Pushing for an adequate response to online disinformation [European Parliament impact 2014-2019]

The power of the European Parliament

The only directly elected European Union (EU) institution; the European Parliament’s (EP) power and influence in pursuit of citizens’ interests have evolved significantly, transforming it into a full-fledged legislative body and forum of discussion and engagement at the heart of representative democracy, whose influence is felt in virtually all areas of EU activity.
What are then the European Parliament’s main powers?

What difference does the Parliament’s work make to how Europeans live their lives? This series highlights some practical examples of EP impact during the 2014-2019 legislative term.

EP POWERS BudgetThe visibility of disinformation as a tool to undermine democracies increased in the context of Russia’s hybrid war against Ukraine. It gained notoriety as a global challenge during the the United States presidential election campaign in 2016, and in the context of the UK referendum on EU membership the same year. The EU has made active efforts to curb pro-Kremlin disinformation since 2015, when High Representative/Vice President Federica Mogherini set up a ‘StratCom Task Force’ to counter pro-Kremlin disinformation in the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood in response to the March 2015 European Council, which stressed the need to counter ‘Russia’s ongoing disinformation campaigns’.

The European Parliament has consistently and with broad political consensus been pushing the issue of a European response to disinformation to the top of the agenda, urging the EU to provide sufficient tools and resources with a view to responding adequately to the pressure on the information ecosystem in its Member States and its Neighbourhood. In its consistent push for a coordinated European response to disinformation and third-party propaganda, Parliament has used a mix of tools: non-legislative resolutions, hearings and its budgetary power. The latter was used particularly visibly in its support for the East StratCom Task Force. In its November 2016 resolution on strategic communication to counteract anti-EU propaganda by third parties, Parliament called for the StratCom Task Force to be turned into ‘a fully fledged unit within the EEAS […] with proper staffing and adequate budgetary resources, possibly by means of an additional dedicated budget line’. The European Parliament’s amendments to the EU budget for 2018 included the pilot project ‘StratCom Plus’, aiming to increase capacity to fact-check disinformation in and beyond the EU. Thanks to the Parliament’s proposal, the East StratCom TaskForce was allocated its first real budget of €1.1 million. In addition, €800 000 was allocated to the EEAS for strategic communication.

After a Parliament resolution of June 2017 called on the European Commission to look into the problem of fake news and to verify the possibility of legislative intervention, the Commission published a communication on online disinformation in April 2018. As proposed by the European Council in June 2018 – against the backdrop of an expected increase in disinformation campaigns in the context of the May 2019 European elections – the Commission and the EEAS published an action plan on 5 December 2018, which foresees an increase of resources allocated to counter-disinformation efforts, notably the StratCom Task Forces and the Hybrid Fusion Cell in the EEAS. The EEAS’s strategic communication budget to address disinformation and raise awareness is set to increase from €1.9 million in 2018 to €5 million in 2019. This budget is to be accompanied by a reinforcement of staff, with an expected increase of 50-55 staff member planned until 2020.

In its March 2019 recommendation to the Council and the VP/HR, the European Parliament urged all the Member States to second national experts to the StratCom teams. It called for strategic communication to become a matter of high priority in the EU, and for a greater focus on fighting propaganda aiming to ‘undermine the foundations and principles of European democracy, as well as the sovereignty of all Eastern Partnership countries’. Highlighting data misuse in the 2016 UK referendum, it called for legislation to safeguard future election campaigns from ‘undue influence’.

Growing soft power – EU foreign policy

a mapping of EP powers

Ever since 1979, Members of the European Parliament have aimed to boost the role of the institution in the EU’s foreign policy. These efforts have continued to increase since the creation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) in 1993. The EP is seen internationally as a ‘capable moral force with strong focus on strengthening human rights, supporting democracy and enhancing the rule of law worldwide’ (P. Bajtay). The Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought is one specific example of this: set up in 1988, it is awarded each year to honour individuals and organisations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The EP’s comprehensive approach to democracy support is also part of this ‘soft-power’ approach to international relations. Launched in 2014, it includes election monitoring, mediation, as well as training of staff and members of non-EU parliaments. In addition to this, Parliament can convey messages in ways and through channels that are different from those employed by the EU’s traditional diplomatic players, for example, through its parliamentary networks.

The European Parliament has become a public forum both for representatives of partner countries and international organisations, as well as influential non-state actors. Parliamentarians pro-actively engage in inter-parliamentary delegations and missions to third countries, and are members of various joint parliamentary assemblies. Moreover, parties in different countries often share strong links by virtue of the fact that they belong to the same political family.

Parliament also enjoys treaty-based information and consultation rights, which allow its members to shape the EU’s external policies. The High Representative is invited regularly to consult Parliament on the main aspects and basic choices of the CFSP and the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). MEPs can also address questions and make recommendations to the Council and the HR/VP. A major innovation in the EP’s powers to shape and control EU foreign policy has been MEPs’ exchanges of views with Heads of EU delegations after their appointment by the HR/VP, but prior to taking up their post in a third country. EU ambassadors inform Members about the country concerned and the EU priorities and objectives to be pursued in relations with the partner country. MEPs may use these opportunities to question the ambassadors, and provide advice and suggestions on the conduct of relations.

Read the complete study on ‘The power of the European Parliament: Examples of EP impact during the 2014-19 legislative term‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/08/28/pushing-for-an-adequate-response-to-online-disinformation-european-parliament-impact-2014-2019/

Democracy support for Ukraine [European Parliament impact 2014-2019]

The power of the European Parliament

The only directly elected European Union (EU) institution; the European Parliament’s (EP) power and influence in pursuit of citizens’ interests have evolved significantly, transforming it into a full-fledged legislative body and forum of discussion and engagement at the heart of representative democracy, whose influence is felt in virtually all areas of EU activity.
What are then the European Parliament’s main powers?

What difference does the Parliament’s work make to how Europeans live their lives? This series highlights some practical examples of EP impact during the 2014-2019 legislative term.

Ukraine is a key example of how the European Parliament has increased its ‘soft’, diplomatic power. As explained below, before and after the Maidan revolution in 2013-2014, which was sparked by the decision by the then President, Viktor Yanukovich, not to sign an Association Agreement with the European Union, the European Parliament has played an increasingly visible role in relation to democracy support. In February 2014, the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament) voted to impeach Yanukovich, who fled Kyiv. The conflict in Ukraine represents a struggle for respect for international law, which Russia violated through its illegal annexation of Crimea in March 2014 and its hybrid war against Ukraine. The European Parliament, whose diplomatic role has steadily expanded, is now leading internal reform and capacity-building efforts for the Verkhovna Rada.

The European Parliament’s evolution to becoming an agenda-setter in Kyiv has also boosted its visibility in Brussels. While initially limited to monitoring the trial against former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, a European Parliament-initiated mission led by former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewksi and former European Parliament President Pat Cox, later expanded its function. Cox and Kwasniewski helped pave the way for the negotiation of the Association Agreement. Thus, the function of the mission evolved from monitoring to mediation; in Cox’s own words, it became a ‘point of exchange between not only Brussels and Kiev, but also between the Ukrainian government and the opposition’.

The simultaneous ratification of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement by the European Parliament and the Verkhovna Rada on 16 September 2014 was a historic demonstration of the commitment of both parties to develop solid inter-parliamentary ties, laying the ground for the continued mutual commitment to democracy support activities. The European Parliament and the Verkhovna Rada signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Kyiv on 3 July 2015 with the stated purpose of establishing a joint framework for parliamentary support and capacity-building of the Verkhovna Rada. In line with the MoU, a Needs Assessment Mission (NAM) led by Pat Cox, was conducted in Ukraine to identify the key needs of the Verkhovna Rada in this respect. The European Parliament’s NAM prepared the ground for the EU/UNDP project ‘Rada for Europe: driving reforms across Ukraine’, with 52 recommendations recognised in the March 2016 Verkhovna Rada resolution 1035-VIII.

Launched within the framework of the European Parliament’s democracy support activities for Ukraine in 2016, the concept of using the Jean Monnet House in Bazoches (France) for mediation and dialogue activities is expanding, as the Parliament is demonstrating the added value of parliamentary mediation as a soft power tool to complement overall EU approaches. Building on the experience with its Jean Monnet Dialogues with Ukraine, the first Jean Monnet Dialogue with the Sobranie of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia took place on 18-19 May 2018 in Ohrid.

The 2018 Sakharov Prize was awarded to Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov – a prominent civil society activist during the Maidan, who was arrested by the Russian Federal Security Service in Crimea in May 2014 and is currently detained in Siberia. The European Parliament thus increased the pressure on Russia to release Sentsov, drawing attention also to other Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia.

Growing soft power – EU foreign policy

a mapping of EP powers

Ever since 1979, Members of the European Parliament have aimed to boost the role of the institution in the EU’s foreign policy. These efforts have continued to increase since the creation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) in 1993. The EP is seen internationally as a ‘capable moral force with strong focus on strengthening human rights, supporting democracy and enhancing the rule of law worldwide’ (P. Bajtay). The Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought is one specific example of this: set up in 1988, it is awarded each year to honour individuals and organisations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The EP’s comprehensive approach to democracy support is also part of this ‘soft-power’ approach to international relations. Launched in 2014, it includes election monitoring, mediation, as well as training of staff and members of non-EU parliaments. In addition to this, Parliament can convey messages in ways and through channels that are different from those employed by the EU’s traditional diplomatic players, for example, through its parliamentary networks.

The European Parliament has become a public forum both for representatives of partner countries and international organisations, as well as influential non-state actors. Parliamentarians pro-actively engage in inter-parliamentary delegations and missions to third countries, and are members of various joint parliamentary assemblies. Moreover, parties in different countries often share strong links by virtue of the fact that they belong to the same political family.

Parliament also enjoys treaty-based information and consultation rights, which allow its members to shape the EU’s external policies. The High Representative is invited regularly to consult Parliament on the main aspects and basic choices of the CFSP and the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). MEPs can also address questions and make recommendations to the Council and the HR/VP. A major innovation in the EP’s powers to shape and control EU foreign policy has been MEPs’ exchanges of views with Heads of EU delegations after their appointment by the HR/VP, but prior to taking up their post in a third country. EU ambassadors inform Members about the country concerned and the EU priorities and objectives to be pursued in relations with the partner country. MEPs may use these opportunities to question the ambassadors, and provide advice and suggestions on the conduct of relations.

Read the complete study on ‘The power of the European Parliament: Examples of EP impact during the 2014-19 legislative term‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/08/26/democracy-support-for-ukraine-european-parliament-impact-2014-2019/

Review and revision of the 2014-2020 multiannual financial framework [European Parliament impact 2014-2019]

The power of the European Parliament

The only directly elected European Union (EU) institution; the European Parliament’s (EP) power and influence in pursuit of citizens’ interests have evolved significantly, transforming it into a full-fledged legislative body and forum of discussion and engagement at the heart of representative democracy, whose influence is felt in virtually all areas of EU activity.
What are then the European Parliament’s main powers?

What difference does the Parliament’s work make to how Europeans live their lives? This series highlights some practical examples of EP impact during the 2014-2019 legislative term.

EP POWERS BudgetEP POWERS Law makingThe 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) was agreed in 2013, during the previous terms of office of the European Parliament and European Commission. Negotiated against a background of economic downturn and fiscal constraints in the Member States, the 2014-2020 MFF was the first to have lower resources than the previous framework (2007-2013). The Parliament, therefore, made its consent to the MFF Regulation conditional on the inclusion of an obligatory mid-term review and revision, so as to enable the new institutions elected in 2014 to assess the implementation of the programmes and adjust the spending priorities to the new challenges. Moreover, the Parliament demanded increased flexibility of the MFF in order to encourage full use of available funds, and improve the EU budget’s ability to react to unforeseen crises and needs. As a result of intensive negotiations, additional provisions making the MFF more flexible were introduced and the compulsory review/revision was stipulated in the legislation. The Parliament gave its consent to the MFF Regulation, but expressed concern that the overall ceilings set by the European Council were low and might not be sufficient to endow the EU with the necessary means to achieve its objectives.

Very early on, the Parliament’s concerns proved to be right. Already in the first two years of the implementation of the 2014-2020 MFF, the need for funding increased dramatically. The EU had to tackle a number of unforeseen challenges, such as the migration and refugee crisis, internal security threats, persistently low level of investment, high youth unemployment, crisis in agriculture, as well as growing pressure on neighbourhood policies and actions in the field of environment policy. In addition, the EU budget had to absorb the abnormal backlog of payments that had built up since 2011. As a consequence, the expenditure ceilings for several headings were pushed to their limits and special ‘last-resort’ flexibility instruments had to be mobilised. The scale of the challenges and their budgetary consequences raised questions about the smooth functioning of the MFF through to 2020.

Given the exceptionally difficult circumstances, the European Parliament was determined to use its power of consent in the legislative procedure and ensure that the opportunity to adjust the MFF, created by the provisions on the mid-term review/revision, was not missed. In an own-inititiave resolution adopted ahead of the Commission’s proposal, the Parliament assessed the first years of functioning of the MFF and concluded that a genuine revision of the 2014-2020 MFF was absolutely indispensable. In particular, Parliament’s requests for the second half of the MFF included the provision of additional resources in key areas of concern, such as competitiveness for growth and jobs, research, internal security and migration; and the strengthening of flexibility provisions and special instruments in order to enable full use of available MFF resources and increase the EU capacity to react to unforeseen challenges.

Subsequently, the Parliament’s assessment of the situation and the changes it demanded were to a large extent reflected in the European Commission’s MFF review and in the subsequent package of legislative and budgetary proposals, including the proposal for the MFF revision. The compromise on the package, reached after the interinstitutional negotiations in early spring 2017, was approved on 5 April 2017. The Council formally adopted the mid-term revision on 20 June 2017.[7]

As a result, a series of changes were introduced to strengthen the capacity of the MFF to react to unforeseen events and to further orient the EU budget towards growth and jobs, and address the migration crisis. The revised MFF increased the resources in the EU priority areas by some €6 billion for the years 2017-2020 without modifying the MFF ceilings. The top-ups would finance the EU actions aimed at job creation and growth (€2.7 billion) and the actions addressing migration, security and external border control (€3.93 billion). The additional resources would stimulate such programmes as Horizon 2020, the Connecting Europe Facility, the Youth Employment Initiative, Erasmus+, the COSME programme for small and medium-sized enterprises, Wifi4EU and the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI).

As emphasised by Jan Olbrycht (EPP, Poland), co-rapporteur for the procedure, the European Parliament ‘rightly advocated a revision of the multiannual financial framework to meet new challenges the European Union is facing.’ According to him, the revised MFF would guarantee a better budgetary system for the remaining years of the framework, more room for manoeuvre to respond to new challenges, and extra resources for some EU programmes. The other co-rapporteur on the file, Isabelle Thomas (S&D, France), also welcomed the revision as a step in the right direction but stressed that ‘it should have gone even further, which we will endeavour to do in the future budget negotiations’, insisting that efforts would be made to go even further in future budget negotiations.

Budgetary powers

a mapping of EP powers

The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union are the two arms of the EU budgetary authority. However, their powers differ in the various pieces of legislation underpinning the EU finances system. The legislative powers of the Parliament with regard to the EU budget vary depending on whether it is acting in the context of the annual budgetary procedure, the decision on the design of the EU own resources system or the establishment of a multiannual financial framework (MFF). The Parliament also has powers of scrutiny of the implementation of the budget and is discharge authority.

For the annual budgetary procedure, the European Parliament acts on an equal footing with the Council. The decision on the design of the own resources system requires the unanimity of the Member States in the Council after obtaining the opinion of the European Parliament. In order to adopt the regulation on the MFF, the Council must obtain the European Parliament’s consent beforehand, while the Parliament gives discharge on the implementation of the annual budget after obtaining the recommendation of the Council. Finally, the European Parliament, together with the Council, and in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, decides about the principles and rules governing the establishment, implementation and control of the EU budget. These are included in a regulation known as the financial regulation applicable to the general budget of the Union.

Read the complete study on ‘The power of the European Parliament: Examples of EP impact during the 2014-19 legislative term‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/08/23/review-and-revision-of-the-2014-2020-multiannual-financial-framework-european-parliament-impact-2014-2019/

An EU budget focused on results [European Parliament impact 2014-2019]

The power of the European Parliament

The only directly elected European Union (EU) institution; the European Parliament’s (EP) power and influence in pursuit of citizens’ interests have evolved significantly, transforming it into a full-fledged legislative body and forum of discussion and engagement at the heart of representative democracy, whose influence is felt in virtually all areas of EU activity.
What are then the European Parliament’s main powers?

What difference does the Parliament’s work make to how Europeans live their lives? This series highlights some practical examples of EP impact during the 2014-2019 legislative term.

EP POWERS BudgetThe principles of sound financial management, regularity and legality of budget implementation have been present in the EU legal and financial system since the earliest days of the European Communities. Considering EU spending in terms of the European added value, performance, results achieved and impact, on the other hand, has become prominent only comparatively recently. A radical turn towards performance-oriented EU finances was triggered by the financial crisis that hit Europe in 2008. In the context of shrinking public finances and austerity measures applied in many EU Member States, increased attention had to be paid to the added value and impact of EU spending. Since then, much has been done to make the EU financial system more performance-oriented, to measure the results and communicate them to the public and the decision-makers.

The European Parliament has been actively promoting these concepts and on many occasions called for a more consistent and coordinated approach to results-based planning, spending, evaluating and reporting. Its engagement in the promotion of European added value and performance-based budgeting has been particularly visible in the works of the Parliament’s Budgetary Control Committee (CONT) and instrumental in the procedure of the annual decision on budgetary discharge.

In the context of the procedure, the European Parliament has often insisted that the implementation of the EU budget should focus on results and achieving broader positive outcomes and that the structure of the EU budget should be modified to provide for measuring progress and performance. The Parliament cooperated with the European Commission and the Court of Auditors to introduce different measures to strengthen the result-based EU budget. Consequently, while maintaining high standards of scrutiny of the regularity and legality of budget implementation, the discharge procedure has clearly shifted towards performance culture, analysing information on budgetary performance and the objectives achieved. This is reflected in a number of discharge-related documents.

The European Parliament’s strong position on the matter has triggered many changes and initiatives. It was at the request of the Parliament that the Interinstitutional Working Group on Performance-Based Budgeting was established in 2015 and launched its work in 2016. The Group was composed of representatives of the institutions involved in the budgetary process (the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council and the European Court of Auditors) and focused on identifying possible improvements in the performance budgeting approach already applied in the EU financial system.

The Parliament supported the European Commission’s initiative ‘Budget Focused on Results’. Introduced in 2015, the initiative forms a set of actions in areas where the Commission is determined to increase the focus on results. It aims at introducing performance budgeting in the EU budget in a more regular and coordinated manner.

The Parliament, along with the European Court of Auditors, called for improved quality of reporting documents produced by the Commission in the budgetary cycle. The changes introduced as a result have helped to develop a comprehensive financial reporting package on performance and results from the Commission to the budgetary authority.

An important opportunity to strengthen the result-based approach to EU spending was the revision of the financial rules applicable to the EU budget, known as the Financial Regulation. The new regulation, approved by the European Parliament and the Council in July 2018, includes a series of measures aimed at focusing the budget more clearly on results, improving the performance framework, enhancing transparency and streamlining reporting.

The Parliament continues to promote principles aimed at sound financial management and performance of the EU budget. In its position on the 2021-2027 MFF, it underlines that increased performance-based budgeting, the focus of future spending on results, based on ambitious and relevant performance targets and a comprehensive and shared definition of European added value, must underpin the next MFF.

Budgetary powers

a mapping of EP powers

The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union are the two arms of the EU budgetary authority. However, their powers differ in the various pieces of legislation underpinning the EU finances system. The legislative powers of the Parliament with regard to the EU budget vary depending on whether it is acting in the context of the annual budgetary procedure, the decision on the design of the EU own resources system or the establishment of a multiannual financial framework (MFF). The Parliament also has powers of scrutiny of the implementation of the budget and is discharge authority.

For the annual budgetary procedure, the European Parliament acts on an equal footing with the Council. The decision on the design of the own resources system requires the unanimity of the Member States in the Council after obtaining the opinion of the European Parliament. In order to adopt the regulation on the MFF, the Council must obtain the European Parliament’s consent beforehand, while the Parliament gives discharge on the implementation of the annual budget after obtaining the recommendation of the Council. Finally, the European Parliament, together with the Council, and in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, decides about the principles and rules governing the establishment, implementation and control of the EU budget. These are included in a regulation known as the financial regulation applicable to the general budget of the Union.

Read the complete study on ‘The power of the European Parliament: Examples of EP impact during the 2014-19 legislative term‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/08/21/an-eu-budget-focused-on-results-european-parliament-impact-2014-2019/

More EU funding to fight unemployment: Youth Employment Initiative [European Parliament impact 2014-2019]

The power of the European Parliament

The only directly elected European Union (EU) institution; the European Parliament’s (EP) power and influence in pursuit of citizens’ interests have evolved significantly, transforming it into a full-fledged legislative body and forum of discussion and engagement at the heart of representative democracy, whose influence is felt in virtually all areas of EU activity.
What are then the European Parliament’s main powers?

What difference does the Parliament’s work make to how Europeans live their lives? This series highlights some practical examples of EP impact during the 2014-2019 legislative term.

EP POWERS BudgetEP POWERS Law makingThe European Parliament has traditionally been very supportive of EU funding for employment-related programmes. On different occasions, it has expressed concerns about the level of unemployment among young people, calling for the European youth strategy and concrete actions, endowed with adequate financial resources. This view was reiterated in its negotiating positions for each annual budget in the current multiannual financial framework (MFF, 2014-2020). Every year since 2014, the fight against youth unemployment has been one of the top budgetary priorities for the European Parliament. This priority was translated each time into concrete actions and expressed in the Parliament’s financial demands for adequate resources for the purpose.

One of the most important examples of this is the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI). Launched in 2014 as part of the agreement on the 2014-2020 MFF, the initiative supports young people living in areas with youth unemployment rates higher than 25 %. It finances the provision of apprenticeships, traineeships, job placements and further education leading to qualifications. Initially planned for the period 2014-2016, its financing was prolonged until 2020.

The Parliament closely followed the implementation and achievements of the initiative. In its position on the 2016 budget, it decided to propose new commitments in 2016 for the continuation of the YEI, whose entire financial envelope was frontloaded in the years 2014-2015. It acknowledged the significant contribution of the YEI to the fight against unemployment and recalled its determination to ensure that the necessary appropriations are made available in order to prevent a funding gap in its implementation. In its resolution on the 2017 budget, it insisted on the need to provide an effective response to youth unemployment across the Union and proposed to increase the YEI by an additional €1 500 million in commitment appropriations to enable its continuation. In the position on the 2018 budget, it decided to reinforce the YEI beyond the level proposed by the Commission. The commitment appropriations totalled €350 million, in line with the Parliament’s reading of the budget and up from the €233.3 million initially proposed by the Commission. Finally, in the negotiations on the EU annual budget for 2019, Parliament stressed that young people are the most at risk of poverty and social and economic exclusion and decided again to reinforce the YEI beyond the level proposed by the Commission. As a result of the Parliament’s efforts, the Commission’s proposed allocation, confirmed in the Council’s position and amounting to €233.3 million, was significantly increased to €580 million.

On the basis of YEI results (around 1.6 million young people included in supported measures by the end of 2016) and in view of the persisting challenges, the mid-term revision of the MFF endowed the YEI with a specific allocation of €1.2 billion (and a corresponding amount from the ESF) for the 2017-2020 period. The continuation of YEI was strongly supported by the Parliament and agreed in the framework of the mid-term revision of the MFF in 2017.

Budgetary powers

a mapping of EP powers

The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union are the two arms of the EU budgetary authority. However, their powers differ in the various pieces of legislation underpinning the EU finances system. The legislative powers of the Parliament with regard to the EU budget vary depending on whether it is acting in the context of the annual budgetary procedure, the decision on the design of the EU own resources system or the establishment of a multiannual financial framework (MFF). The Parliament also has powers of scrutiny of the implementation of the budget and is discharge authority.

For the annual budgetary procedure, the European Parliament acts on an equal footing with the Council. The decision on the design of the own resources system requires the unanimity of the Member States in the Council after obtaining the opinion of the European Parliament. In order to adopt the regulation on the MFF, the Council must obtain the European Parliament’s consent beforehand, while the Parliament gives discharge on the implementation of the annual budget after obtaining the recommendation of the Council. Finally, the European Parliament, together with the Council, and in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, decides about the principles and rules governing the establishment, implementation and control of the EU budget. These are included in a regulation known as the financial regulation applicable to the general budget of the Union.

Read the complete study on ‘The power of the European Parliament: Examples of EP impact during the 2014-19 legislative term‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/08/19/more-eu-funding-to-fight-unemployment-youth-employment-initiative-european-parliament-impact-2014-2019/

Promoting peace and stability in the world: the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP) [European Parliament impact 2014-2019]

The power of the European Parliament

The only directly elected European Union (EU) institution; the European Parliament’s (EP) power and influence in pursuit of citizens’ interests have evolved significantly, transforming it into a full-fledged legislative body and forum of discussion and engagement at the heart of representative democracy, whose influence is felt in virtually all areas of EU activity.
What are then the European Parliament’s main powers?

What difference does the Parliament’s work make to how Europeans live their lives? This series highlights some practical examples of EP impact during the 2014-2019 legislative term.

EP POWERS Law makingDevelopment cooperation has been a cornerstone of the EU’s relations with the outside world, contributing to the objectives of EU external action, alongside foreign, security and trade policies. The European Parliament is at the forefront of steering these efforts, especially through its role as the budgetary authority. The EU also recognises that a country’s security is a prerequisite for development.

Consequently, capacity building – including institution building, security sector reform and human capability development – has become a key element in the support the EU offers to non-EU countries. The European Parliament has insisted, however, that capacity building, especially for the military of non-EU countries, should not come at the expense of development assistance in the traditional sense.

The Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP) was established in 2014 to make funding available for crisis response, conflict prevention, peace-building and crisis preparedness, and to address global and trans-regional threats. Funding for the IcSP comes from the EU budget. In accordance with the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020 (MFF), €2.3 billion was allocated to the IcSP, under Heading IV of the MFF (Global Europe). Under the same Heading IV, €19.6 billion was allocated to the Instrument for Development Cooperation (DCI).

In July 2016, the European Commission presented a proposal for a regulation amending the IcSP, to be endowed with an additional budget of €100 million. The proposal aimed to adapt the IcSP, mainly to strengthen the EU’s role as a security provider, by introducing new funding opportunities for military capacity-building in third countries, in the form of training, infrastructure and equipment. Funding for these new measures was to come from redeployment of funds under Heading IV of the MFF 2014-2020.

The file was assigned to the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET), with an opinion from the Committee on Development (DEVE). The latter insisted in particular that the proposed assistance to build the capacity of military actors in partner countries should not come from funds allocated to development assistance. An amendment to this effect, together with one on monitoring of the use of the instrument and reporting to the European Parliament, was subsequently endorsed by Parliament and successfully defended in trilogue negotiations. As a result, the Council and the Commission agreed not to use appropriations allocated to the DCI to finance the capacity building in support of development and security for development foreseen under Regulation 2017/2306. An interinstitutional declaration to that effect also appears in the annex to Regulation 2017/2306. Another Parliament amendment, concerning monitoring of the use of the instrument and reporting to the European Parliament, was also successfully included in the final act.

The adoption of an instrument providing funding opportunities for military capacity-building in third countries marked an important step for the EU in general, and for the European Parliament in particular, especially given its calls for more efficient and effective EU external action in the context of addressing conflict, and for enhanced capacities in the security sector as a vital contribution to the goal of sustainable development. EU law prohibits the EU budget from being used to provide direct (lethal) military assistance. But the provision of assistance in the form of military capacity-building already marks a first step in the EU’s evolving security policy.

Law-making powers

a mapping of EP powers

Together with the Council, the Parliament participates in the shaping of European laws in what may be seen as a bicameral legislature at EU level. The nature of the Parliament’s involvement depends on the area in question and may mean Parliament being consulted (consultation procedure), giving its consent (consent procedure), or legislating on an equal footing with the Council (the ordinary legislative procedure, or co-decision).

The latter procedure consists of the joint adoption of an act by the European Parliament and the Council on the basis of a proposal by the Commission. Here, both legislators need to agree on an identical text before it becomes law, which may take up to three readings in each of the two institutions. On average, it takes about 22 months for legislators to agree on a legislative file, starting from the Commission proposal until the signature of the final act.

The number of areas in which the Parliament co-legislates has expanded greatly over time and now includes the EU internal market, environment, consumer protection, food safety, regional development, agriculture, transport, energy and many others. Indeed, most legislative acts are now adopted following the ordinary legislative procedure.

Besides the power of consent with regard to legislative acts, the Parliament’s consent is required in many other instances not related to legislative acts in the strict sense. For example, it is needed before any new country joins the EU (Article 49, Treaty on European Union, TEU), but also before any withdrawal treaty can be concluded when a country decides to leave it (Article 50 TEU). The Parliament’s consent is also required before concluding agreements with third countries, for example association agreements, as well as before the Council determines that an EU Member State is breaching – or is about to breach – EU values (Article 7 TEU).

Read the complete study on ‘The power of the European Parliament: Examples of EP impact during the 2014-19 legislative term‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/08/16/promoting-peace-and-stability-in-the-world-the-instrument-contributing-to-stability-and-peace-icsp-european-parliament-impact-2014-2019/

Passenger name records (PNR) for the prevention of terrorist offences and serious crime [European Parliament impact 2014-2019]

The power of the European Parliament

The only directly elected European Union (EU) institution; the European Parliament’s (EP) power and influence in pursuit of citizens’ interests have evolved significantly, transforming it into a full-fledged legislative body and forum of discussion and engagement at the heart of representative democracy, whose influence is felt in virtually all areas of EU activity.
What are then the European Parliament’s main powers?

What difference does the Parliament’s work make to how Europeans live their lives? This series highlights some practical examples of EP impact during the 2014-2019 legislative term.

EP POWERS Law makingIn April 2016, after five years of legislative work and lengthy negotiations, the co-legislators adopted the Directive on the use of passenger name record (PNR) data for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime. The adoption took place on the same day as that of the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Police Directive, as insisted on by the European Parliament in order to ensure that data protection safeguards included in the PNR Directive were in line with the new data protection rules.

‘Passenger name record’ (PNR) is information on passengers collected by air carriers for operational purposes. It can include data related to the identity of a person (name, surname, date of birth, nationality, gender, contact details, etc.) and to their travel (itinerary, date of travel/reservation, number of passengers in the same reservation, payment details), but may also contain more sensitive information such as type of meal ordered on board or medical information.

PNR data is considered a valuable tool for combating terrorism and other forms of serious crime, as it allows law enforcement authorities to conduct analysis in order to identify possible high-risk individuals. However, the processing of PNR data for law enforcement purposes interferes with a number of rights, especially those regarding privacy and data protection, enshrined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, and must thus respect the principle of proportionality, i.e. to ‘genuinely meet objectives of general interest’.

The EU PNR Directive was proposed by the European Commission in 2011, with the aim of establishing EU-wide rules for the use of PNR data for security purposes. Under the Commission proposal, airlines should transfer PNR data of passengers of extra-EU flights to the competent authorities of the Member State in which the flight will land or from which it will depart. Member States should create dedicated ‘Passenger Information Units’ to store and analyse data. In 2013, the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) voted to reject the draft directive, on the basis of privacy and proportionality concerns. However, a few months later, Parliament decided in plenary to refer the file back to committee in order to find a compromise. In 2015, in the context of a growing terrorist threat, the LIBE Committee adopted its second report. The interinstitutional trilogue negotiations were concluded in the same year.

Throughout the legislative process, the European Parliament sought to ensure that the future directive would comply with the proportionality principle and contain strong data protection safeguards. The majority of its proposals were taken on board. The Parliament managed to strike a compromise on the data retention period – data will be stored for a period of six months (instead of two years proposed by the Council) and then up to five years in ‘masked-out’ form.

Several data protection safeguards have been added at the insistence of the Parliament: prohibition to use sensitive data; obligation to appoint a data protection officer in each Passenger Information Unit; obligation to inform passengers about collection of their personal data as well as on their rights; stricter conditions for data transfer to third countries.

The Parliament also insisted on including a stronger review clause: the Commission should review the directive two years after its transposition into national laws and could propose to amend it if appropriate.

Moreover, the Parliament succeeded in ensuring that PNR data would be used only in relation to a fixed list of serious crimes (such as terrorism, drug, weapons or human trafficking, child sexual exploitation, cybercrime, etc.) and that mechanisms are in place for sharing data between Member States and with Europol.

The EU PNR Directive had to be transposed into national laws by 25 May 2018. However, as of December 2018, several Member States still had to notify transposition to the Commission.

Law-making powers

a mapping of EP powers

Together with the Council, the Parliament participates in the shaping of European laws in what may be seen as a bicameral legislature at EU level. The nature of the Parliament’s involvement depends on the area in question and may mean Parliament being consulted (consultation procedure), giving its consent (consent procedure), or legislating on an equal footing with the Council (the ordinary legislative procedure, or co-decision).

The latter procedure consists of the joint adoption of an act by the European Parliament and the Council on the basis of a proposal by the Commission. Here, both legislators need to agree on an identical text before it becomes law, which may take up to three readings in each of the two institutions. On average, it takes about 22 months for legislators to agree on a legislative file, starting from the Commission proposal until the signature of the final act.

The number of areas in which the Parliament co-legislates has expanded greatly over time and now includes the EU internal market, environment, consumer protection, food safety, regional development, agriculture, transport, energy and many others. Indeed, most legislative acts are now adopted following the ordinary legislative procedure.

Besides the power of consent with regard to legislative acts, the Parliament’s consent is required in many other instances not related to legislative acts in the strict sense. For example, it is needed before any new country joins the EU (Article 49, Treaty on European Union, TEU), but also before any withdrawal treaty can be concluded when a country decides to leave it (Article 50 TEU). The Parliament’s consent is also required before concluding agreements with third countries, for example association agreements, as well as before the Council determines that an EU Member State is breaching – or is about to breach – EU values (Article 7 TEU).

Read the complete study on ‘The power of the European Parliament: Examples of EP impact during the 2014-19 legislative term‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/08/14/passenger-name-records-pnr-for-the-prevention-of-terrorist-offences-and-serious-crime-european-parliament-impact-2014-2019/

Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between EU and Canada [European Parliament impact 2014-2019]

The power of the European Parliament

The only directly elected European Union (EU) institution; the European Parliament’s (EP) power and influence in pursuit of citizens’ interests have evolved significantly, transforming it into a full-fledged legislative body and forum of discussion and engagement at the heart of representative democracy, whose influence is felt in virtually all areas of EU activity.
What are then the European Parliament’s main powers?

What difference does the Parliament’s work make to how Europeans live their lives? This series highlights some practical examples of EP impact during the 2014-2019 legislative term.

EP POWERS Law makingThe Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada entered into force on a provisional basis on 21 September 2017, and most of the agreement now applies. The ratification process is still ongoing at the Member State level.

CETA aims to increase trade in goods and services, as well as investment between the EU and Canada. Among other things, it improves EU companies’ public tendering opportunities in Canada, provides a framework for the mutual recognition of qualifications in certain professions in the EU and Canada (for example architects or crane operators) and removes customs duties on 98 % of tariff lines of products traded with Canada, except for certain sensitive agricultural products such as poultry and eggs. Statistics from the first period of provisional application of CETA (October 2017 to June 2018) showed that EU exports to Canada were up by over 7 % compared to the previous year.

The CETA negotiations started in May 2009, shortly before the Treaty of Lisbon extended the European Parliament’s competences in trade to require its approval of trade agreements. CETA became one of the early negotiations where the Parliament exercised its stronger monitoring function, tracking the talks actively and voicing its concerns throughout the process.

In June 2011, the European Parliament adopted a resolution setting out its position on key chapters of the CETA negotiations, including investment disputes, the right to regulate, regulatory differences and agriculture. The Parliament was particularly concerned about the investment protection provisions under CETA. With mounting opposition to the investor-state-dispute-settlement (ISDS) system, the Parliament maintained in its resolution that ‘a state-to-state dispute settlement mechanism and the use of local judicial remedies are the most appropriate tools to address investment disputes’, given the highly developed legal systems on both sides. In its resolution of July 2015, in the context of the negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the European Parliament went a step further and asked for the replacement of the ISDS system with a new system that would be more transparent, with independent judges, and respecting the jurisdiction of EU courts. In a letter to European Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström, in November 2015, Parliament’s International Trade Committee Chair, Bernd Lange (Germany, S&D), welcomed the fact that the Parliament’s concerns were taken on board in the Commission’s new Investment Court System (ICS) proposal, while suggesting some further changes to the system. In part thanks to the European Parliament’s demands, even after the conclusion of the CETA negotiations, the controversial ISDS system was replaced with a permanent, transparent and institutionalised ICS. The Parliament went on to approve CETA in February 2017.

In its resolution of July 2016, the European Parliament also reiterated the need for a multilateral solution to investment disputes and considered CETA’s ICS as a stepping-stone to this end. Today, this process has been taken even further and active negotiations for the establishment of a Multilateral Investment Court (MIC) are ongoing. CETA also contains a commitment of both the EU and Canada to work towards the creation of the MIC.

Law-making powers

a mapping of EP powers

Together with the Council, the Parliament participates in the shaping of European laws in what may be seen as a bicameral legislature at EU level. The nature of the Parliament’s involvement depends on the area in question and may mean Parliament being consulted (consultation procedure), giving its consent (consent procedure), or legislating on an equal footing with the Council (the ordinary legislative procedure, or co-decision).

The latter procedure consists of the joint adoption of an act by the European Parliament and the Council on the basis of a proposal by the Commission. Here, both legislators need to agree on an identical text before it becomes law, which may take up to three readings in each of the two institutions. On average, it takes about 22 months for legislators to agree on a legislative file, starting from the Commission proposal until the signature of the final act.

The number of areas in which the Parliament co-legislates has expanded greatly over time and now includes the EU internal market, environment, consumer protection, food safety, regional development, agriculture, transport, energy and many others. Indeed, most legislative acts are now adopted following the ordinary legislative procedure.

Besides the power of consent with regard to legislative acts, the Parliament’s consent is required in many other instances not related to legislative acts in the strict sense. For example, it is needed before any new country joins the EU (Article 49, Treaty on European Union, TEU), but also before any withdrawal treaty can be concluded when a country decides to leave it (Article 50 TEU). The Parliament’s consent is also required before concluding agreements with third countries, for example association agreements, as well as before the Council determines that an EU Member State is breaching – or is about to breach – EU values (Article 7 TEU).

Read the complete study on ‘The power of the European Parliament: Examples of EP impact during the 2014-19 legislative term‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/08/12/comprehensive-economic-and-trade-agreement-ceta-between-eu-and-canada-european-parliament-impact-2014-2019/

Telecoms reform: a new European Electronic Communications Code [European Parliament impact 2014-2019]

The power of the European Parliament

The only directly elected European Union (EU) institution; the European Parliament’s (EP) power and influence in pursuit of citizens’ interests have evolved significantly, transforming it into a full-fledged legislative body and forum of discussion and engagement at the heart of representative democracy, whose influence is felt in virtually all areas of EU activity.
What are then the European Parliament’s main powers?

What difference does the Parliament’s work make to how Europeans live their lives? This series highlights some practical examples of EP impact during the 2014-2019 legislative term.

EP POWERS Law makingThe last overhaul of EU telecommunications rules took place in 2009, which is a very long time ago in a modern digital world that is increasingly reliant on rapid technological development. Given the urgent need to meaningfully adapt the framework so that European businesses can compete globally and citizens have stronger rights and are better protected in the virtual world, in September 2016 the European Commission proposed the directive establishing the new European Electronic Communications Code (EECC). The aim was to boost the infrastructure investment, increase connectivity and bring telecom rules up to date with technological developments and changing consumer demands and habits. This proposal represented a profound overhaul of the telecom framework. The negotiations between the European Parliament and the Council were complex, with the part on spectrum management agreed in March 2018 and the consensus on the rest reached in June 2018. The directive was formally adopted in December 2018.

The European Parliament was successful in achieving important modifications in key areas of the proposed legislation. The overview of the main ones starts with those regarding investment: Parliament has been a long-standing supporter of coordinated spectrum management at the EU level and its ideas were reflected in the EECC proposal. Before the Code, there was no EU harmonisation, but now the Member States must provide operators with regulatory predictability over a period of at least 20 years on spectrum licensing and will release spectrum bands in a timely and coordinated manner. Parliament strengthened the role of national competition authorities and reinforced competition safeguards in the new co-investment model, which encourages agreements between operators based on risk- and cost-sharing, as well as increased use of civil engineering infrastructure such as towers and wiring.

Important amendments to bring the 5G networks to Europe and improve connectivity include the obligation of the EU Member States to make spectrum available for the 5G by 2020. Small cell deployment will become easier by being subject to uniform national level legislation rather than as presently decided on different government levels. The cells will also be deployed on public infrastructure such as on street lamps and traffic lights.

The European Parliament also secured many advantages for European consumers. From May 2019, contacting another Member State will be much cheaper: intra-EU fees have been capped at 19 cents for phone calls and 6 cents for text messages. All consumers are to have guaranteed access to affordable broadband internet. Stronger protection and specific measures are provided for users with disabilities. Providers are obliged to ensure network security and deploy advanced methods, such as encryption, as well as inform users of significant threats. New measures increase transparency of tariffs and available offers, as well as facilitating their comparison. Switching operators and terminating contracts are made easier and, in the case of the former, there will be compensation if problems arise. The EU Member States are obliged to introduce by June 2022 a ‘reverse 112 system’, based on improved geo-localisation tools, which will alert citizens on their mobile phones in case of imminent or ongoing serious emergencies or disasters.

Law-making powers

a mapping of EP powers

Together with the Council, the Parliament participates in the shaping of European laws in what may be seen as a bicameral legislature at EU level. The nature of the Parliament’s involvement depends on the area in question and may mean Parliament being consulted (consultation procedure), giving its consent (consent procedure), or legislating on an equal footing with the Council (the ordinary legislative procedure, or co-decision).

The latter procedure consists of the joint adoption of an act by the European Parliament and the Council on the basis of a proposal by the Commission. Here, both legislators need to agree on an identical text before it becomes law, which may take up to three readings in each of the two institutions. On average, it takes about 22 months for legislators to agree on a legislative file, starting from the Commission proposal until the signature of the final act.

The number of areas in which the Parliament co-legislates has expanded greatly over time and now includes the EU internal market, environment, consumer protection, food safety, regional development, agriculture, transport, energy and many others. Indeed, most legislative acts are now adopted following the ordinary legislative procedure.

Besides the power of consent with regard to legislative acts, the Parliament’s consent is required in many other instances not related to legislative acts in the strict sense. For example, it is needed before any new country joins the EU (Article 49, Treaty on European Union, TEU), but also before any withdrawal treaty can be concluded when a country decides to leave it (Article 50 TEU). The Parliament’s consent is also required before concluding agreements with third countries, for example association agreements, as well as before the Council determines that an EU Member State is breaching – or is about to breach – EU values (Article 7 TEU).

Read the complete study on ‘The power of the European Parliament: Examples of EP impact during the 2014-19 legislative term‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/08/09/telecoms-reform-a-new-european-electronic-communications-code-european-parliament-impact-2014-2019/

Sustainable finance – EU taxonomy: A framework to facilitate sustainable investment [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Stefano Spinaci (2nd edition),

Businessman presenting a sustainable development concept with office buildings backgrounds

© NicoElNino / Fotolia

In March 2018, under its capital markets union project and as part of a broader initiative on sustainable development, the European Commission presented an action plan on sustainable finance, in order to facilitate investments in sustainable projects and assets across the EU. On 24 May 2018, the Commission put forward a package of three proposals, including measures to create a sustainable taxonomy for the EU; provide clarity on how environmental, social and governance factors can be taken into account for investment decisions; and establish low-carbon benchmarks.

The first proposal focuses on establishing a common language for sustainable finance (e.g. a unified EU classification system, or taxonomy) through a framework of uniform criteria, as a way to determine whether a given economic activity is environmentally sustainable. On 11 March 2019, the ECON-ENVI joint committee adopted a report on the Commission proposal, calling for a number of changes. On 28 March 2019, the Parliament adopted its position at first reading. On the other hand, the Council is continuing to review the Commission’s proposal.

Versions

timeline 10 steps trilogue with second reading

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/08/07/sustainable-finance-eu-taxonomy-a-framework-to-facilitate-sustainable-investment-eu-legislation-in-progress/