EU policies – Delivering for citizens: Future financing of EU policies [Policy Podcast]

Written by Matthew Parry,

plant growing out of coins with filter effect retro vintage style

© TK99 / Fotolia

The principle of subsidiarity means that the European Union (EU) should act where it can do so more effectively than its constituent Member States individually, and this also holds true in the area of public finance – the EU’s budget together with off-budget tools for financing EU policies. At €160.1 billion in 2018 – or approximately 1 % of Member States’ collective gross national income (GNI) – the EU budget is a great deal smaller in relative terms than EU national governments’ budgets. It serves mainly as a vehicle for investment, particularly in the areas of rural and regional development, industrial research and support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and political and economic development in neighbouring countries. These policies are designed to yield European public goods, with benefits that go beyond the national borders of individual EU countries. The Commission calculates that they do so for less than the cost of one cup of coffee a day per citizen.

During the 2014-2019 parliamentary term, the EU has been buffeted by challenges to its capacity to act, including financially, by geopolitical instability in the wider region, the migration and refugee crisis, and unresolved questions about the future of the euro, linked to the legacy of the economic, financial and sovereign debt crises. However, the EU has also seen several notable achievements. These include the update to the financial rules governing the use of EU funds, simplifying the rules and strengthening the focus on performance and results; the creation of a European Public Prosecutor’s Office to help address the roughly 0.35 % of the EU budget at risk of fraud; a mid-term revision of the multiannual financial framework (MFF), enhancing its flexibility to provide for a more responsive EU; the development of proposals for new sources of revenue in time for negotiations on the post-2020 MFF; and policy innovation in the field of financial engineering, helping EU finance go further by leveraging private investment.

The 2019 elections will mark a turning point in the future financing of EU policies, as negotiations on the next multiannual spending plan gather pace. The Commission has proposed a 2021-2027 MFF totalling 1.11 % of the post-Brexit EU-27’s GNI, and new sources of EU revenue to reduce the burden on national treasuries and forge a clearer link between revenue and policies. It also proposes to consolidate progress made in the current term with regard to budgetary flexibility, financial integrity and the rule of law, and in encouraging private investment in Europe.

Read this complete briefing on ‘EU policies – Delivering for citizens: Future financing of EU policies‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Figure 5 – EU budget and general government public spending (aggregate of EU Member States') in the EU (2017, € billion)

EU budget and general government public spending (aggregate of EU Member States’) in the EU (2017, € billion)

Source Article from

EU policies – Delivering for citizens: The migration issue [Policy Podcast]

Written by Joanna Apap and Anja Radjenovic,

Green wooden boat of migrants and Mediterranean Sea in Portopalo di Capo Passero, Sicily island, Syracuse, Italy, south Europe

© Alberto Masnovo / Fotolia

Refugee movements and migration are at the centre of global attention. In recent years, Europe has had to respond to the most severe migratory challenge since the end of the Second World War. The unprecedented arrival of refugees and irregular migrants in the EU, which peaked in 2015, exposed a series of deficiencies and gaps in EU policies on asylum, external borders and migration. In response to these challenges, the EU has embarked on a broader process of reform aimed at rebuilding its asylum and migration policies based on four pillars: reducing the incentives for irregular migration by addressing its root causes, improving returns and dismantling smuggling and trafficking networks; saving lives and securing the external borders; establishing a strong EU asylum policy, and providing more legal pathways for asylum-seekers and more efficient legal channels for regular migrants.

The record migratory flows to the EU witnessed during 2015 and 2016 had subsided by the end of 2017 and 2018. However, in order to deliver what the Commission calls an effective, fair and robust future EU migration policy, the EU, based on the Treaties and other legal and financial instruments, has been implementing both immediate and longer-term measures. Europe, due to its geographic position and its reputation as an example of stability, generosity and openness against a background of growing international and internal conflicts, climate change and global poverty, is likely to continue to represent an ideal refuge for asylum-seekers and migrants. This is also reflected in the growing amounts, flexibility and diversity of EU funding for migration and asylum policies inside as well as outside the current and future EU budget.

See also the parallel Briefing on ‘EU support for democracy and peace in the world’.

Visit the European Parliament homepage on migration in Europe.

Read this complete briefing on ‘EU policies – Delivering for citizens: The migration issue‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from

Mobile phones and health: Where do we stand?

Written by Nicole Scholz,

doctor holding her mobile

© Carlos David / Fotolia

Mobile phones are an integral part of everyday life, and it is hard to imagine a world without them. There are nevertheless health concerns, and the debate is ongoing.

There is a vast body of research on the potential risks from exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields such as those emitted by mobile phones. Yet scientific opinion remains split over the possibility of a link between mobile phone radiation and health problems. The results of research in this area have been interpreted in a variety of ways, and studies have been criticised for their methodological flaws, lack of statistical significance, and bias.

In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a branch of the World Health Organization, classified radiofrequency electromagnet fields as possibly carcinogenic (cancer-causing) to humans. The European Union defined basic restrictions for limiting exposure to electromagnetic fields in Council Recommendation 1999/519/EC, setting maximum values that should not to be exceeded. Moreover, in view of the scientific uncertainty, the European Environment Agency advises taking a precautionary approach.

Two sets of large-scale experimental studies involving laboratory animals, one from the United States National Toxicology Program and another from the Italian Ramazzini Institute, have recently brought the debate to the fore again. Both found varying levels of evidence of certain tumours in some of the animals tested. The results have nevertheless prompted diverging conclusions.

Read the complete briefing on ‘Mobile phones and health: Where do we stand?‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from

Brexit: Understanding the withdrawal agreement and political declaration

Written by Carmen-Cristina Cîrlig,

Alarm clock with the colors of the EU flag and one UK star. Representing the countdown for Brexit in march 2019.

© tanaonte / Fotolia

In November 2018, the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) endorsed, at leaders’ level, an agreement that would ensure an orderly UK withdrawal from the EU on 30 March 2019, as well as a political declaration setting out the main parameters of the future EU-UK relationship.

The withdrawal agreement is an extensive legal document aiming, among other things, to preserve the essential rights of UK nationals living in the EU-27 and EU citizens living in the UK; to ensure that all financial commitments vis-à-vis the EU undertaken while the UK was a Member State are respected; and to conclude in an orderly manner ongoing processes in various areas (e.g. circulation of goods already on the market and ongoing judicial procedures). Importantly, the agreement establishes a 21-month transition period, extendable once, to help businesses and citizens to adapt to the new circumstances, and the EU and UK to negotiate their future partnership agreements. During this time, the UK will be treated as a Member State, but without any EU decision-making and representation rights. Furthermore, one of the agreement’s three protocols, the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland contains a legally operational ‘backstop’, aiming to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland in the future. It has long been the most contested aspect of the withdrawal deal. The political declaration, by contrast, is a non-binding text, providing the basis for future EU-UK economic and security cooperation, taking into account both sides’ red lines and principles.

With just days to go to the Brexit deadline, the procedures to approve the withdrawal deal have still not been finalised, due to continuing opposition within the UK Parliament. While extending the Article 50 negotiating period now appears highly likely, all scenarios are still possible, including the UK leaving the EU without a deal at the end of March 2019.

This Briefing updates the earlier EPRS paper on The EU-UK withdrawal agreement: Progress to date and remaining difficulties, of July 2018.

Please also visit the European Parliament homepage on Brexit negotiations.

Read the complete briefing on ‘Brexit: Understanding the withdrawal agreement and political declaration‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from

Outlook for the meetings of EU leaders, 21-22 March 2019

Written by Ralf Drachenberg and Marko Vukovic,

highway board, options HARD or SOFT BREXIT

© kamasigns / Fotolia

On 21 and 22 March 2019, the European Council was due to focus primarily on economic, single market and climate change issues, as well as on external relations and disinformation. Due to the second negative vote in the House of Commons on the withdrawal agreement, on 12 March, Brexit is now expected to dominate the agenda of EU Heads of State or Government again. An extra meeting of the European Council (Article 50) has been added to the programme, to discuss possible next steps in the process, including possibly deciding on an extension of the negotiation period.

Regarding jobs, growth and competitiveness, the European Council is expected to discuss the future development of the single market, the capital markets union, industrial policy and European digital policy, in preparation for the next strategic agenda. In the external relations field, the focus will be on the forthcoming EU-China summit.

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

The Leaders’ Agenda identified economic issues and trade as topics for the March 2019 European Council meeting. This is more or less reflected in the annotated draft agenda, which puts emphasis on jobs, growth and competitiveness. However, the issue of economic and monetary union (EMU), which was due to be discussed in a Leaders’ Agenda session at this European Council meeting, will most likely not be addressed. Moreover, this will be only the second formal meeting of EU Heads of State or Government since April 2015 at which migration is not on the agenda.

At the start of the meeting, following the address of the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, the President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis, whose country currently holds the presidency of the Council of Ministers, will provide an overview on the progress made in implementing previous European Council conclusions. In terms of previous European Council commitments, the most relevant for this meeting are the call for an in-depth discussion on the future development of the single market, and for the provision of guidance on the overall direction and political priorities on climate change.

2. European Council meeting

Strengthening the economic base of the EU

At the March 2019 meeting, the Heads of State or Government will discuss the future development of the single market in all its dimensions. Building on the Commission’s communication on the internal market in a changing world, requested by the European Council to gauge progress on single market strategies, EU leaders will prepare the ground for the next strategic agenda for the single market, the European digital policy, capital markets union and industrial policy. A year ago, in its March 2018 conclusions, the European Council called ‘for increased efforts to deliver’ on the various single market strategies, and set yet another deadline for their completion by the end of the current legislative cycle. As underlined in the above-mentioned Commission communication, with only one third of the 67 legislative proposals already adopted as of November 2018, there is a need for renewed political commitment to the project.

Industrial policy is likely to be centre stage in the debate on competitiveness. In a Manifesto for a European industrial policy fit for the 21st Century, France and Germany called for a radical overhaul of the EU’s competition policy, to allow for the creation of European industrial champions. This initiative from February 2019 was triggered by the European Commission’s decision to block the merger of rail businesses owned by Germany’s Siemens and France’s Alstom. It also highlights the need for investment in new technologies (through InvestEU, the European Innovation Council and IPCEI) and the development of artificial intelligence (AI) in Europe.

Another contribution to the debate was provided in a February letter of 17 Heads of State or Government, from predominantly smaller Member States, to the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, as an input to the European Council’s next strategic agenda. It calls for an ‘offensive industrial policy to innovate and remain globally competitive in key technologies and strategic value chains’. Although, France and Germany stand out as not being among the signatories, both the manifesto and the letter focus on the challenges of digitalisation, artificial intelligence, where the EU needs to lead by unleashing the data economy, and the importance of integrated capital markets to finance investment and innovation.

The 17 also call for proper implementation and enforcement of the Services Directive. Professional qualifications should be guaranteed and Member States should commit to improving their performance in reducing service restrictiveness. As a contribution to the debate on services, Ireland, Finland, Denmark and the Czech Republic commissioned a report, ‘Making EU trade in services work for all’, published last November, which argues for more ambitious measures to remove obstacles to the cross-border provision of services in the EU. The report calls for full implementation and enforcement of the services directive which could, on a conservative estimate, add at least two per cent to the EU’s GDP.

The European Council is also expected to endorse the Council recommendation on the economic policy of the euro area, which is part of the 2019 European Semester exercise.

Climate change

The European Council is expected to give guidance and set the EU’s overall political priorities on climate policy. Climate change has regularly been on the agenda of the European Council in recent years, with EU leaders repeatedly reaffirming the EU’s commitment to the full implementation of the Paris Agreement. In response to a request formulated by the European Council in December 2018, and based on the European Commission communication, ‘A Clean Planet for all’, as well as a Presidency background note, the Council held ‘a policy debate on the EU’s long-term strategic vision for a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate neutral economy’. The Romanian Presidency undertook to inform the President of the European Council of the outcome of the policy debate held in the Council.

External relations

EU-China summit

The European Council will discuss the preparation of the forthcoming EU-China Summit, to be held in Brussels on 9 April 2019. The summit, which takes place annually, might address a wide range of issues of mutual interest, including security, trade, climate change, research and cultural cooperation, as part of the comprehensive strategic partnership defined by the EU-China 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation. Ahead of the European Council meeting of 21-22 March, on 12 March 2019, the European Commission and the High Representative published a joint communication entitled ‘EU-China – A strategic outlook’. They call for ‘full unity’ of the EU and its Member States in their relations with China, and invite EU leaders to endorse a set of ten actions. Some of the actions have a broad scope, which would require strategic reflection on the rules and functioning of the internal market. This is notably the case for rules applicable to EU industrial policy, where several Member States have recently put forward a set of proposals (see above). China was previously on the agenda of the European Council in March 2017, as part of a broader debate on trade. EU leaders then stressed that trade relations ‘should be strengthened on the basis of a shared understanding of reciprocal and mutual benefits’.

Other items

Fighting disinformation

Disinformation has been a regular item on the European Council agenda over the past year. In response to a request made by the European Council in June 2018, the European Commission and the High Representative presented an ‘action plan against disinformation‘ in December 2018. EU leaders then mandated the European Commission to start implementing the action plan and to continue work on countering disinformation, in particular through ‘decisive action at both European and national levels on securing free and fair European and national elections’. The Heads of State or Government are expected to take stock of progress made in the meantime, ahead of the European elections in May 2019.

25th anniversary of the European Economic Area (EEA)

EU Heads of State or Government will also hold an exchange of views with the prime ministers of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, to mark the 25th anniversary of the EEA.

3. European Council (Article 50) meeting

On 21 March 2019, EU-27 leaders will also meet in a European Council (Article 50) format to discuss the latest developments in the process following the United Kingdom’s notification of its withdrawal under Article 50 TEU.

On 11 March 2019, in Strasbourg, UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, and the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, agreed on an instrument relating to the draft withdrawal agreement and on a joint statement supplementing the political declaration. President Juncker stressed that the instrument ‘provides meaningful clarifications and legal guarantees on the nature of the backstop’, thereby complementing the withdrawal agreement without reopening it.

On 12 March 2019, the withdrawal agreement, including the additional instrument, was defeated by 391 votes to 242 in the House of Commons. Following this second rejection of the negotiated withdrawal agreement, on 13 March, Members of the UK Parliament also voted to rule out a no-deal scenario. On 14 March, MPs voted by 413 to 202 in favour of a requesting an extension of the Article 50 negotiation period from the EU.

Following these developments, the European Council (Article 50) is now expected to assess the next steps, and possibly decide upon the request for an extension of the Article 50 negotiation period, if so requested by the UK Prime Minister. The Treaty on European Union (TEU) stipulates that the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, can decide unanimously to extend this period. President Tusk indicated that he would ‘appeal to the EU-27 to be open to a long extension if the UK finds it necessary to rethink its Brexit strategy and build consensus around it’.

Attending the European Parliament’s plenary debate, in advance of this upcoming European Council meeting, the Romanian Secretary of State for European Affairs, Melania Gabriela Ciot, representing the Council Presidency, stated that the European Council will require ‘credible justification’ by the UK government for a technical extension of the Article 50 negotiations. Similar reactions came from other EU leaders, including the Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, the European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker and the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk. The European Commission’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, reiterated that, if the UK wants to leave the EU in an orderly fashion, the negotiated withdrawal agreement is the only possible way. He also stressed that ’the responsibility for the Brexit decision belongs solely to the United Kingdom, and today the responsibility to find a way out of the impasse that the negotiations are in, lies fair and square with the United Kingdom’.

During the plenary debate, some MEPs expressed their regret that yet another European Council meeting would be dominated by the Brexit debate, and that, as a result, other more pressing issues for the EU would not receive the necessary attention. MEPs also stressed that a prerequisite for a prolongation was for the UK Government to specify concretely what it intends to use the time for

Source Article from

Does technology exacerbate social polarisation?

Written by Philip Boucher,

Anthony Intraversato on Unsplash

Anthony Intraversato on Unsplash

With the Cambridge Analytica scandal, it became clear how technologies such as social media and techniques such as psychological profiling can be combined in election campaigns with worrying effects. Digital forms of personalised political messaging can be highly automated. They start and end with social media, which provides both the data for categorising users and the medium for targeting them with personalised messages. Messages might be designed to favour a particular candidate or to encourage widespread discord and mistrust. In either case, it could lead to more polarised societies in which citizens share less common ground and are less understanding of those with different political ideologies, attitudes to populism, or perspectives on specific topics such as immigration.

These same technologies and techniques also shape trends in news production and consumption. As newspaper sales dwindle, outlets increasingly rely upon advertising revenue generated by clicks, making extensive use of social media platforms and user profiling. Public debate increasingly occurs via these social media platforms in which citizens, politicians, companies and bots communicate directly to each other without the traditional filters of journalistic standards and editorial oversight. It has been suggested that, where citizens increasingly rely on such platforms for news, they risk entering ‘filter bubbles’ in which they are exposed to a narrow range of perspectives oriented around their own profiles, shielded from contrasting views, in a broad trend that could also lead to more polarised societies. In this context, STOA launched two studies to explore the mechanisms by which these technologies and techniques may foster polarisation in Europe, and published an accompanying Options Brief.

One study, conducted by Richard Fletcher and Joy Jenkins of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford, considered the effects of technology on news production and consumption across Europe and their potential to lead to more polarised societies. One of its key messages is how little we understand about the mechanisms that link news production and social polarisation. The internet has created more consumer choice, to the point where most people select their own news sources based on their ideologies and preferences. Yet, the review found little evidence to support the ‘filter bubble’ thesis, or that exposure to populist material has a significant effect on citizens with mainstream views. However, there are key exceptions to these findings at the fringes, with evidence that people who already hold extreme ideological views or attitudes to populism tend to develop even stronger perspectives when exposed to news with which they either strongly agree or strongly disagree. The authors suggest that individuals’ basic interest in current affairs is a key factor as – in today ‘s high-choice media environment – some users may opt-out of news consumption entirely. Such news aversion could be a worrying trend if healthy democracies rely upon citizens understanding their political system.

The other study was conducted by Lisa Maria Neudert and Nahema Marchal of the University of Oxford, and focused on trends in political campaigning and communication strategies. It highlighted a trend towards more emotionally charged content – particularly negative material that provokes fear, hatred or disgust – in political communications. While such highly charged and targeted messages may be effective, they can also escalate mistrust and tensions between groups with different perspectives and, thus, foster social polarisation. The review also highlighted that some ‘clickbait’ based on political issues may be designed for purely financial purposes, but have the side-effect of increased polarisation. In other cases, polarisation has been the deliberate aim of manipulative political campaigns by hostile foreign and domestic political actors, making use of automated bots and ‘dark ads’ to amplify disagreement, provoke hostility between different groups, and undermine social cohesion.

Hasty policy action that attempts to control communications directly – for example by restricting some media content or political expression – could do more harm than good, and could even have ‘chilling effects’ on democracy. However, both studies present policy options that could help to foster healthier digital environments and mitigate trends towards social polarisation. These are combined and further developed in the STOA Options Brief, which includes options targeting news consumption, digital divides, political communications, news producers and governance institutions.

The authors of both studies presented their work during the STOA Panel meeting on 14 March 2019, which can be viewed here.

tech and social polarisation poster

Source Article from

Is artificial intelligence a human rights issue?

Written by Mihalis Kritikos,

STOA-LIBE workshop on 'AI and human rights', 20-03-2019 - PosterArtificial intelligence (AI) poses new risks for human rights, as diverse as non-discrimination, privacy, security, freedom of expression, freedom of association, the right to work and access to public services. The current discussion focuses on whether and how the EU could develop a human rights-based approach to AI, given that there are no established methodologies to track effects/harm on human rights, to identify who is being excluded from AI systems and to assess the potential for discrimination in the use of machine learning.

Europe has the opportunity to shape the direction of AI at least from a socio-ethical perspective. The EU’s latest initiatives indicate the desire of its main institutional actors to react swiftly to these major human rights challenges and lead the development of a human-centric AI. More specifically, the European Commission communication on artificial intelligence for Europe (April 2018), launching the EU strategy on AI, made particular reference to the need to invest in people as a cornerstone of a human-centric, inclusive approach to AI, and reaffirmed its support for research into human-AI interaction and cooperation. Recently, the Commission’s High Level Expert Group on AI proposed the first draft AI ethics guidelines to the Commission, which address values protected by the Charter of Fundamental Rights, such as privacy and personal data protection, human dignity, non-discrimination and consumer protection. The guidelines ask all stakeholders to evaluate possible effects of AI on human beings and the common good, and to ensure that AI is human-centric: AI should be developed, deployed and used with an ‘ethical purpose’, grounded in, and reflective of, fundamental rights, societal values and the ethical principles of beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy of humans, and justice.

The recently adopted European Parliament resolution on a comprehensive European industrial policy on artificial intelligence and robotics makes explicit reference to the need for Europe to take the lead on the global stage by deploying only ethically embedded AI. It recommends that the Member States establish AI ethics monitoring and oversight bodies and encourage companies developing AI to set up ethics boards and draw up ethical guidelines for their AI developers, and requests an ethics-by-design approach that will facilitate the embedding of values such as transparency and explainability in the development of AI. The resolution points out that the guiding ethical framework should be based on the principles and values enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights, as well as on existing ethical practices and codes.


Are these initiatives sufficient in terms of safeguarding a human rights lens in the governance of AI? Do we need legally-binding norms in this field rather than soft-law instruments or even the development of new human rights? Should the EU legislators consider the need to integrate a requirement for systematic human rights impact assessments or even for developing new legal mechanisms for redress/remedy for human rights violations resulting from AI?

The Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA) and Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) are organising a workshop entitled ‘Is artificial intelligence a human rights issue?’ to discuss and evaluate the efficiency and adequacy of these EU-wide initiatives from a human rights’ perspective. This will be an opportunity to learn more about the effects of AI upon the protection of human rights, and to participate in a debate with key experts in the subject. The workshop will open with a welcome address from STOA Chair Eva Kaili (S&D, Greece), and a keynote speech by Professor Jason M. Schultz, from the NYU School of Law and former Senior Advisor on Innovation and Intellectual Property to the White House, and author (along with Aaron Perzanowski) of ‘The End of Ownership: Personal Property in the Digital Economy‘.

A welcome address from STOA Chair Eva Kaili (S&D, Greece) will be followed with a keynote speech by Professor Jason M. Schultz of the NYU School of Law, former Senior Advisor on Innovation and Intellectual Property to the White House, and author (along with Aaron Perzanowski) of a well-known book on The End of Ownership: Personal Property in the Digital Economy. This will be followed by three panel discussions, including presentations from a wide range of experts.

The first panel includes presentations from Ekkehard Ernst, Chief Macroeconomist, Research Department, ILO, Joanna Goodey, Head of Unit, European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights and Dimitris Panopoulos, Suite 5. Panel 1 will be moderated by STOA Chair, Eva Kaili,

Joining Panel 2 will be Silkie Carlo, Chief Executive of Big Brother Watch, Lorena Jaume-Palasi, founder of the Ethical Tech Society and Lofred Madzou, Project Lead, AI & Machine Learning, World Economic Forum. This panel is moderated by Marietje Schaake (ALDE, the Netherlands).

Panel 3 includes Can Yeginsu, Barrister, 4 New Square Chambers, Professor Aimee van Wynsberghe, TU Delft-Member of the High-Level Expert Group on AI and Fanny Hidvegi, Access Now, Member of the High-Level Expert Group on AI, and is moderated by Michał BONI, (EPP, Poland), who will also moderate the Q&A discussion and debate and make the closing remarks.

Interested in joining the workshop? Watch the live webstream on the STOA event page.

Source Article from

The cost of non-Europe in the area of legal migration

Written by Wouter van Ballegooij and Elodie Thirion,


© ArTo / Fotolia

Ensuring that legally residing non-European Union nationals, referred to as third-country nationals (TCNs), are treated fairly and in a non-discriminatory manner is the goal of the EU’s efforts to build a comprehensive EU immigration policy. Accordingly, the EU has adopted secondary legislation covering different categories of TCNs and various stages of the migration process. The European Parliament has furthermore highlighted the need for a comprehensive labour migration policy for TCNs, and for better integration of TCN migrants to meet the European Union’s objectives for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, as well as to fill gaps identified in the EU labour market – which lead to loss of individual income and tax revenue.

Gaps and barriers

This cost of non-Europe report however identifies a number of gaps and barriers. These result from the lack of incorporation and implementation of international and EU human rights and labour standards, and the sectoral approach taken in the EU legal framework, which does not cover all TCNs and not in the same way, and in part leaves parallel national schemes in place. The report particularly highlights a number of obstacles TCNs face, including regarding equal treatment, entry and re-entry conditions, work authorisation, residence status, intra-EU mobility, social security coordination, family reunification and the recognition of qualifications.

Visit the European Parliament homepage on migration in Europe.


This cost of non-Europe report draws a distinction between impacts at the individual level, due to an inadequate protection of fundamental rights and freedoms, and economic impacts upon Member States and the EU.

Beyond giving rise to discrimination, the gaps and barriers in EU action and cooperation in the area of legal migration result in income losses at individual level and lost tax revenue at societal (aggregate EU) level. The greatest impacts are due to unequal treatment with regard to access to employment, employment conditions including remuneration, and the barriers imposed on family migrants.

At societal level, these deficiencies undermine the EU’s ability to attract workers, and especially to address shortages in particular sectors or occupations in the EU labour market, as well as the effects of demographic change (an ageing population), and to boost innovation and growth. These deficiencies all negatively impact GDP growth. It is, however, very difficult to estimate a monetised benefit of the EU attracting further TCNs. This is due to the many factors to take into account, especially when making longer-term predictions.

Policy options

This report identifies seven policy options the EU could adopt to tackle the identified gaps and barriers:

  • implement and enforce existing standards more efficiently;
  • extend EU legislation gradually to include other sectors; or
  • revisit the idea of adopting a binding immigration code covering all TCNs.

Depending on the policy option pursued, some €21.75 billion in individual and economic benefits could be achieved each year.

Read this study on ‘The Cost of Non-Europe in the area of legal migration‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from

Plenary round-up – Strasbourg, March I 2019

Written by Katarzyna Sochacka and Clare Ferguson,

Plenary session - Debate with the Prime Minister of Slovakia on the Future of Europe

© European Union 2019 – Source : EP

Highlights of the March I plenary session included debates on Brexit, preparation of the European Council meeting of 21-22 March 2019, and the latest debate on the Future of Europe, with Peter Pellegrini, Slovakia’s Prime Minister. Parliament also held debates on a proposed European human rights violations sanctions regime; the situation in Venezuela and Nicaragua; opening EU-US trade negotiations; climate change; gender balance in nominations to EU economic and monetary affairs bodies; and on the urgency to establish an EU blacklist of third countries with weak regimes on anti-money-laundering and countering terrorist financing. Finally, Parliament adopted first-reading positions on three further proposed funding programmes for the 2021-2027 period. A number of Brexit-preparedness measures were also adopted.

European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS)

Members debated and approved the interinstitutional agreement on upgrading the current European Criminal Records Information System, ensuring that the revised system upholds fundamental rights, that dual nationals will not be subject to the same fingerprinting requirements as third-country nationals, and that the need to include data on dual-national citizens in the system will be re-assessed in a future revision.


To increase resilience to cyber-attacks that could severely disrupt citizens’ lives, health and environment, it is proposed to give a stronger role to the current EU Agency for Network Information Security (ENISA), and to create a cybersecurity certification framework for IT systems, repealing the previous EU Cybersecurity Act. Members debated two reports: approving a trilogue agreement broadening ENISA’s role to consulting and advising governments, citizens and businesses on cybersecurity; and referring the establishment of a European Cybersecurity Industrial, Technology and Research Centre and a Network of National Coordination Centres, back to the Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee.

Unfair trading practices in the food supply chain

Members debated and approved, by an overwhelming majority, the text of the new directive on unfair trading practices in the food supply chain, to combat the disadvantages small farmers experience when competing against large conglomerates. Parliament’s Agriculture & Rural Development Committee has succeeded in ensuring that the rules extend to all types of actors, include all agricultural products, and cover an extended list of prohibited unfair trading practices. The EU Council must formally approve the directive before it enters into force. EU Member States will then have 24 months to introduce the new rules into national legislation.

Revising the European citizens’ initiative

Although the European citizens’ initiative has enabled a million or more EU citizens to bring issues, such as ‘Right2Water’ and ‘Ban Glyphosate’, to the forefront of EU attention, Parliament has criticised the mechanism for its lack of effectiveness. Members debated and approved an interinstitutional agreement on revising the European citizens’ initiative to ensure that successful initiatives have greater political impact. The revision includes stronger support for organisers, simpler rules, better digital and physical facilities, longer deadlines for European Commission responses, and a new centralised collection system (by 2020).

European Accessibility Act

Seeking to ensure that the 70 million people in the EU who live with a disability are able to access both products (such as computers or phones) and services (such as transport or banking), Parliament debated, and adopted by a very strong majority, a text agreed in interinstitutional negotiations in view of the adoption of the long-awaited European Accessibility Act. The proposed directive aims to harmonise accessibility requirements and clarify the definition of the obligation of accessibility, as laid down in EU law.

Visa Information System

Parliament adopted new rules for a revised EU Visa Information System, which will tighten background checks on visa applicants, and improve information exchange between EU countries, where gaps lead to less security for EU citizens.

Minimum coverage for potential losses stemming from non-performing loans

Following the financial crisis, many citizens and businesses found it difficult to repay loans, leading to a large number of non-performing loans on EU bank balance sheets. Members debated and adopted a provisional agreement between Parliament and Council to amend the current Capital Requirements Regulation (CRR), obliging banks to carry minimum reserves to cover losses on such loans.

Safeguarding competition in air transport

Parliament debated safeguarding competition in air transport and approved the text agreed in interinstitutional negotiations. As the original legislation to protect the EU against possible unfair commercial practices in international aviation was ineffective (and never used), the revised regulation seeks to ensure both a high level of connectivity and fair competition with air carriers based outside the EU, allowing the Commission to act if competition is distorted by third-country operators.

Establishment of the European Monetary Fund

Many EU countries experienced financial difficulties during the 2008 financial crisis, leading to the creation of the European Stability Mechanism. Members debated and adopted an interim report, prepared jointly by Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) and Budgets (BUDG) Committees, on proposals to transform this intergovernmental mechanism into a European Monetary Fund. The changes would mean decisions on financial support would be taken by reinforced qualified majority (85 % of the votes), instead of unanimity. However, a decision by Council (where there is marked reluctance on the part of Member States), is still pending – the proposal itself being subject to the consent procedure (under which Parliament formally intervenes only at the end, to accept or reject the Council’s text).

Guidelines for the 2020 EU budget

Next year, 2020, is the last in the current multiannual financial framework, and Members debated and adopted a BUDG committee report on Section III of the proposed guidelines for the 2020 EU budget. It calls for an ambitious budgetary commitment prioritising innovation and research for economic growth, security, improving living and working conditions for citizens, and combating climate change.

Turkey’s 2018 country report

Parliament debated and adopted its position on the 2018 country report on Turkey, which addresses the country’s EU accession aspirations. Human rights issues in Turkey led the Committee on Foreign Affairs to recommend formal suspension of accession negotiations. Nevertheless, it also recommends continued dialogue, support for civil society and democratic reform, and recognises Turkey’s role in assisting refugees.

EU-Afghanistan Cooperation Agreement

Parliament gave its consent to the conclusion of the EU-Afghanistan Cooperation Agreement on Partnership and Development, which seeks to support the Afghan government in peace- and state-building, as well as development and trade, on fighting terrorism and on human rights.

Opening of trilogue negotiations

An Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) committee decision to enter into interinstitutional negotiations regarding type-approval requirements for motor vehicles and their trailers with regard to the safety and protection of their occupants and vulnerable users was confirmed.

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

Source Article from

Presidential elections in Ukraine [What Think Tanks are thinking]

Written by Marcin Grajewski,

Election of the President of Ukraine. Voting. The symbol of choice. Politics. Democracy. Ukrainian flag against a blue cloudy sky. Flag of Ukraine in sunlight and glare. Blue and yellow flag develops in the wind.

© velbort / Fotolia

Ukraine will hold presidential elections on 31 March, five years after the Maidan protests resulted in the impeachment of pro-Kremlin President Viktor Yanukovich, setting the country on a course to depeen ties with the West. Russia reacted by launching a hybrid war against Ukraine, which resulted in the illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula in March 2014, and in military aggression in eastern Ukraine. The outcome of the ballot is uncertain, but the new leader is expected to continue efforts of incumbent President Petro Poroshenko to deepen relations with the European Union and NATO,and continue the country’s reform process, including anti-corruption measures.

A record 44 candidates are contesting the election, with actor and political novice Volodymyr Zelenskiy holding the lead in opinion polls, followed by Poroshenko and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko. If no candidate secures an absolute majority in the first round, the two top contenders will face each other in a run-off on 21 April.

This note offers links to recent commentaries, studies and reports from major international think tanks on the situation in Ukraine .

Ukraine: What comes after the presidential election?
Carnegie Europe, March 2019

Who is ready to lead Ukraine?
Atlantic Council, March 2019

Patriotism, pressure, populism: How Poroshenko can win
Carnegie Europe, March 2019

No good deed goes unpunished in Ukraine
Atlantic Council, March 2019

Der Donbas-Konflikt
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, February 2019

Kremlin-linked forces in Ukraine’s 2019 elections: On the brink of revenge?
Institut français des relations internationales, February 2019

Ukrainian society ahead of the elections
Carnegie Europe, February 2019

Ukraine’s leading presidential candidates (minus Poroshenko) promise to fight corruption
Atlantic Council, February 2019

Ukraine’s experiment with trust
European Council on Foreign Relations, February 2019

Russia looks to strike at Ukraine’s south again?
Atlantic Council, February 2019

The Ukraine model for Brexit: Is dissociation just like association?
Centre for European Reform, February 2019

L’industrie de défense Ukrainienne
Groupe de Recherche et d’Information sur la Paix et la Sécurité, February 2019

What will the 2019 Ukraine elections spell for the Donbas conflict?
Istituto Affari Internazionali, February 2019

And yet it moves: Post-Soviet frozen conflicts in 2019
Istituto Affari Internazionali, February 2019

The European deterrence initiative
Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment, January 2019

Elections in 2019: Risks of more interference
German Marshall Fund, January 2019

The Sea of Azov should not become a Russian lake
European Policy Centre, December 2018

No Russian let-up on Ukraine
Rand Europe, December 2018

Advancing natural gas reform in Ukraine
Council on Foreign Relations, December 2018

Crimea annexation 2.0
Carnegie Europe, November 2018

Ukraine’s new front is Europe’s big challenge
European Council on Foreign Relations, November 2018

Time for Trump to stand up to Putin after the Sea of Azov attack
German Marshall Fund, November 2018

Supporting political stability by strengthening local government
Danish Institute of International Studies, November 2018

What is happening in relations of Ukraine with its western neighbouring states?
International Centre for Policy Studies, October 2018

Occupied Crimea: Europe’s grey zone
European Policy Centre, October 2018

A Church conflict brews in Ukraine
Carnegie Europe, October 2018

Nobody wants us’: The alienated civilians of Eastern Ukraine
International Crisis Group, October 2018

The attitude of Ukrainians toward social democracy
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, October 2018

Migration from Ukraine to Poland: The trend stabilises
Centre for Eastern Studies, October 2018

Russia vs. Ukraine: More of the same?
Brookings Institution, October 2018

The struggle for good governance in Eastern Europe
Centre for European Policy Studies, September 2018

Ukraine’s incomplete transformation
Carnegie Europe, September 2018

Deepening EU-Ukrainian relations: What, why and how?
Centre for European Policy Studies, September 2018

How Eastern Ukraine is adapting and surviving: The case of Kharkiv
Carnegie Europe, September 2018

Ukraine and its neighbors: Analysis of regional trends
International Centre for Policy Studies, September 2018

Rebuilding Ukraine: An assessment of EU assistance
Chatham House, August 2018

How Ukraine’s government has struggled to adapt to Russia’s digital onslaught
Council on Foreign Relations, August 2018

Ukraine’s Helsinki hangover
German Marshall Fund, July 2018

Ukraine: The struggle for reforms continues
Bruegel, July 2018

Integrity on trial: Judicial reform in Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova
Centre for European Policy Studies, June 2018

Ukrainian elections: Poroshenko and proliferating populists
European Council on Foreign Relations, May 2018

Poroshenko stands alone: Ukraine politics in a pre-election year
Centre for Eastern Studies, May 2018

A route to national resilience: Building whole-of-society security in Ukraine
International Centre for Defence and Security, April 2018

The EU twinning instrument in Ukraine: Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
Centre for European Policy Studies, April 2018

Russian social media influence: Understanding Russian propaganda in Eastern Europe
Rand Europe, April 2018

Read this briefing note on ‘Presidential elections in Ukraine‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from