021

Fostering Europe’s strategic autonomy: A question of purpose and action
Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, European Policy Centre, December 2020

Time to go beyond the meta-debate on EU strategic autonomy in defence
Jacques Delors Centre, December 2020

Sovereignty over supply? The EU’s ability to manage critical dependences while engaging with the world
European Union Institute for Security Studies, December 2020

Climate superpowers: How the EU and china can compete and cooperate for a green future
European Council on Foreign Relations, December 2020

A new transatlantic bargain: An action plan for transformation, not restoration
European Council on Foreign Relations, November 2020

Protect, constrain, contest: Approaches for coordinated transatlantic economic and technological competition with China
LSE Ideas, January 2021

Unlocking European defence: In search of the long overdue paradigm shift
Istituto Affari Internazionali, January 2021

The quest for European strategic autonomy: A collective reflection
Istituto Affari Internazionali, January 2021

Space as a key element of Europe’s digital sovereignty
Istituto Affari Internazionali, December 2020

Europe of defence in the new world (dis)order: Choices for Italy
Istituto Affari Internazionali, November 2020

Going transatlantic: The EU’s lean walk towards strategic relevance
Istituto Affari Internazionali, November 2020

Pourquoi l’Europe doit-elle être stratégiquement autonome?
IFRI, December 2020

Are Europe’s leaders ready for a Biden presidency?
Clingendael, November 2020

Rebuilding the transatlantic relationship: Transatlantic policy forum in review
Europeum, November 2020

The EU’s strategic compass and its four baskets: Recommendations to make the most of it
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik, November 2020


Read this briefing on ‘The EU strategic autonomy debate‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2021/03/30/the-eu-strategic-autonomy-debate-what-think-tanks-are-thinking/

Outcome of the video-conferences of EU leaders on 25 March 2021

Written by Suzana Anghel and Ralf Drachenberg,


© Adobe Stock

Due to the worsening epidemiological situation, EU leaders met on 25 March 2021 in a series of video-conferences instead of a two-day physical meeting. The top priority was the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, notably through increasing production, delivery and deployment of vaccines. EU leaders reaffirmed the pharmaceutical companies’ obligation to respect contractual delivery deadlines, and underlined the role of export authorisations. They confirmed the pro-rata population key for the allocation of vaccines and called on EU institutions to treat work on the proposed digital green certificate as a matter of urgency. Another highlight of the European Council meeting was the exchange of views with the President of the United States, Joe Biden – the first such meeting for 11 years – which focused on the coronavirus pandemic and common challenges. In addition, EU leaders reviewed recent work in the area of the single market, industrial policy and digital, and discussed the situation in the eastern Mediterranean and relations with Turkey. The Euro Summit video-conference discussed the international role of the euro.

1.     Meeting format and new time-specific commitments

The President of the European Council, Charles Michel acknowledged that the change of format from a physical to a virtual meeting did not simplify decision-making on a number of difficult subjects and required thorough preparation. This change also impacted the agenda. On the one hand, it allowed US President Biden to attend the meeting as a guest. On the other hand, the strategic debate on Russia was postponed and turned into an information point only.

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

2.     European Council video-conference

Response to coronavirus pandemic

As flagged up in the EPRS outlook, the fight against the pandemic again topped the meeting’s agenda.

Progress on production, delivery and deployment of vaccines

The European Council reiterated its call for ‘accelerating the production, delivery and deployment of vaccines’, and stressed the need to intensify all efforts to this end. The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, outlined that 88 million doses had now been delivered and 62 million doses were available to be administrated in the EU. Considering the commitments from the different pharmaceutical companies, the EU is on track to achieve the goal of having 70 % of the EU’s adult population vaccinated by the summer. This could have been done faster ‘if all pharmaceutical companies had fulfilled their contracts’. AstraZeneca is expected to deliver only 70 million doses in the second quarter instead of the 180 million set out in their contract. To increase production of Covid-19 vaccines the European Commission is organising a matchmaking event on 29-31 March 2021 for companies producing vaccines, or supplying the raw materials needed, in the EU.

Exports of Covid-19 vaccines

A potential EU ‘export ban’ for Covid-19 vaccines manufactured in the EU was heavily debated in the days running up to, and at the meeting itself. EU leaders underlined ‘the importance of transparency as well as of the use of export authorisations’ and reaffirmed that ‘companies must ensure predictability of their vaccine production and respect contractual delivery deadlines’. President von der Leyen stressed that companies have first to honour their commitments to the EU before they can export to other parts of the world.

Main message of the Parliament’s President: President David Sassoli stressed the need to ‘speed up the distribution and administration of vaccines both inside and outside the EU. But …. it is time to apply the principles of reciprocity and proportionality before giving the green light to exports from the EU.’

Allocation of coronavirus vaccines

Under-delivery by AstraZeneca strongly impacted the allocation of coronavirus vaccines among Member States, as some had chosen a higher proportion of this vaccine in their portfolio than others. In response to the criticism from some Member States about the allocation of vaccines, EU leaders confirmed the European Commission’s methodology of a ‘pro-rata population key for the allocation of vaccines’. Nevertheless, they asked EU ambassadors (Coreper) to allocate the 10 million accelerated BioNTech-Pfizer doses in a ‘spirit of solidarity’. Some EU leaders, such as Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, indicated that they were very much open to find a way to help Croatia, Bulgaria and Latvia in this respect, but that it is currently difficult to conclude that Austria has an issue.  

Common EU approach to the lifting of restrictions

Due to the serious epidemiological situation, notably the variants of the virus, EU leaders confirmed that ‘restrictions, including as regards non-essential travel, must therefore be upheld for the time being’. At the same time, the unhindered flow of goods and services within the single market also needed to be ensured. To provide some perspective, EU leaders stated that ‘preparations should nevertheless start on a common approach to the gradual lifting of restrictions’. The European Council had first called for such a ‘common approach’ in April 2020, with the Commission providing numerous contributions to safe border reopening, most recently on 17 March 2021 with its ‘common path’.

Digital green certificate

EU leaders called on EU institutions to advance with the legislative and technical work on the digital certificate ‘as a matter of urgency’. Just prior to the video-conference, the European Parliament agreed to use the urgent procedure (i.e. speeding up the legislative process by referring the proposal directly for adoption to the plenary, without nomination of a rapporteur, drafting a report or proposing amendments), to deal with the Commission’s proposal on a ‘digital green certificate’.

Global solidarity

EU leaders stressed that the European Union will continue to strengthen its global response to the pandemic, and called for rapidly advancing on the creation of a ‘vaccine-sharing mechanism’ to complement and support COVAX’s role in the deployment of vaccines.

Single market, industrial policy, digital transformation and the economy

Single market, and industrial policy

In line with previous European Council conclusions, EU leaders highlighted the need for an inclusive and sustainable recovery. They underscored the role of labour market and skills policies in the green and digital transitions. The European Council stressed the need to further accelerate these green and digital transitions with appropriate vehicles to support multi-country projects, as well as to strengthen the competitiveness and resilience of European industry, including SMEs.

Digital policy

Recalling its conclusions of 1-2 October 2020 and of 10-11 December 2020, the European Council welcomed the Commission’s communication on the 2030 Digital Compass and called on the Council to examine it and formulate policy guidelines. EU leaders reiterated their core objective of ensuring Europe’s digital sovereignty and the need to enhance international outreach efforts on digital issues, while upholding all relevant data protection legislation. They invited the Commission to present the proposal for a regulatory framework for artificial intelligence and assess the progress made in establishing the sectoral data spaces as announced in the European strategy for data of February 2020. The European Council called on the co-legislators to advance on the digital services act, the digital markets act, and the data governance act proposals to strengthen the digital single market.

EU leaders stressed the need to address urgently the tax challenges arising from the digitalisation of the economy, to ensure fairness and effectiveness. Despite internal divisions, they reiterated their strong preference for and commitment to a global solution on international digital taxation.

European Semester

EU leaders welcomed the policy priority areas of the annual sustainable growth strategy and invited the Member States to reflect on them in their national recovery and resilience plans.

External relations

EU-US relations

The discussion with President Biden on transatlantic relations aimed at showing unity and shaping a new EU-US agenda. President Biden called for ‘closer cooperation on common challenges’, whilst President Michel stressed that the EU and the US had a ‘historic opportunity to re-energise [their] cooperation’ and to ‘deepen [their] historic bond’. A new transatlantic agenda emerged, focused on combating Covid-19, fighting climate change, democracy promotion, countering disinformation, and digitalisation. President Biden stressed the US’s ‘desire to work together on shared foreign policy interests, including China and Russia’ and ‘noted the need for continued EU‑US- engagement on Turkey, the South Caucasus, eastern Europe, and the Western Balkans’. President Michel spoke of ‘authoritarian tendencies morphed into new models’ which ‘threaten democracy, human rights and the rules based order’. He called for strengthened multilateralism, including in NATO, in which ‘Europeans are determined to assume [their] fair share of the burden’.

Main message of the Parliament’s President: President Sassoli stressed that a strong EU-US relationship was needed and ‘renewed cooperation’ would give impetus ‘to our global leadership’.

Russia

President Michel informed the EU leaders of the latest developments in EU-Russia relations. The strategic debate on relations with Russia was postponed to the June 2021 European Council.

Eastern Mediterranean

The European Council held a discussion on the situation in the eastern Mediterranean and on relations with Turkey, thereby welcoming the joint communication on the ‘State of play on EU-Turkey political, economic and trade relations’. EU leaders reaffirmed the EU’s interest in ‘a stable and secure’ eastern Mediterranean and ‘mutually beneficial relations with Turkey’. They notably welcomed recent de-escalation efforts and the resumption of bilateral Greek-Turkish talks, whilst reaffirming their ‘full commitment to a comprehensive settlement’ of the Cyprus problem and expressing support to the upcoming negotiations under UN auspices with the EU as an observer. High Representative Josep Borrell was invited to continue work on the multilateral conference on the eastern Mediterranean, an initiative put forward by President Michel in October 2020.

The EU leaders confirmed the ‘dual track’ approach defined in October and December 2020. Hence, engagement with Turkey will be ‘phased, proportionate and reversible’ in several areas of mutual interest such as economic cooperation, including the modernisation of the customs union, public health, people-to-people mobility, climate, counter-terrorism and migration. Regarding migration, they invited the Commission to present a proposal for a financial framework allowing a continued offer of EU financial assistance for Syrian refugees in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. EU leaders expect Turkey to play a positive role in solving the Libyan, Syrian and Southern Caucasus crises, and will ‘remain vigilant on this matter’. President Michel stressed the conditionality aspect and suggested that ‘more formal decisions’ could be expected in June 2021 were a positive course of action to be maintained. The European Council stressed that ‘recent decisions represent major setbacks for human rights’ without specifically mentioning Turkey’s recently announced withdrawal from the Convention on Preventing and Combatting Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence. Prior to the meeting, the European Parliament had warned about the degradation of human rights and rule of law in Turkey, and called for including them on the EU’s agenda with Turkey.

3.     Euro Summit video-conference

EU leaders held a discussion with the President of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde, and the President of the Eurogroup, Paschal Donohoe, on the international role of the euro. They stressed the role of the Recovery and Resilience Facility and the need for a robust, inclusive and sustainable recovery with enhanced economic resilience. In order to achieve a sound European financial architecture, EU leaders emphasised the need to strengthen Economic and Monetary Union, to complete the Banking Union, and make progress towards a true Capital Markets Union. They will review progress towards these goals at their June 2021 meeting.


Read this ‘at a glance’ on ‘Outcome of the video-conferences of EU leaders on 25 March 2021‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2021/03/30/outcome-of-the-video-conferences-of-eu-leaders-on-25-march-2021/

Citizens’ enquiries on ratification of the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment

European Union flag and Chinese flag painted on cracked wall , EU and China relations
© Adobe Stock

Citizens often send messages to the President of the European Parliament (or to the institution’s public portal) expressing their views on current issues and/or requesting action from the Parliament. The Citizens’ Enquiries Unit (AskEP) within the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) looks into these issues and replies to the messages, which may sometimes be identical as part of wider public campaigns.

The President of the European Parliament has recently received a large number of messages on the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI). Citizens first began to write to the President on this subject in March 2021. In their messages, citizens called on the EU not to ratify the agreement as a result of human rights abuse in China. In recent resolutions, the European Parliament has indicated that it will carefully scrutinise the agreement, including its provisions on labour rights, while taking into account the human rights situation in China.  

Please find below the main points of the reply sent to citizens who took the time to write to the President of the European Parliament on this matter.

Main points made in the reply

On 30 December 2020, the European Commission and China reached an agreement in principle on a Comprehensive Agreement on Investment. Nevertheless, the European Parliament must vote in favour of the agreement, following the consent procedure, for it to come into force.

Specifically, the European Parliament adopted a resolution in January 2021, on the crackdown on the democratic opposition in Hong Kong. In its resolution, Parliament states that it will carefully scrutinise the agreement, including its provisions on labour rights. Parliament also reminds the Commission that it will take the human rights situation in China, including in Hong Kong, into account when asked to endorse the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, or future trade deals with China. 

The European Parliament also adopted a resolution in December 2020 on forced labour and the situation of the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. In the resolution, Parliament states that it is of the opinion that the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment must include adequate commitments to respect international conventions combating forced labour. Parliament considers, in particular, that China should therefore ratify the relevant International Labour Organization Conventions.

The European Parliament has started to scrutinise the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment. The Committee on International Trade (INTA) and the Sub-committee on Human Rights (DROI) held an initial exchange of views on the agreement in their meetings of 24 and 25 February 2021 respectively (INTA video from start and DROI video from 10.05am).

More information on the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment is available on Parliament’s Legislative Train schedule and in a European Parliamentary Research Service Briefing from March 2021.

More broadly, the webpages of the Delegation of the European Union to China might also be of interest.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2021/03/30/citizens-enquiries-on-ratification-of-the-eu-china-comprehensive-agreement-on-investment/

Demographic outlook for the European Union 2021


© European Union, 2021

The impact of demography on economic, social and environmental developments in the world is undeniable. According to the latest statistical data, population trends that were already present in the EU before 2019, continued to persist. For instance, despite its population increase from 354.5 million in 1960 to 447.7 million in 2019, the EU-27 represents a shrinking proportion of the global population, which grew, for its part, from 3.03 billion in 1960 to 7.71 billion in 2019. However, EU population growth is not due to a higher birth rate (the number of live births is constantly shrinking; it stood at 4.15 million in 2019, compared to 6.79 million in 1964), but to the fact that people live longer. In fact, life expectancy rose dramatically from 69.86 years in the 1960-1965 period to 81 years in 2018, and in parallel, the median age of the population increased from 38.4 years in 2001 (earliest Eurostat data available) to 43.7 years in 2019. The ageing of the EU-27 population poses challenges to the labour market, due to the shrinking size of the working-age population. In 2019, there were only around two working-age persons (15-64 years) for every younger or older person likely to be dependent on them. Other potential challenges include pressures on the healthcare system, higher age-related public spending and the depopulation of certain regions.

Demography is on the agenda of the von der Leyen Commission; future EU responses will focus on lifelong learning and healthy lifestyles, as well as on bringing more people (women, migrants, disabled people and older workers) onto the labour market through incentives. Even if the actual implications of the coronavirus pandemic for demography are not yet measurable, surveys are already pointing to an increase in the number of deaths compared to similar periods from previous years, mainly in remote areas with less developed healthcare systems or in areas with high population density and frequent intergenerational contacts. There has also been a decrease in fertility rates, mainly due to economic reasons. In fact, unemployment and poverty were already a challenge for the EU before the pandemic, but the stressful economic and health situation it brought about has only exacerbated this challenge.

Poverty is closely correlated with fertility rates at country level, even if the causal explanations of this fact remain disputed among scientists. The level of women’s education is one of the factors cited to explain why poverty goes hand in hand with high fertility rates. Globally, children and the elderly – two age groups that are both dependent on working-age adults – are particularly vulnerable to poverty. Less developed countries, where general poverty is more widespread, are at higher risk of child and older-age poverty. In comparison with other G20 countries, EU Member States show lower relative poverty rates among both children and seniors.

Findings on migration to the EU seem to show a certain link to poverty – with migrants escaping poverty in their countries of origin and improving their families’ lives through remittances – but this link has to be put into perspective. International migrants are generally people of intermediate wealth and level of skills allowing them to cover the high costs and risks associated with migration. The poorest in third countries seem to lack these resources and knowledge; for them, migration is more a recklessly risky attempt to survive or escape from poverty. Within the EU, internal migration is seen as an expression of free labour mobility – a fundamental freedom of EU citizens. Unlike migration to the EU, it is not regarded as a one-way movement, as witnessed by the tendency towards return migration to some sending EU Member States in central and eastern Europe since 2016. As regards age-related tendencies in migration, both international migrants to the EU and internal migrants in the EU are mostly of working age (20-64 years), with international migrants to the EU having a median age of 29.2 years, much lower than the median age for the EU-27.

As regards people at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU-27, after their number peaked at 108.7 million in 2012, it fell to 92.4 million (21.1 %) in 2019. The risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU involves a combination of three main factors: monetary poverty, severe material deprivation and/or very low work intensity. Monetary poverty was the most prevalent form of poverty and social exclusion in 2019, with 16.5 % of the EU-27 population (72.4 million persons) being at risk of poverty, to a rather small extent combined with one or both of the other two factors. There are large differences when analysing the risk of poverty or social exclusion by age. In 2019, the highest risk of poverty or social exclusion was recorded for those aged 18-24 years (27.8 %) and the lowest for those aged 65 years and over (18.6 %). In-between these two age groups, the risk of poverty or social exclusion was 19.9 % for people aged 25-49 years and 21.9 % for those aged 50-64 years. The youngest age group – under 18 years – also faced a relatively high risk (22.5 %).

Education reduces the risk of high poverty and may prevent the occurrence, in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, of a generation that would otherwise be much poorer than the generation following the 2008 crisis.

Women are most at risk of poverty or social exclusion. Household composition also has a direct impact on the risk of poverty. This risk looms as soon as there are children to look after at home, and rises as their number increases. Of all family types, single adult households face the biggest risk of poverty or social exclusion. Moreover, work no longer guarantees protection against poverty.

There are considerable variations in the number of people at risk of poverty across EU regions. Urbanisation also plays a role. In western Europe, the risk of social exclusion and poverty tends to be a bit higher in cities than in rural areas. On the other hand, in eastern Europe, rural areas tend to have a higher number of people affected by poverty than cities. Nevertheless, there are considerable pockets of poverty within urban areas too. There is also a clear trend of wealth accumulation at the EU core versus its periphery.

The coronavirus crisis has engendered specific risks for the most deprived and posed an unparalleled challenge for the actions supported by the EU as regards people living in poverty and/or social exclusion. To face the major labour crisis triggered by the pandemic and its social consequences, the EU has taken initiatives to address immediate needs and mitigate negative impacts on employment and social policy.


Read the complete study on ‘Demographic outlook for the European Union 2021‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2021/03/29/demographic-outlook-for-the-european-union-2021/

Plenary round-up – March II 2021

EP Plenary session - Preparation of the European Council meeting of 25 and 26 March 2021 and Digital Green Certificate
© European Union 2021 – Source : EP/Daina Le Lardic

The highlight of the March II 2021 plenary session was the joint debate on the preparation of the European Council and Digital Green Certificates. A number of further joint debates were held on 2019‑2020 enlargement progress reports on Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Serbia, on the reform of EU own resources, on a capital markets recovery package: adjustments to the securitisation framework and on a European strategy for data. These debates were followed by votes.

Other debates held following Council and Commission statements concerned Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention, and the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia and the rule of law in Malta. Proposals on guidelines for the 2022 EU budget, implementation of the Ambient Air Quality Directives, for a new EU-Africa strategy, and legislation on exports, brokering, technical assistance, transit and transfer of dual-use goods, were also debated and voted.

Own Resources Decision

Members debated the continuing reform of EU financing, following which they voted on three Council regulations that complete the EU budget’s revenue system for the current spending period. The new revenue streams envisaged under the Own Resources Decision are required to raise sufficient resources to repay borrowing for the Next Generation EU (NGEU) funding, which aims at financing key EU objectives on climate change and the digital economy. Members considered the proposed regulation on implementing measures to which the Parliament gave its consent; and approved a further two proposals on which Parliament is consulted, concerning the operational provisions for collecting a new own resource from plastic packaging waste, and modifying provisions on collecting the value added tax-based own resource, agreed under the Own Resources Decision. Further proposals for new own resources are under consideration, however, the Own Resources Decision is currently undergoing Member State ratification, without which urgent spending under NGEU to recovery from the coronavirus crisis cannot begin.

Guidelines for the 2022 EU budget

Parliament also debated and adopted a Committee on Budgets (BUDG) report that aims at proposing a set of guidelines to assist the European Commission in drawing up the draft 2022 EU budget. The committee’s focus is firmly on prioritising the social and economic recovery, particularly in respect of the impact on young people. The BUDG committee also calls for maximum flexibility in disbursing the budget to face the challenges of climate change and digital transition, and underlines the importance of spending on both health and security.

Capital markets recovery package

There is no doubt that the economic shock of the coronavirus measures will be severe. Following a joint debate on the capital markets recovery package, Members approved provisional agreements reached during interinstitutional negotiations on two European Commission legislative proposals. The first updates the framework for securitisation in the EU to enhance banks’ capacity to help to fund the recovery, and the second amends the securitisation framework itself. While the provisional agreements incorporate most of the changes called for by Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON), proposed performance-related triggers and amendments on non-performing exposures were not agreed upon. However, some additional details have been included, such as specifying the formulae to calculate the maximum capital requirement in case of a qualifying traditional non-performing exposures securitisation. The texts also task the European Banking Authority with monitoring the measures and reporting to the European Commission, which will consider whether to propose further amendments.

A European strategy for data

As data is the driving force of the European digital transformation, Parliament debated an EU market for personal and non-personal data that fully respects European rules and values and adopted an own-initiative report on a European strategy for data. Parliament also adopted a resolution on the European Commission’s evaluation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Control of exports, transfer, brokering, technical assistance and transit of dual-use items

Members debated, and approved by an overwhelming majority, the text agreed in trilogue on the revision of the exports of dual-use items, under consideration for some years now. To both protect legitimate business interests and simultaneously reinforce protection of human rights in the world, the need for new limits on exports of dual-use items is clear. There is considerable EU trade in these goods or technologies, which are generally used for civilian purposes, but can also be turned to alternative military use in, for example, weapons of mass destruction, or cyber-surveillance.

EU-Africa strategy

Aiming to boost international cooperation on both climate change and migration issues, Members discussed and voted on an own-initiative report from Parliament’s Development Committee (DEVE) on proposals for a new EU-Africa strategy. The DEVE report underlines the need to refocus the partnership towards attaining greater sustainability and inclusive development, with particular focus on security, agriculture and health issues, and human rights.

Cohesion policy and climate change

Despite the economic ravages of the pandemic, the EU stands by its firm commitment to tackle the climate emergency and – accounting for one-third of the entire EU budget – cohesion policy is set to make a major contribution. Members debated and adopted an own-initiative report by the Committee on Regional Development (REGI), which points to the need for coordinated and coherent climate action across all policies and governance levels. The report stresses the key role of local and regional authorities in translating the wider EU climate ambition stated in the Paris Agreement and European Green Deal into action at the local level.


Read the complete ‘at a glance’ on ‘Plenary round-up – March II 2021‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2021/03/26/plenary-round-up-march-ii-2021/

Inside the New European Bauhaus: How to design and build a more sustainable future?

Written by Ivana Katsarova,

What techniques, materials and skills will be needed to foster a better future in the wake of the global pandemic? This was just one of the questions raised during a European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) online roundtable on the ability of the New European Bauhaus initiative to pool expertise and ideas from architects, urban planners, designers and citizens, on building a more sustainable future.

This lively discussion took place in the slipstream of the recent European Commission pledge to bring the European Green Deal into people’s minds and homes and become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. Indeed, one of the ways to help achieve this ambitious goal lies in the new European Bauhaus initiative, set to demonstrate that what is necessary can also be beautiful. Participants in an online roundtable entitled ‘Inside the New European Bauhaus: How to design and build a more sustainable future?‘, which took place on 16 March 2021, looked at these issues through the prism of a number of inspiring projects, offering advice, but also expressing some caution.

Etienne Bassot, Director of the Members’ Research Service in the EPRS, set the scene for the debate by outlining the wider context of the New European Bauhaus initiative.

Laurence Farreng (Renew, France) European Parliament rapporteur on the greening of the EU’s flagship programmes Erasmus+, Creative Europe and the Solidarity Corps, confirmed that the cultural and creative industries are ready to take part in shaping the European Green Deal by bringing innovative ideas. While hailing the fact that professionals and citizens have already made more than 300 contributions, Laurence Farreng expressed concern regarding the initiative’s funding, which has not been clearly defined, and pleaded for a top-up from the European Regional Development Fund.

Similarly, Laurence Farreng regretted that the current name is linked to the past and is not evocative enough for citizens, but also expressed the hope that the New European Bauhaus initiative will help to add a human dimension to the European Green Deal. Finally, she reminded the audience that the original Bauhaus school was known for its craft-based curriculum, hoping that the initiative would become a true driver of change while also bridging the gap between the creative sector and the education sector.

How can new life be injected into a cultural heritage gem from 1930, knowing that historical buildings need to meet the same requirements in terms of safety and comfort as modern ones, and that fitting technical infrastructure in such buildings is expensive and clashes with the preservation of the original aesthetics? Krystyna Kirschke, Professor at the Faculty of Architecture at Wrocław University of Science and Technology (Poland) answered this tricky question by explaining the complex renovation techniques used to restore the Renoma department store and the old railway station in Wrocław to their former glory. The success of the Renoma project was such that the modern extension to the store added in 2009 was nominated for the 2011 EU Mies van der Rohe Contemporary Architecture award; the Wrocław railway station meanwhile welcomes 20 million passengers a year.

Interestingly, the approach advocated by the panellists, went well beyond creatively-designed projects, presenting new visions for society as a whole.

Highlighting the importance of the circular approach through the reuse of materials (without transformation, as opposed to recycling) Maarten Gielen – co-founder of ROTOR Design Practice in Belgium – presented an Interreg-funded project launched in 2019, which aimed at a 50 % increase in the volume of reclaimed building elements in north-west Europe by 2032. Today, only 1 % of such elements are reused, the rest ending up crushed, melted down, or disposed of, with a high environmental impact and a net loss of economic value. The aim of the project is to help dealers in reclaimed materials to structure their efforts, for example by producing technical specifications for specific materials, enabling them to participate in public procurement procedures.

Importantly, Maarten Gielen reminded participants of the need to examine the various forms of sustainability critically. Indeed, despite its formal beauty, the Bosco Verticale project (2014, Boeri Architects, Milan, Italy) – the pioneering incorporation of a vertical forest into 44 storeys across two towers – incurs very high maintenance costs, making it accessible only to wealthier residents. In conclusion, Maarten Gielen called for the reinvention of beauty, with careful restraint and a focus on perception, sculpting the eye instead of the building. He also expressed his hope that the various partners involved in the New European Bauhaus initiative would be invited to help design the legislative efforts accompanying it, so that it becomes more than just another EU-funded programme.

The round table event was also treated to a musical interlude. A video excerpt from Benjamin Millepied’s L A Summer Dance intensive classes offered a fresh and inspiring perspective on creative learning. By turning an old garage into a space where young people could practice what they love, a neighbourhood grew into a community. Over two weeks, the project provided 24 secondary school students from disadvantaged backgrounds with two weeks of full-day, professionally taught dance and choreography classes, resulting in a full dance piece performed at the project’s annual gala.

Focusing in particular on the challenge of improving city dwellers’ experience, Xavier Matilla, chief architect with Barcelona city council (Spain), shared some insights from the Superblocks project. The idea was to offer a quiet space for inhabitants to enjoy local cultural events and activities. The Superblocks project seems to have found the solution: by giving streets back to the people, revitalising social events rather than just improving physical infrastructure, organising mobility more efficiently and, importantly, offering new opportunities for outdoor activities. The aim of the project – currently under way in the Eixample district – is to offer all residents a square or ‘green street’ within 200 metres of their homes, with a substantial increase in the number of meeting and relaxation areas. In addition, the transformation of the space has helped to increase the number of social activities in the Sant Antoni neighbourhood from just one in 2013 to 32 in 2019. This successful blueprint is now set to be extended to the whole of the city of Barcelona. Some priority areas have already been defined with a view to lowering air pollution and expanding green areas.

Highlighting the importance of participatory music projects in combating xenophobia, racism and antisemitism, Lukas Pairon, co-founder of the Social Impact of Making Music (SIMM) platform, talked participants through some inspiring projects being carried out by practitioners united by their common interest in the role of music as a social work tool. De Ledebirds, a community orchestra from Ghent in Belgium has a large repertoire of world music and welcomes musicians (to be) of all levels. Similarly, the Al‑Farabi Music Academy in Berlin (Germany) offers a chance for young people who have fled conflict zones to sing or play music with young people from different backgrounds, thus experiencing the universal power of music. Launched 10 years ago, Demos (France) is a cultural democratisation project mixing various social groups and centred on musical practice in an orchestra for children aged 7 to 12. Having successfully expanded to the whole of France, the project expects to number 60 orchestras by 2022.

Finally, Marcos Ros (S&D, Spain) founder of the New European Bauhaus Friendship Group at the European Parliament confirmed that the project comes at a crucial moment for the EU – a time of transition towards economic recovery, the Green Deal and digitalisation – and should serve as a preliminary phase for the renovation wave. He also argued that this should be an opportunity to reimagine not only buildings and cities but also our way of life. Insisting that the funding of the project should reflect its interdisciplinary nature, Marcos Ros pointed to various potential financial sources such as the Recovery and Resilience Facility, Horizon Europe, and the European Regional Development Fund, without ruling out the possibility for co-financing from EU Member States. Hoping that open citizen participation will prevail over elitist movements, he underscored that Parliament should retain a substantial role in the process. Bringing the inclusion dimension to the fore, Marcos Ros argued that the New European Bauhaus initiative should reach the smallest towns and villages in the EU, so that real money and real solutions can reach real people.

The event gathered some 150 virtual participants at its peak, with audience questions focusing on elitism versus inclusion, European versus local level of intervention, new versus old construction materials.

Interestingly, an instant poll among those attending the event revealed that over two thirds perceived the New European Bauhaus initiative as a mixture of architecture, aesthetics and arts, climate change, energy efficiency and innovative social solutions.

  • The following EPRS publications provide further insight and food for thought:

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2021/03/25/inside-the-new-european-bauhaus-how-to-design-and-build-a-more-sustainable-future/

European Parliament Plenary Session – March II 2021

Written by Clare Ferguson,

With several major debates on the agenda, Members will pack a number of legislative items into the short time available for the part-session taking place on 24 and 25 March 2021. Before that, however, they will discuss preparations for this week’s European Council meeting. Switched to videoconference only a few days before, this meeting of EU leaders will focus on issues with vaccine supplies and the vaccination strategy, and will also debate the Commission’s proposed ‘Digital Green Certificates’ which could be used to prove an individual has been vaccinated or has a recent negative test.

On Wednesday afternoon, Members are scheduled to debate the reform of EU financing, known as own resources, following which they are expected to vote on three Council regulations that complete the EU budget’s revenue system. The new revenue streams envisaged under the Own Resources Decision are required to raise sufficient resources to repay borrowing for the Next Generation EU (NGEU) funding, which aims at financing key EU objectives on climate change and the digital economy. Members will consider the proposed regulation on implementing measures that requires Parliament’s consent; and a further two proposals on which Parliament is consulted, concerning the operational provisions for collecting new own resources from plastic packaging waste and value added tax, agreed under the Own Resources Decision. Further proposals for new own resources include a carbon border adjustment mechanism; a digital levy; a revised emissions trading system (ETS); and financial tax contributions. However, the Own Resources Decision is currently undergoing ratification by the Member States, without which spending under NGEU cannot begin. A Committee on Budgets (BUDG) report furthermore deplores the delays in ratification, which is holding up vital borrowing and lending operations under the NGEU recovery instrument – urgently needed to prioritise the recovery from the coronavirus crisis. On Wednesday afternoon, Parliament will also debate the BUDG committee report, which aims to propose a set of guidelines that will assist the European Commission in drawing up the draft 2022 EU budget. Naturally, committee’s focus is firmly on prioritising the social and economic recovery, particularly in respect of the impact on young people. The BUDG committee also calls for maximum flexibility in disbursing the budget to face the challenges of climate change and digital transition, and underlines the importance of health and security spending.

There is no doubt that the economic shock of the coronavirus measures will be severe. In a further joint debate on Wednesday, on the capital markets recovery package, Members will debate the provisional agreements reached during interinstitutional negotiations on two European Commission legislative proposals. The first updates the framework for securitisation in the EU to enhance banks’ capacity to help to fund the recovery, and the second amends the securitisation framework itself. While the provisional agreements incorporate most of the changes called for by Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON), proposed performance-related triggers and amendments on non-performing exposures were not agreed upon. However, some additional details have been included, such as specifying the formulae to calculate the maximum capital requirement in case of a qualifying traditional non-performing exposures securitisation. The proposals also task the European Banking Authority with monitoring the measures and reporting to the European Commission, which will consider whether to propose further amendments.

Despite the economic ravages of the pandemic, the EU stands by its firm commitment to tackle the climate emergency and – accounting for one-third of the entire EU budget – cohesion policy is set to make a major contribution. On Wednesday evening, Members are expected to debate an own-initiative report by the Committee on Regional Development (REGI), which points to the need for coordinated and coherent climate action across all policies and governance levels. The report stresses the key role of local and regional authorities in translating the wider EU climate ambition stated in the Paris Agreement and European Green Deal into action at the local level.

Aiming to boost international cooperation on both climate change and migration issues, Members will discuss an own-initiative report from Parliament’s Development Committee (DEVE) on proposals for a new EU-Africa strategy on Wednesday evening. The DEVE report underlines the need to refocus the partnership towards attaining greater sustainability and inclusive development, with particular focus on security, agriculture and health issues, and human rights.

Finally, to both protect legitimate business interests and simultaneously reinforce protection of human rights in the world, the need for new limits on exports of dual-use items has become clear. There is considerable EU trade in these goods or technologies, which are generally used for civilian purposes, but can also be turned to alternative military use in, for example, weapons of mass destruction, or cyber surveillance. Under consideration for some years now, Members will turn their attention to this important human rights issue on Thursday afternoon, in a debate on an interinstitutional agreement on the revision of the export control regime.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2021/03/23/european-parliament-plenary-session-march-ii-2021/

The New START Treaty between the US and Russia: The last surviving pillar of nuclear arms control

Written by Martin Russell,

© area51uk / Adobe Stock

The US and Russia both have formidable arsenals of potentially destructive nuclear weapons. Although a nuclear-free world remains a distant dream, the two countries have taken steps to limit the risk of nuclear conflict, through a series of arms control agreements limiting the number of strategic weapons that each can have. In force since 2011, the New Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty (New START) is the latest of these agreements.

Under New START, Russia and the US are limited to an equal number of deployed strategic warheads and weapons carrying them, such as intercontinental ballistic missiles. To ensure compliance, there are strict counting rules and transparency requirements, giving each side a reliable picture of the other’s strategic nuclear forces.

The 2019 collapse of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty left New START as the only major surviving US-Russia arms control agreement. In early 2021, with New START due to expire in February and the two sides deadlocked over the conditions for extending it, it looked as if the last remaining restrictions on the world’s two main nuclear powers were about to lapse.

Following a last-minute reprieve by newly elected US President, Joe Biden, the two parties agreed to extend New START until 2026, thereby giving each other welcome breathing space to negotiate a replacement treaty. There are still many unanswered questions about the kind of weapons that a future treaty could include.


Read the complete briefing on ‘The New START Treaty between the US and Russia: The last surviving pillar of nuclear arms control‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.


Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2021/03/23/the-new-start-treaty-between-the-us-and-russia-the-last-surviving-pillar-of-nuclear-arms-control/

Outlook for the meetings of EU leaders on 25-26 March 2021

Written by Ralf Drachenberg,

© Adobe Stock

One year after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the fight against the virus will again top the agenda of the European Council meeting on 25-26 March 2021. EU leaders are expected to focus their discussions on ‘digital green certificates’ (providing proof of vaccination and/or Covid-19 test results) and progress on production, delivery and deployment of vaccines. They will work further on developing a common EU approach to the gradual lifting of restrictions and refer to global solidarity. Other agenda points are digitalisation, including digital taxation, the single market and industrial policy. In respect of external relations, EU leaders will review the situation in the eastern Mediterranean and hold a strategic discussion on Russia. The subsequent Euro Summit will discuss the international role of the euro.

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

The Leaders’ Agenda for 2020-21 envisaged a physical European Council meeting in March 2021. However, due to the still serious health situation, this has been replaced by video-conference sessions. As is customary, at the start of the European Council meeting, the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, will address the Heads of State or Government. António Costa, the Prime Minister of Portugal, which currently holds the rotating six-month presidency of the Council of the EU, will provide an overview of progress made in implementing previous European Council conclusions. The Leaders’ Agenda 2020-21 published in October 2020 placed economic issues as well as Russia on the agenda. The eastern Mediterranean was added to the agenda due to the commitment made at the European Council meeting of 10-11 December 2020.

2. European Council agenda points

EU coordination efforts in response to the coronavirus pandemic

Progress on production, delivery and deployment of vaccines

EU Heads of State or Government will address developments regarding vaccine delivery and vaccination across the EU. Current figures show 69.5 million doses delivered and 51 million doses administrated in the EU (state of play 16/03). EU leaders will address the extension of the export authorisation scheme, most likely welcoming it.

EU leaders are also expected to discuss the temporary suspension of administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine in 20 EU Member States, due to concerns over the safety of the jab, despite the World Health Organization (WHO) having urged countries to continue administrating the AstraZeneca vaccine. On 18 March, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) concluded that the ‘benefits still outweigh the risks’.

Moreover, the criticism from some Member States, spearheaded by Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, about the allocation of coronavirus vaccines is also likely to be addressed. In preparation for the summit, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel held a video-conference on 17 March with the leaders of Croatia, Austria, Bulgaria, Latvia, Czechia and Slovenia.

More positive developments regarding the fight against coronavirus came on 11 March, when the EMA recommended the Johnson & Johnson vaccine be authorised for use in the EU. This brings the number of authorised Covid-19 vaccines to four, adding to those from BioNTech-Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna (for a detailed overview of the different Covid-19 vaccines approved or under examination by the EMA see EPRS table). Moreover, on 16 March, the Commission announced that BioNTech-Pfizer would accelerate the delivery of 10 million doses for the second quarter of 2021.

Common EU approach to the gradual lifting of restrictions

EU leaders also aim at further developing a common EU approach to the gradual lifting of coronavirus pandemic related restrictions. In that context, on 17 March, the European Commission adopted a communication on ‘a common path to safe and sustained re-opening’. In this communication, the Commission invites the European Council to ‘call for an agreed approach to a safe re-opening based on a solid scientific framework’ and ‘to support further coordination on efforts to contain the pandemic at a global level, based on the Team Europe approach’ (i.e. supporting partner countries in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic and its consequences).

Free movement of persons and digital green certificates

At their last video-conference on the fight against coronavirus, on 25 February 2021, EU leaders called for ‘work to continue on a common approach to vaccination certificates’ and promised that they would return to this issue. On 17 March, the Commission put forward the ‘Digital Green Certificate’, with the aim of facilitating safe free movement of citizens in the EU during the Covid‑19 pandemic. EU leaders are expected to welcome the proposal and to invite the co-legislators to adopt it rapidly. An in-depth discussion is expected on the proposal, notably regarding the type of rights such a certificate would provide.

The next practical steps will be for the Commission to set up the digital infrastructure to facilitate the authentication of Digital Green Certificates and for Member States to introduce the necessary changes in their national health records’ systems.

Regarding the free movement of people, the eight Member States which had previously set temporary internal border controls due to Covid-19 (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Portugal and Spain), have all renewed them until the end of March or even into April.

Single market, industrial policy, digital transformation and the economy

EU leaders will take stock of progress on the single market, industrial policy and digital transition.

Single market and industrial policy

The return to a well-functioning single market, especially in the field of services, and the protection of fair competition are at the centre of the EU’s agenda. In line with previous European Council conclusions, EU leaders will probably highlight the need for an inclusive and sustainable recovery and the removal of remaining unjustified barriers. The European Council will most likely briefly discuss the role of labour markets and skills policies in the green and digital transitions.

EU leaders will debate industrial policy in the light of the update of the Commission’s 2020 Industrial strategy expected for 27 April 2021. They will most likely underscore the need to strengthen competitiveness and resilience, and to accelerate the green and digital transitions.

Digital transition

The European Council will once again discuss the digital transformation, which is a key pillar of the EU’s recovery from Covid-19. Charles Michel has repeatedly stated the role that digital sovereignty ‘plays in our greater goal of strategic autonomy’, while digital transformation is a prerequisite for a successful economic recovery strategy. EU leaders will also probably endorse the Commission’s communication, 2030 Digital Compass: The European way for the Digital Decade, and call for the Council to examine it and formulate relevant policy guidelines. In line with the conclusions of the economic and finance ministers on 16 March, they will most probably put particular emphasis on the need to address the tax challenges arising from the digitalisation of the economy and support the ongoing negotiations on digital taxation in the OECD, which are aimed at achieving a global and consensus-based solution by mid-2021. Despite the efforts of Italy, Spain and France for a European solution, a group of low-tax countries, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Germany, the Netherlands and Romania will push for a global solution. However, the European Council will most likely also state its readiness to move forward with an EU solution, should there be no progress in the G20/OECD format. Indeed, the Commission is expected to put forward a proposal, separate from the OECD negotiations, on a digital levy by June 2021, which the European Council will probably note during the meeting.

European Semester

Following the Council’s conclusions of 25 January, EU leaders will most probably endorse the policy priority areas of the annual Sustainable Growth Strategy and welcome the draft Council recommendation on the economic policy of the euro area.

External relations

Situation in the eastern Mediterranean

The European Council is expected to take stock of the situation in the eastern Mediterranean. In 2020, tensions in the region reached a new high. EU leaders have repeatedly called on Turkey to stop its unilateral actions and commit to de-escalation as a means to facilitate cooperation. They agreed to embark with Turkey on a re-energised agenda should tensions de-escalate, dialogue be renewed and stability return to the region. In early 2021, Greece and Turkey resumed bilateral talks on maritime delimitation, with several rounds already concluded, whilst the Council has closely monitored progress. As a parallel process, talks on the Cyprus issue are expected to resume under UN leadership in April 2021. At the request of EU leaders, High Representative Josep Borrell will present a report on EU-Turkey relations, which will focus on the political, economic and trade relationship. No decision on the way forward in the relationship with Turkey is expected at this stage, as EU leaders will most probably continue to monitor developments.

Russia

For the first time since October 2016, EU leaders will hold a strategic debate on relations with Russia, at a time when bilateral relations are at a ‘new low’. The High Representative’s visit to Moscow earlier this year did not succeed in ‘reversing the negative trend’ in EU-Russia relations, and an opportunity to have ‘a more constructive dialogue’ was lost. Borrell himself was criticised not only for undertaking the visit, but also for the lack of results and the negative impact on the EU. To uphold principles and values as well as show unity, the EU activated its recently introduced global human rights sanctions regime and imposed sanctions on officials responsible for the illegal imprisonment of opposition leader, Alexei Navalny. EU leaders had condemned Navalny’s detention, and called for his release.

In preparation for the European Council meeting, the Foreign Affairs Council noted that Russia ‘was drifting towards becoming an authoritarian state and away from Europe’. Ministers have reconfirmed their attachment to the ‘five guiding principles’ which have governed EU relations with Russia since 2016. This reflects continuity rather than adaptation to a rapidly changing environment in which Russia’s increased assertiveness is a reality.

In recent years, Russia has multiplied destabilisation attempts, through targeted disinformation and cyber-activities against EU Member States and partners in the Western Balkans. In parallel, it has maximised its action regionally in Syria and in the illegally occupied Crimea where accelerated militarisation is under way and human rights abuses accumulate. For the past seven years, the European Council has succeeded in achieving and maintaining unity in setting and renewing sanctions in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014. Yet shaping an effective Russia policy requires more than consensus on that one issue. At present, there is a window of opportunity to rethink the EU’s Russia strategy in close cooperation with the US, under the new EU-US transatlantic agenda. Furthermore, both the EU and NATO are currently developing their strategic visions and should grasp the opportunity to reflect (jointly) on their future relationship with Russia.

3. Euro Summit

On 26 March, the Euro Summit will meet in an inclusive format with all EU-27 leaders (while the 19 leaders of the euro-area countries automatically attend, leaders of the other Member States that have ratified the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the EMU (now all 27) only participate by right in certain discussions). The focus will be on the euro’s international role and ways to ‘strengthen our autonomy in various situations’, in line with the Commission’s communication of 19 January on the European economic and financial system. EU leaders will probably receive an update on the state of play of banking union and fiscal support measures, with a focus on the fiscal strategy, the fiscal stance in the euro area, and the future of the ongoing coordinated fiscal response.


Read this briefing on ‘Outlook for the meetings of EU leaders on 25-26 March 2021‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2021/03/23/outlook-for-the-meetings-of-eu-leaders-on-25-26-march-2021/

Electronic evidence in criminal matters [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Sofija Voronova and Piotr Bąkowski,

© sveta / Adobe Stock

In December 2020, the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee adopted its reports on a pair of 2018 legislative proposals on electronic evidence in criminal matters, and mandates to start trilogue negotiations on the two proposals. The proposed new rules would allow law enforcement and judicial authorities to directly request (or temporarily secure) electronic data needed for investigating and prosecuting crime from electronic service providers operating in the EU (wherever the data is stored), and would impose an obligation on these service providers to appoint a legal representative for the purpose of gathering evidence and answering competent authorities’ requests. This two-part legislative initiative is the result of an almost two-year process of reflection on how to better adapt criminal justice to the challenges of the digital age, with a specific focus on jurisdiction in cyberspace and access to electronic evidence. The initiative is part of a broader array of international efforts to improve the legal framework and address persistent legal uncertainty that affects law enforcement and private parties alike.

Complete version

EU Legislation in progress timeline

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2021/03/22/electronic-evidence-in-criminal-matters-eu-legislation-in-progress/