Outlook for the meetings of EU Heads of State or Government, 17-18 October 2018

Written by Ralf Drachenberg and Suzana Anghel,

Brexit UK exit from EU negotiation process concept with Union Jack and European Union flag on a clock 3D illustration.

© niroworld / Fotolia

As has become the norm with European Council meetings, EU Heads of State or Government will convene on 17 and 18 October 2018 in different formats with varying compositions and levels of formality: a regular meeting of the European Council, and an enlarged Euro Summit of 27 Member States on 18 October, preceded by a European Council (Article 50) meeting on the 17 October over dinner. The agenda of the European Council meeting focuses on migration and internal security. Specific foreign policy issues might also be addressed at this meeting. The Euro Summit will discuss the state of play of negotiations on the deepening of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), with a view to the next Euro Summit in December. However, the priority issue for Heads of State or Government will be Brexit. At the European Council (Article 50) meeting, EU-27 leaders are expected to discuss the progress that has been achieved in the negotiations so far, and possibly call for an extraordinary summit in November 2018.

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

The Leaders’ Agenda identifies both migration and internal security as topics for the October 2018 European Council meeting. This is reflected in the annotated draft agenda. Heads of State or Government will follow up on the discussions held at their informal meeting in Salzburg in September, and in accordance with commitments made in previous conclusions, return more specifically to the reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS, Table 1). However, the issue of international trade, which was planned to be discussed in a Leaders’ Agenda session at this European Council meeting, will most likely not be addressed. This could be due to the change of length of this meeting – originally it should have taken place over two days, from 18 to 19 October – and/or because of recent developments regarding trade between the EU and the US.

2. European Council meeting

Migration

As so often over the past three years, migration will again be one of the main priorities for discussion at the European Council meeting of 18 October 2018. As set out in the conclusions of 28 June 2018, Heads of State or Government will return to the sensitive issue of the reform of the CEAS, and be updated by the current Austrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union on progress on this matter.

The European Council will follow up on Heads of State or Governments’ discussions on migration in the margins of the 20 September 2018 informal European Council meeting in Salzburg. Following that meeting, the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, indicated that EU leaders had agreed to organise a summit with the League of Arab States in February next year. The October European Council might provide further details of this planned summit. President Tusk also reported that the recently-launched dialogue with the Egyptian President, as well as similar initiatives, received backing from the European Council. It can be expected that the European Council will be briefed on the follow-up to the dialogue with Egypt and other countries, and express its views on the process. In this context, the foreign minister of Morocco, Nasser Bourita, recently categorically rejected the possibility of his country hosting EU asylum centres. The idea of ‘regional disembarkation platforms’ was one of the main migration-related conclusions of the 28 June 2018 European Council meeting. Also originating then was the agreement that, on a voluntary basis, Member States would share the effort to take care of rescued people on EU territory, according to international law. ‘Controlled centres’ would be set up in the Member States, to distinguish irregular migrants, who will be returned, from those in need of international protection.

A continuous call of the European Council has been to work more closely with North African partners. A further item discussed in Salzburg, which might be further detailed at this European Council meeting, is the High-Level Forum Africa-Europe on 18 December 2018.

The recent Commission proposal for a strengthened European Border and Coast Guard is also expected to feature high on the European Council agenda. According to President Tusk, Heads of State or Government agreed in Salzburg to prioritise this proposal, even if further discussions are needed on issues regarding sovereignty and the size of Frontex. Until now, the European Council had always considered the European Border and Coast Guard in relation to migration, but in Salzburg, Heads of State or Government discussed this issue in the context of the internal security debate. This change of categorisation illustrates a recent trend in the European Council towards more blurred lines between migration and internal security. (See EPRS Briefing, The role of the European Council in internal security policy).

Internal security

The October European Council meeting will be following up on the results of the previous discussions of Heads of State or Government at the Leaders’ Agenda meeting on internal security in Salzburg in September, and issue conclusions. Those discussions on internal security were based on a Leaders’ Agenda note by President Tusk, and concentrated on police and judicial cooperation, border security, cybersecurity and crisis-response capabilities.

Prior to the meeting in Salzburg, the European Commission had already adopted its proposal on ‘preventing the dissemination of terrorist content online’. Heads of State or Government are expected to welcome this proposal in their conclusions. Other points agreed on in Salzburg are expected to be further detailed in the European Council’s conclusions, notably those aiming to step up the fight against all forms of cyber-crime, manipulation and disinformation, and to speed up work on the Civil Protection Mechanism.

The European Council will also call for greater protection of the Union’s democratic systems and the combating of disinformation, including in the context of next May’s European Parliament elections. This issue was also an important element in the State of the Union speech by the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, in September, which was accompanied by concrete proposals. EU leaders are also expected to call to speed up legislation to better combat money laundering, and consider extending the competences of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office to include cross-border terrorist crimes.

Following a cyber-attack against the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague, which is assumed to have been carried out by the Russian military intelligence service (GRU), EU Heads of State or Government will consider cybersecurity as part of their deliberations, as Donald Tusk has announced. They are expected to deplore the incident and discuss means to strengthen cooperation on cybersecurity. In this context, the Heads of State or Government are also expected to ‘call for progress on the listing of relevant individuals and entities on the new EU chemical weapons sanction regime and to speed up cybersecurity legislation’. On 15 October 2018, the EU Foreign Affairs Council adopted a new sanctions-regime targetting the use of chemical weapons, as requested by the June European Council meeting.

The European Council will also reaffirm its previous conclusions regarding fighting terrorism and preventing radicalisation; inter-agency cooperation and improved information exchange; and improving the interoperability of information systems and databases

External relations

The European Council may address certain foreign policy issues. EU leaders might refer to the outcome of the consultative referendum held on 30 September 2018 in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and reaffirm the EU’s open-door policy. In a joint statement, the European Council President, Donald Tusk, and the NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, stressed that the ‘overwhelming majority of those voting’ favoured a European path for their country and invited the political elite ‘to seize this historic opportunity’.

Other issues

The European Council could reaffirm its commitment to the full implementation of the Paris Agreement in the run-up to the UN Climate Change Conference (COP24) to be held in Katowice in December 2018. The special report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, issued for COP24, also highlights the need to strengthen climate policies around the world to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. In the framework of the ‘Future of Europe’ debate in the European Parliament, several members of the European Council have stressed that the EU should set itself more ambitious goals in the fight against climate change.

3. Euro summit

On 18 October, EU leaders will meet for a Euro Summit in an inclusive format of 27 EU Member States (19 euro-area members, those Member States which have ratified the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the EMU, TSCG, plus the Czech Republic). They will discuss the state of play of negotiations on the deepening of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), with a view to the next Euro Summit in December.

Although President Tusk, in his letter to EU leaders of 21 September 2017, called for a first set of concrete decisions on EMU reform to be taken in June 2018, this did not happen. Instead, the June Euro Summit invited the Eurogroup and co-legislators to continue their work in the area of the Banking Union, so that the leaders could come back to these issues in December. Thus, the question of risk-sharing in financing the restructuring and resolution of failing banks will presumably be high on the agenda of the 18 October Euro Summit. It was agreed on 29 June 2018 that the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), which is owned by the 19 euro-area members, could be called upon to provide loans and guarantees as a last resort, but only if sufficient progress has been achieved on reducing the risks of bank failure in Member States beforehand. At that time, leaders also noted that the Economic and Financial Affairs Council on 25 May 2018 adopted its position on a package of measures aimed at reducing risk in the banking industry. As the President of the Eurogroup, Mário Centeno, has pointed out, these efforts should pave the way to setting up the ESM as a backstop to the Single Resolution Fund (SRF); furthermore, work on the European Deposit Insurance Scheme (EDIS) could also begin.

The Euro Summit on 18 October could also take up a number of issues regarding reform of the ESM, especially its future role in crisis prevention and in the design and monitoring of programmes involving Member States in trouble. These topics were discussed in the Eurogroup on 1 October.

4. European Council (Article 50) meeting

On 17 October, the Heads of State or Government of the EU-27 will review the state of play in the Brexit process. According to Donald Tusk, this will be the ‘moment of truth’ for these negotiations, as the European Council (Article 50) is expected to decide ‘whether conditions are there to call an extraordinary summit in November to finalise and formalise the deal’.

In July 2018, the UK government published its negotiating position, in the white paper on ‘The Future Relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union’, otherwise known as the ‘Chequers Plan’. Following the Salzburg summit, at which EU-27 leaders also addressed Brexit, Donald Tusk reported the European Council’s united view ‘that while there are positive elements in the Chequers proposal, the suggested framework for economic cooperation will not work. Not least because it risks undermining the Single Market.’ Donald Tusk also indicated that the Chequers proposals needed ‘to be reworked and further negotiated’ regarding the Northern Ireland border question. Finding an agreement for the latter issue remains one of the main stumbling-blocks in the negotiations for the withdrawal agreement. Following a meeting with the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, on 4 October 2018, President Tusk also recalled that the ‘EU is united behind Ireland and the need to preserve the Northern Ireland peace process’.

Besides the withdrawal agreement, the Article 50 negotiations should also produce a political declaration outlining how the future UK-EU relationship should look. President Tusk reiterated the EU’s willingness to conclude a ‘Canada plus, plus, plus deal’ with the UK, which would be far-reaching on trade, internal security and foreign-policy cooperation. Analysts report that there is a consensus among the EU-27 on a brief and relatively general declaration about the future relationship.

If EU-27 leaders agree to hold an special summit on Brexit, this could take place in mid-November 2018, as indicated by Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker.


Read this briefing on ‘Outlook for the meetings of EU Heads of State or Government, 17-18 October 2018‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/10/16/outlook-for-the-meetings-of-eu-heads-of-state-or-government-17-18-october-2018/

Ensuring more transparent and predictable working conditions [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Monika Kiss (1st edition),

Firma del contratto, mano che esce da computer

© ALDECAstudio / Fotolia

An employer’s obligation to inform their employees on the conditions applicable to their contracts is regulated by Directive 91/533/EEC. Major shifts in the labour market due to demographic trends and digitalisation, spawning a growing number of non-standard employment relationships (such as part-time, temporary and on-demand work), have made it necessary to revise the directive.

The European Commission has responded to the need for a change with a proposal aimed at updating and extending the information on employment-related obligations and working conditions, and at creating new minimum standards for all employed workers, including those on atypical contracts.

In the European Parliament, the Committee for Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL) has published a draft report focused on the scope of the directive, on employees’ working hours and the conditions for making information available to them, and on employers’ responsibilities.

Versions

EU Legislation in progress timeline

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/10/16/ensuring-more-transparent-and-predictable-working-conditions-eu-legislation-in-progress/

Interoperability between EU border and security information systems [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Costica Dumbrava, Katrien Luyten and Sofija Voronovna (1st edition),

Internet and network connection concept between laptop computer

© Nmedia / Fotolia

To strengthen EU external border management and enhance internal security, the European Commission has made several proposals to upgrade and expand European border and security information systems. As part of a broader process to maximise their use, the Commission presented legislative proposals for two regulations in December 2017 (amended in June 2018), establishing an interoperability framework between EU information systems on borders and visas, and on police and judicial cooperation, asylum and migration. The proposals seek effective and efficient information exchange and data sharing between EU information systems, by providing fast, seamless, efficient, systematic and controlled access to all the data authorities need to accomplish their tasks.

Versions

EU Legislation in progress timeline

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/10/15/interoperability-between-eu-border-and-security-information-systems-eu-legislation-in-progress/

CO2 emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Gregor Erbach (1st edition),

Eco friendly transportation concept. 3d rendering of green green truck icon on fresh spring meadow with blue sky in background.

© malp / Fotolia

In May 2018, the Commission proposed a regulation setting the first-ever CO2 emission performance standards for new heavy-duty vehicles in the EU, as part of the third mobility package. It would require the average CO2 emissions from new trucks in 2025 to be 15 % lower than in 2019. For 2030, the proposal sets an indicative reduction target of at least 30 % compared to 2019. Special incentives are provided for zero- and low-emission vehicles. The proposed regulation applies to four categories of large trucks, which together account for 65 %-70 % of CO2 emissions from heavy-duty vehicles. The Commission proposes to review the legislation in 2022 in order to set a binding target for 2030, and to extend its application to smaller trucks, buses, coaches and trailers.

Heavy-duty vehicles are responsible for around a quarter of CO2 emissions from road transport in the EU. Without further action, their emissions are expected to grow due to increasing road transport volumes.

In the European Parliament, the proposal was referred to the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, where the rapporteur presented his draft report in July 2018.

Versions

draft report without EESC

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/10/15/co2-emission-standards-for-heavy-duty-vehicles-eu-legislation-in-progress/

The EU and Asia [What Think Tanks are thinking]

Written by Marcin Grajewski,

People in meeting room and network

© denisismagilov / Fotolia

The heads of state or government of 51 countries will gather in Brussels on 18 and 19 October for the 12th Europe-Asia summit (ASEM) to discuss closer relations and global challenges. The meeting will focus in particular on trade and investment, connectivity, sustainable development, and climate and security challenges. The EU attaches growing importance to relations with Asian countries as the region’s economic and political weight increases and as US trade policy is increasingly unpredictable.

This note offers links to selected recent commentaries, studies and reports from major international think-tanks on EU-Asian relations, the situation in the region and some of its countries. The publication does not cover issues related to China, which were the topic of one of the previous editions in the series.

EU-Asia

How Asia and Europe should really be working together
Friends of Europe, October 2018

To counter extremism, Asia and Europe can empower women and increase their participation
Friends of Europe, October 2018

ASEM has a role to play in improved Asia-Europe cooperation on security
Friends of Europe, September 2018

Japan-EU EPA moving towards ratification: Its significance and prospects
Japan Institute of International Affairs, July 2018

European Union-Asia multilateral cooperation in financial services
Centre for European Policy Studies, June 2018

Prevention better than cure: The EU’s quiet diplomacy in Asia
European Union Institute for Security Studies, June 2018

Digital trade in Europe and Central Asia
Asian Development Bank Institute, June 2018

Reinvigorating market momentum and inclusive economies in Europe and Eurasia
German Marshall Fund, June 2018

The new EU strategy for Central Asia: A case for cultural diplomacy
Institute for European Studies, May 2018

Europe’s pivot to Central Asia
Royal United Services Institute, May 2018

Health diplomacy of the European Union and its member states in Central Asia
Institute for European Studies, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, April 2018

Europe and South-East Asia: An Exercise in diplomatic patience
European Centre for International Political Economy, April 2018

Budding ties? The impact of Brexit on Europe-Japan relations
Japan Institute of International Affairs, April 2018

Macron’s passage to India: A missed opportunity for Europe
European Council on Foreign Relations, March 2018

Assessing the effectiveness of the EU’s and Russia’s cultural diplomacy towards Central Asia
Institute for European Studies, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, February 2018

Reimagining Europe’s partnerships with India and Japan: A new trilateral?
Clingendael, Febraury 2018

Security and foreign relations

The future of the Quad is in Southeast Asia
International Institute for Strategic Studies, September 2018

Conflict zone Asia-Pacific
Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, June 2018

France and Central Asia: Time for a new vision?
Centre international de formation européenne, June 2018

Reinvigorating market momentum and inclusive economies in Europe and Eurasia
German Marshall Fund, June 2018

Twenty years into nuclear South Asia: Pathways to stability
Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, June 2018

The sun rises in the East: Asia’s increasing influence in Africa
Observer Research Foundation, May 2018

Uzbekistan: A new model for reform in the Muslim world?
Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and Silk Road Studies Program, May 2018

2018 en Asie: La démocratie à l’épreuve
Institut des relations internationales et stratégiques, May 2018

Turkey: Towards a Eurasian shift?
Istituto per gli Studi di Politica Internazionale, April 2018

Cooperation in Eurasia: Linking identity, security, and development
Istituto per gli Studi di Politica Internazionale, April 2018

Ce que nous dit le Boao Forum sur les plans de la Chine pour l’Asie
Institut Thomas More, April 2018

Russian-Chinese relations in Eurasia: Harmonization or subordination?
Finnish Institute of International Affairs, April 2018

Getting out from “in-between”: Perspectives on the regional order in post-Soviet Europe and Eurasia
Rand Europe, March 2018

Regionalism à la ASEAN: Past achievements and current challenges
Finnish Institute of International Affairs, March 2018

Southeast Asia seeks new partners in the era of “America First”
Council on Foreign Relations, March 2018

Regards sur l’Eurasie : L’année politique 2017
Centre d’études et de recherches internationales, February 2018

Cooperation and competition: Russia and China in Central Asia, the Russian Far East, and the Arctic
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, February 2018 

Is Southeast Asia really in an arms race?
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, East Asia Forum, February 2018

Taiwan’s role in East Asian security: Overlooked actor in a pivotal position
Finnish Institute of International Affairs, February 2018

Taiwan als Demokratievorbild in Asien
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, February 2018 

India: The Modi factor
Istituto per gli Studi di Politica Internazionale, February 2018 

Abe’s diplomacy at a crucial moment
Japan Institute of International Affairs, February 2018

Global security challenges and Japan’s national security thinking: Room to cooperate with the EU?
Istituto Affari Internazionali, February 2018 

Indiens Antwort auf die chinesische Seidenstraßeninitiative
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, January 2018

Economy and trade

Strengthening maritime cooperation and security in the Indian Ocean
International Institute for Strategic Studies, September 2018

ASEAN as the architect for regional development cooperation
The Asia Foundation, September 2018

ASEM open and fair trade area: From vision to reality
Friends of Europe, September 2018

An Asia super grid would be a boon for clean energy, if it gets built
Council on Foreign Relations, September 2018

China-India-Japan in the Indo-Pacific: Ideas, interests and infrastructure
Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, September 2018

Financing and implementing the quality infrastructure agenda
Centre for Strategic and International Studies, September 2018

The roles of Japan and ASEAN in concluding RCEP negotiations
Japan Institute of International Affairs, August 2018

Asia leads the world’s response to protectionism
Peterson Institute for International Economics, July 2018

Could India become an economic superpower?
Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade, April 2018

The Asia–Africa growth corridor: Bringing together old partnerships and new initiatives
Observer Research Foundation, April 2018

Of streams of data, thought, and other things: Digitalisation, energy policy, and innovation capacity from an Asian perspective
Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, April 2018

Along the road: Sri Lanka’s tale of two ports
European Union Institute for Security Studies, April 2018

Regulating for a digital economy: Understanding the importance of cross-border data flows in Asia
Brookings Institution, March 2018

Fostering green finance for sustainable development in Asia
Asian Development Bank Institute, March 2018

Introducing greening strategies in emerging economies
The Asia Foundation, February 2018

Connecting the dots: Eurasian transport in 2030
Friends of Europe, February 2018

The geopolitics of online taxation in Asia-Pacific: Digitalisation, corporate tax Base and the role of governments
European Centre for International Political Economy, January 2018

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/10/12/the-eu-and-asia-what-think-tanks-are-thinking/

Access to the international market for coach and bus services [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Maria Niestadt (2nd edition),

The white bus traveling on asphalt road lined avenue of trees in a rural landscape on a bright sunny day

© am / Fotolia

The European Union aims to ensure that road transport rules are applied effectively and without discrimination. The current rules governing the access to the international market for coach and bus services appear to have been only partly effective in promoting this mode of transport. There are still differences in rules on access to national markets, differences in openness of national markets, diverse national access arrangements and discrimination in access to terminals in some EU countries.

In an attempt to address the issue, the European Commission adopted a legislative proposal on 8 November 2017 to amend the EU rules for access to the international market for coach and bus services. The proposal is part of its ‘Europe on the Move’ package, which aims to modernise European mobility and transport. The rapporteur published his draft report on 15 June 2018, and the Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism is expected to vote on it in the coming months.

Versions

EU Legislation in progress: Committee vote

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/10/11/access-to-the-international-market-for-coach-and-bus-services-eu-legislation-in-progress/

EPRS-OECD conference: policies can mitigate impact of jobs losses from automation

Written by Marcin Grajewski,

EPRS Policy roundtable – The impact of automation:Identifying jobs at risk

Technological and digital revolutions are reshaping labour markets across the world, with many jobs likely to disappear or to be significantly transformed over the next 15 years, as robots and computers learn to perform an increasing number of tasks, according to analysts speaking at a conference in the European Parliament. In response, governments need to foster policies to master automation, rather than reject it, and create jobs in the technologically transformed environment, as well as alleviate the associated negative impacts with social protection measures. The analysts present also remarked that the European Union should step up efforts to catch up with the United States and China in new technologies. The event, entitled ‘The impact of automation: identifying jobs at risk’ was organised by the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), at the European Parliament Library Reading Room on 25 September 2018.

WEBER, Renate

WEBER, Renate

‘This topic of the impact of automation has been absent from the agenda until recently… Some paint a catastrophic future. It is true that many jobs will be lost, but they will also be transformed into something else and a new one created, with the right policies’, said Renate Weber (ALDE, Romania), Vice-Chair of the European Parliament Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, opening the debate.

The conference focused on the recent OECD report, Putting faces to the jobs at risk of automation, which examines professions and skills that will sooner or later no longer be needed thanks to automation, digitalisation and artificial intelligence (AI). The paper says that about 14 % of jobs in the OECD’s 36 mostly industrialised countries are highly likely to be automatable (17 % in the EU), while another 32 % could face substantial change in how they are carried out.

QUINTINI, Glenda

QUINTINI, Glenda

‘Some countries are more prone to automation than others as they have a different industrial structure. Germany, for example, has a relatively high risk of automation as manufacturing is still very important there. It depends what economic sectors are in the economy, but also what people do in those sectors’, noted Glenda Quintini, Senior Economist of the Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs at the OECD.

Among the OECD countries, Slovakia is the most susceptible to automation. This may be because of its large automotive sector, where vehicles are often assembled from parts produced elsewhere. Norway is the least vulnerable to the process.

In general, the highest risk of automation is concentrated in routine jobs with low skill requirements. The manufacturing and agricultural sectors, as well as some service jobs, are most likely to be affected. But there are also examples of white collar professions that are being automated, such as investment bank traders or paralegals. Sharing economy firms are reshaping transport and tourism. The development of autonomous vehicles puts many drivers’ jobs at risk.

The lowest risk of automation is for cognitive, non-routine jobs and those where human contact is valued, such as managerial professions, fine arts, negotiators or social care workers. ‘The qualities needed are creative intelligence and social intelligence’, said Quintini. However, physical tasks related to perception and manipulation in an unstructured, complex environment will also be difficult to automate.

In the past, new technologies often eliminated many jobs, yet new ones were soon created, as was the case during the industrial revolution. However, whereas in the past changes took decades, allowing for gradual adjustment, they now take place in years, posing a challenge to people’s job security and way of life.

Reinhilde Veugelers

Reinhilde Veugelers

‘There will be destruction, but there will also be creation, and a challenge from the policy perspective is to ensure that there is enough new activities, jobs created and … enough social protection’, said Reinhilde Veugelers, professor at KU Leuven and senior fellow at the Bruegel think tank.

Firstly, automation and digitalisation need to be mastered. The USA and China have outpaced the EU in this area. ‘The EU has not really shown in the past the strong capacity to lead in that digital and innovation here’, said Professor Veugelers, calling for more and smarter investment in new technologies, and highlighting the importance of research in artificial intelligence, which is ‘a general purpose technology, helping to innovative activities in other sectors’. Here, Renate Weber expressed concern about the transparency of the Chinese AI programme, saying ‘Do we know what is happening in China? I have my doubts’.

Secondly, education systems need to be adapted to teach children and youth the right skills, that is develop cognitive and social intelligence and learn to work in the digital context. Reinhilde Veugelers argues that AI could be useful in training for digital skills. Another crucial policy instrument is adult learning, as few people will have a job that is ‘guaranteed for life’. This needs to be accompanied by efforts to combat the currently growing wealth inequalities, as the poorest in society are the least likely to get proper education or retraining, propelling the vicious circle.

Lieve Van Woensel, the Head of EPRS’ Scientific Foresight Service and the event’s moderator, pointed to a recent EPRS study, The impact of new technologies on the labour market and the social economy, which additionally suggests limiting the impact of automation on unemployment by reducing working time as productivity increases.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/10/11/eprs-oecd-conference-policies-can-mitigate-impact-of-jobs-losses-from-automation/

A Parliament unlike any other? Academic perspectives on the European Parliament

Written by Desmond Dinan and Gaby Umbach,

A Parliament unlike any other? Academic perspectives on the EP

A Parliament unlike any other? Academic perspectives on the EP

The European Parliament (EP) has long been a magnet for academic inquiry, especially since the relance européenne of the late 1980s. While supranationalists and liberal-intergovernmentalists sparred over the reasons for the EU’s revival, a new generation of quantitative and comparative political scientists turned their attention to the conduct of legislative decision-making. They focused on the EP, seeing it as a distinctive but not necessarily unique entity, best understood by means of comparative analysis. The idea of the European Union (EU) as a complex polity, as a system of multi-level governance, grew out of this approach.

Nevertheless, a gap opened between what political scientists observed and what officials and politicians experienced. People working in the EP undoubtedly enjoyed this academic attention, although they could not always recognise themselves or their institution in the books and articles that resulted from it. The contrast between works by practitioners and academics is sometimes striking, with thick description and empirical evidence being increasingly at odds with theoretical frameworks and conceptual approaches.

The problem might not simply be the result of over-specialisation, methodological innovation, and rising barriers to academic advancement. It could also be due to excessive faith in comparativism. The EP is, indeed, a parliament, to which the tools of parliamentary studies can, and should, be applied. However, the EP is not like any other parliament. It is a supranational, directly elected body, the only one of its kind in the world. The challenges and idiosyncrasies that come with such a singular status risk being lost in highly quantitative, comparative analyses. The greatest loss may be the failure of many academic works on the EP to capture the colour, drama, and political theatre that infuse the institution.

The apparent similarity between the EP and national parliaments, which the work of comparative political science has strongly reinforced, is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, the seemingly close comparison between the EP and its national analogues helps to make the EP more familiar to European citizens, thereby strengthening the institution’s informal legitimacy. On the other hand, the evident uniqueness of the EP, which comparative studies often miss or simply pass over, undermines the same informal legitimacy.

The best approach to analyse the EP, perhaps, is to use comparative methods to the extent that they help students and scholars of the EU to understand better how the EP operates. At the same time, it behoves EU scholars to emphasise the uniqueness of the EU polity and institutional apparatus, including the EP. Otherwise, EU scholarship runs the risk of missing a vitally important point about the EP, which is, quite simply, that it is a parliament unlike any other.

Inaugural lecture

These reflections formed the backdrop against which Desmond Dinan, Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University, Virginia, USA, and the first European Parliamentary Research Service Visiting Fellow, inaugurated the new EPRS Annual Lecture series on 11 July 2018, at the EP’s Library Reading Room in Brussels. Welcomed by Anthony Teasdale, Director-General of EPRS, and introduced by Mairead McGuinness, First Vice-President of the European Parliament, Dinan presented his analysis of the development of academic research on the EP, highlighting main trends and elaborating on discernible gaps.

In his lecture, Dinan sought to draw a mental and intellectual map of EP studies. The EP, as an institution in the broadest sense, incorporating norms, values, behaviour and organisational features, forms the features on this map. Academics are the self-appointed mapmakers, who try to outline the contours of the terrain and discern the connections between different EP features. The terrain of EP studies is multi-dimensional, and requires a multi- and an inter-disciplinary approach.

In general, Dinan identified a certain critical gap between academics analysis and parliamentary practice that often did not seem to reflect the same reality. Moreover, the strong focus on quantitative research and addiction to data mining often resulted in blindness towards the impressive environment parliament offered, including its ‘soft’ features and ‘sense of theatre’ that characterised supranational parliamentary work and life. Contextualisation of results was hence often missing in quantitative approaches, making them partially myopic to the reality of EP politics.

Acknowledging that his EPRS fellowship had deepened his personal, academic, and institutional understanding of such EP characteristics, for the purpose of his lecture, Dinan adopted a temporal perspective as well as an historical institutionalist approach. He subdivided his review of historical, political science, sociological, and anthropological research on the EP into four broad periods: 1952-58, corresponding to the existence of the Common Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC); 1958-79, from the launch of the European Economic Community, and with it the European Parliamentary Assembly, to the first European Parliament elections; 1979-92; from the first elections to the Maastricht Treaty, as a result of which the EP acquired real legislative power; and the period since 1992.

The Common Assembly

A Parliament unlike any other? Academic perspectives on the EP

Mairead McGuinness, Vice-President of the European Parliament,

From 1952 to 1958, the Common Assembly became subject to academic attention in view of growing interest in European integration. The dominant perspective of this phase in political sciences was International Relations (realism and liberal internationalism being especially relevant), while subsequent studies drew on diplomatic history. These two central disciplinary perspectives were later challenged by comparative politics in the case of the former and by political, social, and cultural history in the case of the latter, when research on the EU witnessed its ‘polity-building’ turn. Social and cultural institutionalism from the anthropological and political sociology perspective added to this.

Related to the early, academically often dismissed period of European integration, researchers were particularly interested in post-war global and regional institution building. The United Nations and the Council of Europe became special reference points of analysis in this phase. The early 1950s witnessed a shift of attention towards the assemblies of these new global and regional institutions, also putting the Common Assembly of the ECSC on an academic radar that was still more populated by studies on the consultative assembly of the Council of Europe, which contemporary academics expected to become the most relevant regional institution for Europe. Research on European integration at that time was partially influenced by German academic interest in federal institution-building, at a national level in the new Federal Republic and at the supranational level in Europe.

US – or US-based – academics were especially important, thanks to generous government funding, not least because of intense interest in geostrategic developments. Ernst B. Haas, a German-born, American academic, wrote his seminal work, The Uniting of Europe (1958), following a sabbatical year studying the High Authority in Luxembourg. In this book, Haas developed the theory of neo-functionalism to explain the emergence of the European Community and predict its development. This theory posited the idea of policy spillover, and suggested that European business and political elites would gradually shift their allegiance from the national to the European level of decision-making. For that reason, Haas was extremely interested in the role of the transnational families in the Common Assembly.

Other academics at the time were drawn to the Common Assembly not only because its members organised themselves into political groups, but also because of the Common Assembly’s right to hold the High Authority to account, and the eagerness of its members to extend the Assembly’s limited powers. Indeed, the behaviour and attitude of its members was different from any other assembly of the period as, from very early onwards, they pushed hard to maximise the political influence of their dual national and European mandates, aiming to extend the competences of the newly established supranational (parliamentary) level. Early scholars of European integration realised that the Common Assembly was far more interesting and politically important than the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Subsequent historical analyses of the Common Authority bore out the assessments of the early scholars. The work of Sandro Guerrieri stands out, in particular his 2016 magnum opus, Un Parlamento oltre le nazioni. L’Assemblea comune della CECA e le sfide dell’integrazione europea (1952-1958). Two other, recent contributions by historians are also noteworthy: an article by Mechthild Roos (2017) on the EP’s gain in power, 1952- 1979, and a book by Jacob Krumrey (2018), on the symbolic politics of European integration, which includes two chapters on the Common Assembly.

The European Parliament: early years

A Parliament unlike any other? Academic perspectives on the EP

Desmond Dinan, Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University, Virginia, USA, and the first European Parliamentary Research Service Visiting Fellow

This period of initial interest in the Common Assembly was followed by a second period of research, from 1958 to 1979, which was arguably the least satisfactory for the analysis of the EP. Not many new scholars turned their attention towards the Parliament. Developments in European integration itself added to the deceleration of academic enthusiasm for the EP, and debunked the dominant theory of neo-functionalism. Specifically, the Empty Chair crisis was not only a disruptive episode for the nascent European Community (EC), but also for scholarship on European integration. From this crisis emerged Stanley Hoffmann’s article (1966) on the resilience of the nation state, which inspired a realist-intergovernmentalist perspective on the trajectory of European integration during the problematic period of the 1970s.

The economic and political setbacks of the ‘long’ 1970s led some academics to suggest that the EC had entered the ‘dark ages.’ Recently, historians have pointed out that the Community was surprisingly vibrant at that time. There were important initiatives in fields such as global development, the environment, monetary policy, and foreign policy. There were also significant institutional developments, notably the treaty changes of 1970 and 1975 granting budgetary authority to the EP; the launch of the European Council in 1975; and the decision finally to hold direct elections to the EP, which took place in 1979. The prospect of direct elections elicited considerable academic interest, including a number of general texts on the EP. As many of these academic works pointed out, however, the EP was still far from being a ‘real’ or a ‘normal’ parliament, primarily because it still lacked legislative authority.

Analysts of the first direct elections asked a question which recurs to this day, after each round of EP elections: are these elections truly European or are they really separate sets of national elections? Karlheinz Reif and Hermann Schmitt answered the question in 1980 by claiming that the first direct elections were really nine second-order national elections (the EC then had nine Member States). Subsequent academic analyses, after each round of EP elections, has confirmed this conclusion. The first European elections in 1979 were nonetheless a huge event for the European Community as a whole, and a wake-up call for scholars analysing the EP, even if this led to occasional insomnia in EP studies between election phases, rather than to a sustained interest in the EP.

Acceleration of European integration

The fortunes of the EC, and with it the EP, changed profoundly during the next period under review, from 1979 to 1992. The year ‘1992’ became a catchphrase for the revival of European integration following implementation of the Single European Act (SEA) in 1987, and the launch of the single market programme at the end of the decade. The EP contributed to the relaunch of the EC with its famous Draft Treaty on European Union, which emerged from the work of Altiero Spinelli, the veteran Euro-federalist, who formed a cross-party group of MEPs to advocate treaty change. Academics at that time continued to write about direct elections (in 1984 and again in 1989), and about the emergence of the Draft Treaty and its possible impact on the inter-governmental negotiations that resulted in the SEA. Academics also appreciated that the SEA brought about a major increase in the EP’s legislative power. Though still unique, the EP was becoming more ‘normal’.

Academic interest in the EC picked up considerably in tandem with the acceleration of European integration. There was a return to ‘grand theory’, as academics sought to explain what was happening. The most striking of these contributions was an article by Andrew Moravcsik (1991), which argued that the SEA had come about because of a convergence of domestic policy preferences for market liberalisation and integration among the EC’s three leading Member States (France, Germany, and the United Kingdom). This was the basis of Moravcsik’s theory of liberal intergovernmentalism, which he developed in his book (1998), The Choice for Europe. With the revival of grand theory, came a revival of supranationalism as a means of understanding the events of the late 1980s. After all, the activism of Commission President Jacques Delors and the momentum that was building for monetary union seemed to be classic examples of supranational entrepreneurism and policy spillover.

At the same time, historians were producing the first, major, archive-based examinations into the origins and development of the European Coal and Steel Community and, later in the 1950s, of the European Economic Community (EEC). Foremost among them were John Gillingham, whose book (1991) Coal, Steel and the Rebirth of Europe, 1945-1955: the Germans and French from Ruhr Conflict to European Community, is a masterwork of economic and diplomatic history, and Alan Milward, the ‘father’ of European integration history. Having written a book (1984) about the economic recovery of Western Europe after the Second World War, Milward wrote a widely influential book (1992) on the origins of the EEC. The thesis of the book was contained in its title: The European Rescue of the Nation-State.

Dominance of comparative politics

A Parliament unlike any other? Academic perspectives on the EP

Desmond Dinan, Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University, Virginia, USA, and the first European Parliamentary Research Service Visiting Fellow

Although Moravcsik’s liberal-intergovernmentalism and Milward’s state-centrism dominated discourse about the nascent EU, an academic earthquake was turning the study of the EU away from international relations and towards comparative politics. The two seismic events were a book (1992) edited by Alberta Sbragia, and an article (1994) written by Simon Hix. Sbragia was then a scholar of US politics, who had not previously worked on the EC. Hix was a graduate student at the European University Institute. Sbragia had become interested in the EC because of the political implications of the SEA. While on sabbatical in Washington, she invited a number of other comparative political scientists to write about the emerging EU. In the ensuing book, Euro-Politics, Sbragia urged scholars of the EU to use the tools and techniques of comparative politics to explore the nascent polity. Similarly, Hix pointed out that an international relations approach was useful for understanding the development of European integration, but a comparative politics approach was essential for understanding the EU.

Because of the emergence of the EU as a political system in the 1990s, thanks first to the SEA and then to the Maastricht Treaty, research on the EU and the EP increased greatly, and experienced a major turn towards comparative politics. The subject of analysis had morphed into a political system; to describe its character, comparison was the name of the game. Subsequent scholarship continued to focus on direct elections, but also examined in detail the EP’s involvement in the cooperation and codecision legislative procedures. Following the Amsterdam Treaty, a revised form of codecision became almost the sole focus of such research. (codecision became the ordinary legislative procedure in the Lisbon Treaty). Other topics of interest to EP scholars include the organisation and cohesiveness of the political groups; the extent to which the main groups cooperate or collude in the conduct of EP affairs; the influence of the EP in the Constitutional Convention of 2002-2003; EP input into the intergovernmental conferences resulting first in the Constitutional Treaty, and second in the Lisbon Treaty; and the behaviour of individual MEPs.

The comparative approach to EP studies brought with it a major ‘quantitative turn,’ as scholars have mined datasets of roll call votes and other information to develop their arguments and hypotheses. Although of undoubted value for the analytical depth of disciplinary and specialised research on the EP, the contribution of such studies to general knowledge of the EP remains subject to debate. As a counter-balance to such specialisation, a number of EP practitioner-scholars have written articles and books explaining to academic and interested lay readers how the EP works. Notable among these authors are Richard Corbett, who was an EP official before becoming an MEP from 1999-2009 (he was re-elected in 2014); Francis Jacobs; Michael Shackleton; and Martin Westlake, who subsequently became Secretary-General of the Economic and Social Committee.

Q&A

Opening his reflections on academic research on the EP to discussion with the audience, Dinan responded to questions concerning the geographical provenience of scholars working on the EP; academic attention to the EP’s scrutiny powers; the decline and return of neo-functionalism as a grand theory; contemporary trends in grand theory; trends in interinstitutional relations; and current and possibly future developments, such as the Spitzenkandidaten process and transnational lists for EP elections.

As the lecture and discussion showed, scholarship on the EP is vibrant and remains highly relevant for understanding the course of European integration. Nevertheless, a new ‘qualitative and behavioural turn’ in research might help to provide answers to the pressing questions posed by ‘post-truth’ and ‘post-factual’ political discourse. EPRS and the academic community are ready to contribute evidence-based analysis to this new phase in research on the EP and, more broadly, on the EU.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/07/23/a-parliament-unlike-any-other-academic-perspectives-on-the-european-parliament/

Latest on the digital economy [What Think Tanks are thinking]

Written by Marcin Grajewski,

DIgital economy, financial technology concept on blurred background.

© Aleksey / Fotolia

The digital revolution, which is reshaping the global economy and societies offers numerous opportunities, but also poses many challenges, thereby putting governments in a dilemma on how to shape it. While empowering individuals in many ways and spurring impressive inventions, it poses threats of cyber-attacks and privacy abuse. It also raises concern about the future of the labour and social security markets.

This note offers links to commentaries and studies on the digital economy by major international think tanks. Earlier papers on the same topic can be found in a previous edition of ‘What Think Tanks are Thinking’, published in May 2017.

Meeting Europe’s connectivity challenge: The role for community networks
Centre for European Policy Studies, July 2018

Trading invisibles: Exposure of countries to GDPR
Bruegel, July 2018

No middle ground: Moving on from the crypto wars
European Council on Foreign Relations, July 2018

Quality criteria for algorithmic processes
Bertelsmann Stiftung, July 2018

Game over? Europe’s cyber problem
Centre for European Reform, July 2018

Women, technology and entrepreneurship: How European women use technology to get ahead and why it matters for Europe as a whole
Lisbon Council, June 2018

Protecting Europe against software vulnerabilities: It’s time to act!
Centre for European Policy Studies, June 2018

10 trends shaping innovation in the digital age
European Political Strategy Centre, May 2018

The global debate on the future of Artificial Intelligence
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, May 2018

Missions for EU innovation policy: Why the right set-up matters
Jacques Delors Institute, Berlin, May 2018

How big is China’s digital economy?
Bruegel, May 2018

Takes two to tax: On fair taxation of the digital economy
Jacques Delors Institute, Berlin, May 2018

Attribution in cyberspace: Beyond the “Whodunnit”
GLOBSEC Policy Institute, May 2018

Bei bester Gesundheit? Deutschlands E-Health im Check-up: Zukunftsplattform Bayern: Digitales Gesundheitswesen 2020
Hanns Seidel Stiftung, May 2018

What Europe needs to create more Spotifys
Centre for European Policy Studies, May 2018

How to manage successfully citizen consultations on Europe in the digital age?
Jacques Delors Institute, Berlin, May 2018

Data governance in the digital age
Centre for International Governance Innovation, May 2018

Automation and the future of work: scenarios and policy options
Centre for International Governance Innovation, May 2018

Industry 4.0 and European innovation policy: Big plans, small steps
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, May 2018

The ethics of artificial intelligence: How AI can end discrimination and make the world a smarter, better place
Lisbon Council, May 2018

How e-commerce reshapes markets and firms’ strategies
Bruegel, May 2018

Russian election interference: Europe’s counter to fake news and cyber attacks
Carnegie Europe, May 2018

The smart state
Policy Exchange, May 2018

Making America first in the digital economy: The case for engaging Europe
Atlantic Council, May 2018

The case for a transatlantic AI centre of excellence
GLOBSEC Policy Institute, May 2018

Digital Australia: An economic and trade agenda
Brookings Institution, May 2018

The invisible silk road: Enter the digital dragon
European Institute for Asian Studies, May 2018

Of Facebook revolutions and Twitter presidents: How digitalisation changes political decision-making
Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, April 2018

Fair working conditions for platform workers
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, April 2018

Cost and Value in banks: A model fit for the digital era?
Centre for European Policy Studies, April 2018

Are European firms falling behind in the global corporate research race?
Bruegel, April 2018

Rules for robots: Why we need a digital magna carta or the age of intelligent machines
Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, April 2018

Of streams of data, thought, and other things: Digitalisation, energy policy, and innovation capacity from an Asian perspective
Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, April 2018

More than just bitcoin: The potential of blockchain technology, using the example of Latin America
Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, April 2018

Économie collaborative: Comment encadrer et encourager le pouvoir de la “multitude”?
Terra Nova, March 2018

How local government reform is key to Europe’s digital success
Lisbon Council, March 2018

Regulating for a digital economy: Understanding the importance of cross-border data flows in Asia
Brookings Institution, March 2018

Digital trade: Is data treaty-ready?
Centre for International Governance Innovation, February 2018

The application of artificial intelligence at Chinese digital platform giants: Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent
Research Institute of the Finnish Economy, February 2018

The Internet and jobs: Opportunities and ambiguous trends
Centre for European Policy Studies, February 2018

Digital health: How can the EU help make the most out of it?
European Policy Centre, January 2018

The known traveller: Unlocking the potential of digital identity for secure and seamless travel
World Economic Forum, January 2018

Supporting press publishers in a digital era
European Policy Centre, January 2018

Cyber-diplomacy: The making of an international society in the digital age
Egmont, January 2018

Perspectives Asia: Digital Asia
Heinrich Böll Stiftung, January 2018

Who governs the Internet?
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, January 2018


Read this briefing on ‘Latest on the digital economy‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/07/23/latest-on-the-digital-economy-what-think-tanks-are-thinking/

Bus drivers [What Europe does for you]

With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for bus drivers.

Bus and coach travel plays a significant role in the daily life of many Europeans. In 2015, over 8 % of all passengers made use of these services, compared with 9.8 % for air transport and 6.7 % for rail. In 2014, there were over 361 000 road passenger transport enterprises in the EU. European roads are the safest in the world and the EU is striving to move closer to zero fatalities in road transport by 2050.


Twitter Hashtag #EUandME


Bus driver

© Jörg Hüttenhölscher / Fotolia

People wishing to work as bus or truck drivers undergo compulsory initial training. Subsequently, every five years professionals go through in-service training to update and refresh their skills and to renew their licences, which have a uniform validity. A medical check-up is a compulsory part of each renewal. The drivers’ training system is designed to increase their awareness of risks and ways to mitigate them. In 2018, the EU updated its rules on training for professional drivers, placing an emphasis on safety and the environment, easier recognition of training received in another EU country, and clearer minimum age requirements.

As tiredness is a major factor in 20 % of road accidents involving heavy commercial vehicles, the EU has standardised the time professional drivers can spend behind the wheel when part or all of the journey is in another EU country. This time should not exceed nine hours a day or 56 hours a week. Furthermore, drivers are obliged to take a break of at least 45 minutes after four and a half hours of driving.

Further information

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/07/23/bus-drivers-what-europe-does-for-you/