Remaining active in spite of the pandemic

This year, the #BeActive campaign, which has accompanied the event since its launch by the European Commission in 2015, is driving its message home with new urgency.
As teleworking, self-isolation and (for a while) closed gyms
became a daily reality, finding new, creative ways to remain
physically active is now essential.

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Long-term vision for rural areas: European Commission communication

Written by James McEldowney.

In June 2021, the European Commission published a communication setting out a long-term vision for the EU’s rural areas. The range of challenges facing such areas is acknowledged. They include issues relating to demographic change, such as the loss of population from remote rural areas, lower levels of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, poor access to services, and issues concerning connectivity. A lower proportion of households in rural regions have access to next generation broadband compared to the EU average. Tertiary education and basic digital skill levels are lower in rural areas and a significant gap exists between male and female employment rates. The share of young people aged 15 to 29 years neither in employment nor in education or training is higher in rural areas.

The response set out in the Commission’s communication includes proposals for a rural pact engaging actors at EU, national, regional and local levels to support the vision and an action plan to support stronger, connected, resilient and prosperous rural areas. A rural observatory will be established to improve data collection and analysis on the situation of rural areas. In support of its proposals, the Commission will put in place a rural proofing mechanism to assess the anticipated impact of major EU legislative initiatives on rural areas.

Offering an initial analysis of the communication and its implications for future policy for rural areas, this briefing examines the challenges and opportunities these areas face. It summarises the views and responses of stakeholders regarding the Commission’s long-term vision and the findings of the public consultation launched by the Commission in September 2020. Evidence is also presented on the levels of trust rural dwellers have in the different levels of governance. The key drivers that will shape rural areas between now and 2040 are identified from the findings of a foresight analysis undertaken by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), which is included in the communication. Lastly, consideration is given to the experience of applying the rural proofing mechanism, including perspectives on its utility and application in practice.

Read the complete briefing on ‘Long-term vision for rural areas: European Commission communication‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

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Citizens’ engagement and expectations of the Conference on the Future of Europe

Written by Silvia Kotanidis.

What sort of European Union do we want to see in the future? What is working well in the EU and what could be improved? These are just two examples of the kind of questions that the European citizens’ panels, part of the Conference on the Future of Europe, will have to answer. The Conference on the Future of Europe marks the first time in the history of the EU that citizens have been included in a consultative process in such a structural and innovative manner. The conference, first announced by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in 2019, is now entering its key phase, with the first European citizens’ panel meeting taking place on 17 September 2021.

The widening gap between citizens and institutions is a known pattern, not only at EU level but also at national level in many countries. Against this backdrop, some forms of participatory democracy – such as citizens’ assemblies – already successful in Ireland and elsewhere in recent years, promise to provide a format that allows an open exchange of views in a collaborative environment.

The citizens’ panels were proposed and designed to give a voice to citizens in the most inclusive way possible. As such, the panels’ key requirement is that they represent the EU population faithfully. The result is that 800 EU citizens, equally distributed into four citizens’ panels, will be called upon to discuss issues and concerns that they may themselves identify. The debate is supported by a multilingual digital platform, the main hub of the conference. The citizens’ panels are not meant to replace representative democracy however, but rather to complement it.

The Conference on the Future of Europe is a complex democratic exercise in which the multilingual digital platform gathers ideas from citizens and civil society, citizens’ panels give recommendations, and the conference plenary makes proposals on the basis of which the executive board of the Conference will draft the final report. The contribution of the citizens’ panels will feed into the proposals of the conference plenary and, ultimately, into the final report of the conference that the executive board will present at the end of the conference for the institutions to follow up.

Read the complete briefing on ‘Citizens’ engagement and expectations of the Conference on the Future of Europe‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

See selection of our material for all CoFoE topics

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Plenary round-up – September 2021

Written by Katarzyna Sochacka and Clare Ferguson.

During the September 2021 plenary session in Strasbourg, Parliament held a number of debates, including on legislative proposals for health and disease prevention, and the Brexit Adjustment Reserve; as well as on natural disasters in Europe; the Pegasus spyware scandal; media freedom; and on further deterioration of the rule of law in Poland. Members debated Commission and Council statements on the July 2021 ‘Fit for 55′ package of legislative proposals, in the light of the latest IPCC report. Council presented its position on the draft general EU budget for 2022, ahead of the Parliament voting its position during the October II session. Parliament also debated statements from the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission, Josep Borell, on the situation in Afghanistan and in Lebanon. A number of other resolutions and legislative acts were adopted, inter alia on: the instrument for pre-accession assistance (IPA III); a new EU-China strategy; fair working conditions, rights and social protection for platform workers; and on guidelines for Member States’ employment policies.

State of the Union

The highlight of this session was European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s State of the Union address – an important moment to take stock of the year’s achievements and present the priorities for the coming 12 months. The coronavirus is still far from conquered, and life – from everyday routines at individual level to global trends affecting the whole world – has entered a phase of profound change. The six political priorities outlined in this Commission’s original mandate have therefore been recalibrated to deliver on promises to tackle climate change, economic challenges, health threats and migration.

Health and disease prevention

Parliament held a joint debate on health and disease prevention. Following the coronavirus pandemic and its effects, efforts continue to strengthen the EU’s response to health threats. These include legislative proposals to boost EU defences against cross-border health threats, and to strengthen the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). Although responsibility for health policy remains with the Member States, the pandemic has highlighted areas where stronger preparedness measures could better protect EU citizens and address cross-border health threats in future. Parliament debated a Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) report that supports increased consideration of all environmental, animal or human factors with an impact on health, as well as promoting cooperation and transparency – which could lead to smoother joint procurement for items such as personal protection equipment, should that be necessary in future. A further ENVI committee report on strengthening the ECDC was also debated. The committee proposes to extend the ECDC’s mandate beyond communicable diseases to cover those that have a wide impact, including cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, cancer, diabetes, and mental illness. Both reports were referred back to the committee, and trilogue negotiations on the two proposals can now begin.

Brexit Adjustment Reserve

Members debated, and later formally adopted, the text agreed following interinstitutional negotiations, on the planned Brexit Adjustment Reserve. Parliament has succeeded in modifying the proposals to ensure support for EU businesses – particularly fisheries and those in close proximity to the United Kingdom – against the additional costs ensuing from the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. A €5 billion budget will be made available over the period to December 2023, with funds distributed using an allocation method taking account of each country’s trade with the UK, its fisheries in UK waters, and the population size in maritime border regions neighbouring the UK. Members also adopted measures to adapt the current year’s EU budget to cover €1.6 billion in pre-financing for the ‘Brexit Adjustment Reserve’, under amending budget No 1/2021.

Blue Card Directive

With an ageing population and an increasing need for skilled workers to sustain economic growth, the EU has to compete with other regions to attract highly qualified immigrants. Members debated and adopted a final text resulting from interinstitutional negotiations on the proposed revision of the EU Blue Card Directive. Parliament has long called for the revision of this legislation, which provides a legal route for migration to the bloc, not least in the face of considerable recent refugee movements. Following Parliament’s vote on the new rules, skilled applicants will be admitted to remain on EU territory for at least two years if they are able to present a minimum six-month work contract or a binding job offer. Admission to the EU Blue Card scheme should also become more inclusive, with reduced salary thresholds.

EU-Russia political relations

While the 1994 EU‑Russia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement remains in force today, relations have deteriorated since 2000. An already strained situation has worsened in the face of aggressive Russian foreign policy in Ukraine and Syria, as well as its repression of domestic dissent. Parliament held a debate on political relations between the EU and Russia, following which Parliament adopted a recommendation to Council, the Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The recommendations drafted by the Foreign Affairs (AFET) Committee call for a revision of the current stance, which combines pushing back with constraint and engagement, and proposes to base future relations on six principles. These include activating deterrence against security and hybrid threats alongside dialogue and engagement that offers incentives, such as trade and visas, in support of Russian democratic transformation.

Gender-based violence as a new area of crime

Members adopted an own-initiative legislative report setting out proposals to add gender-based violence to the list of serious crimes at EU level to enable the adoption of EU legislation in this area. Despite the extent of gender-based violence and the harm it causes, the EU currently has no specific legal instrument to address the issue, and the Member States take different approaches to criminalisation. This means that legal definitions and the level of protection for victims vary across the EU. Adding gender-based violence to the list of particularly serious crimes set out in Article 83(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) would establish a stronger legal basis for the Council and Parliament to adopt a comprehensive directive establishing common legal definitions and common minimum rules for sanctions. Article 83(1) TFEU provides for the list to be extended to new areas of crime that have a ‘cross-border dimension resulting from the nature or impact of the offences or from a special need to combat them on a common basis’.

Opening of trilogue negotiations

Members confirmed three mandates for negotiations: from the Industry Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee on the proposal for a decision on the participation of the Union in the European Partnership on Metrology, jointly undertaken by several Member States, and on the proposal for a regulation on European data governance; as well as from the Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) Committee on the proposal for a regulation on a pilot regime for market infrastructure based on distributed ledger technology.

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

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International Equal Pay Day

Written by Marie Lecerf.

As things stand, the gender pay gap persists globally and in the European Union, and progress in reducing it is slow. The coronavirus pandemic is a further brake on gender equality. To accelerate the realisation of the principle of ‘Equal pay for work of equal value’, the United Nations marked the first International Day for Equal Pay on 18 September 2020. This year, for its second edition, the debate will focus on ensuring that equal pay remains at the centre of the response to the pandemic and recognition of women’s major contribution to economic recovery.

A persisting gender pay gap

The gender pay gap by Member State. Source: Eurostat, Gender pay gap statistics.

The ‘gender pay gap’ is a measurable indicator of inequality between women and men. It generally refers to the average difference between the remuneration of employed women and male workers.

Although the gender pay gap is measured by different methods and indicators, data clearly show that women around the world still earn less when compared to men. According to the Global Wage Report 2018/2019 – What lies behind gender pay gaps, produced by the International Labour Organization (ILO), on average, women earn around 20 % less than men. Despite the increase in women’s educational attainment and participation in the labour market over the years, the gender pay gap remains a persistent and multi-dimensional issue in all countries and across all economic sectors. For women with children, women of colour, migrant women, and women with disabilities, the discrepancy is even larger. In 2019, women’s gross hourly earnings were on average 14.1 % below those of men in the European Union (Eurostat, EU-27). Across Member States, the gender pay gap varied widely, ranging from 1.3 % in Luxembourg to 21.7 % in Estonia.

The coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately affected women in the economic sphere. It is likely to have long-term adverse effects on gender equality. Research already suggests that the gender pay gap will widen because of the pandemic. 

International Equal Pay Day

The United Nations’ commitment

Mainstreaming the gender perspective is key to the implementation of the United Nations (UN) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Since 2015, the ‘Equal pay for work of equal value’ principle has been recognised as one of the priority areas of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs), as mentioned in target 8.5: ‘By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value’.

In 2017, under the leadership of the ILO, the UN entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women (UN Women) and the Gender Initiative of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and together with governments, labour organisations (e.g. ITUC), employers’ organisations (e.g. IOE) and other dedicated agencies, the Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC) was launched for the effective and swift achievement of the principle.

On 15 November 2019, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming 18 September as International Equal Pay Day. The resolution was introduced by the Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC) with the support of Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, Panama, South Africa and Switzerland. The day is intended to promote further action towards the achievement of equal pay for work of equal value.

The first International Equal Pay Day – 18 September 2020

On 18 September 2020, the first International Equal Pay Day, international leaders committed to taking affirmative action to narrow the gender pay gap. EPIC called on participants to put pay equity at the heart of Covid-19 recovery efforts by introducing integrated policy responses aimed at mitigating job and income losses resulting from the pandemic and ensuring that women do not end up disproportionately shouldering these job losses and reductions in incomes.

The 2021 Equal Pay Day

This year’s celebration will focus on the efforts of key labour market actors to ensure that equal pay remains central to pandemic responses worldwide and to fully recognise the contributions of women to coronavirus pandemic economic recovery. The event aims to strengthen commitments to closing the gender pay gap across regions and sectors.

European Union initiatives

Equal pay for equal work is one of the EU’s founding principles, enshrined in Article 157 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. However, the implementation and enforcement of this principle remain a challenge. Since then, there have been initiatives to address the gender pay gap both at EU and Member State levels. Although some reduction of the gender pay gap has been recorded in most EU Member States, the challenge persists.

In her political guidelines, the European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, announced that she would introduce a proposal on binding pay transparency measures in order to address the gender pay gap and ensure application of the principle of equal pay for equal work. The Commission’s legislative proposal was adopted on 4 March 2021. It is one of the key priorities in the EU Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025. The proposed directive to strengthen the application of the principle of equal pay for equal work or work of equal value between men and women through pay transparency and enforcement mechanisms would focus on two aspects of equal pay: measures to ensure pay transparency and better access to justice for victims of pay discrimination.

European Parliament position

Parliament has been calling for stronger measures on pay transparency and equal pay for a number of years. In its resolution of 8 October 2015 on ‘Equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation’, Parliament asked the Commission to draw up a legislative proposal on equal pay, incorporating measures on strengthening pay transparency, together with effective means of enforcement, such as mandatory pay audits for large companies. Parliament’s resolution of 30 January 2020 on the ‘Gender pay gap‘ urged the Commission to ensure that the forthcoming pay transparency legislation applies to both the public and private sectors, promotes the role of the social partners and collective bargaining, and includes strong enforcement policies for those failing to comply. Parliament also asked for the proposal to incorporate a number of concrete measures.

Parliament’s resolution of 21 January 2021 on the new ‘EU Gender Equality Strategy’ stresses that binding measures are necessary to close the gender pay gap.

Read this ‘at a glance’ on ‘International Equal Pay Day‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

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Regulating facial recognition in the EU

Written by Tambiama Madiega and Hendrik Mildebrath.

Artificial intelligence (AI) powers the use of biometric technologies, including facial recognition applications, which are used for verification, identification and categorisation purposes by private or public actors. While facial recognition markets are poised to grow substantially in the coming years, the increasing use of facial recognition technologies (FRTs) has emerged as a salient issue in the worldwide public debate on biometric surveillance.

While there are real benefits to using facial recognition systems for public safety and security, their pervasiveness and intrusiveness, as well as their susceptibility to error, give rise to a number of fundamental rights concerns with regard, for instance, to discrimination against certain segments of the population and violations of the right to data protection and privacy. To address such effects, the EU has already put strict rules in place under the Charter of Fundamental Rights, the General Data Protection Regulation, the Law Enforcement Directive and the EU framework on non-discrimination, which also apply to FRT-related processes and activities. However, various actors question the effectiveness of the current EU framework in adequately addressing the FRT-induced fundamental rights concerns. Even if courts attempted to close gaps in protection through an extensive interpretation of the pre-existing legal framework, legal uncertainties and complexities would remain.

Against this backdrop, the draft EU artificial intelligence (AI) act, unveiled in April 2021, aims to limit the use of biometric identification systems including facial recognition that could lead to ubiquitous surveillance. In addition to the existing applicable legislation (e.g. data protection and non-discrimination), the draft AI act proposes to introduce new rules governing the use of FRTs in the EU and to differentiate them according to their ‘high-risk’ or ‘low-risk’ usage characteristics. A large number of FRTs would be considered ‘high risk’ systems which would be prohibited or need to comply with strict requirements. The use of real-time facial recognition systems in publicly accessible spaces for the purpose of law enforcement would be prohibited, unless Member States choose to authorise them for important public security reasons, and the appropriate judicial or administrative authorisations are granted. A wide range of facial recognition technologies used for purposes other than law enforcement (e.g. border control, market places, public transport and even schools) could be permitted subject to a conformity assessment and compliance with some safety requirements before entering the EU market. Conversely, facial recognition systems used for categorisation purposes would be considered ‘low risk’ systems and only subject to limited transparency and information requirements. While stakeholders, researchers and regulators seem to agree on a need for regulation, some critics question the proposed distinction between low-risk and high-risk biometric systems, and warn that the proposed legislation would enable a system of standardisation and self-regulation without proper public oversight. They call for amendments to the draft text, including with regard to the Member States’ leeway in implementing the new rules. Some strongly support stricter rules – including an outright ban on such technologies.

Looking beyond the EU, there is a global surge in use of facial recognition technologies, whilst concerns about state surveillance are mounting and amplified by the fact that there are, so far, very limited legally binding rules applicable to FRTs even in major jurisdictions such as the United States of America (USA) and China. Policy- and law-makers around the globe have the opportunity to discuss – in a multilateral and possibly in a bilateral context – how to put in place adequate controls on the use of facial recognition systems.

Read the complete in-depth analysis on ‘Regulating facial recognition in the EU‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

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The situation in Afghanistan: Essential benchmarks for EU engagement

Written by Beatrix Immenkamp.

The departure of United States (US) and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) troops from Afghanistan marks the end of a 20-year military campaign that was launched in 2001 to eliminate the Taliban’s ability to provide sanctuary for international terrorists, especially al-Qaeda, and stabilise the country with the help of a democratically elected government. However, as the last US soldier boarded a US military aeroplane on 31 August 2021, terrorists were firing rockets at Kabul airport, members of the democratically elected government, including the president, had either fled abroad or were in hiding, and the Taliban had taken back control of most of Afghanistan. On 7 September 2021, the Taliban announced an all-male caretaker government drawn entirely from the Taliban movement, contrary to earlier promises that the new government would be ‘inclusive’. So far, no country has recognised the interim government. There have been reports of reprisals against security personnel, individuals with links to the previous administration and foreign forces, journalists and minorities, in particular. The rights to education and employment that women have enjoyed for the past 20 years are meanwhile being curtailed.

In the meantime, the humanitarian situation in the country is increasingly desperate. The country relies extensively on foreign aid, most of which is currently suspended, while foreign assets have been frozen. Many Afghans have fled to neighbouring countries, joining the estimated 3-4 million Afghan refugees already living there, mainly in Iran and Pakistan. The EU has expressed concerns over the composition of the interim government, noting that an inclusive and representative government – which the interim government is not – is an essential benchmark for EU engagement. The EU has made available large amounts of humanitarian and development aid and is hoping to establish a diplomatic presence on the ground in Kabul. The EU is also planning to set up a regional platform for cooperation with Afghanistan’s neighbours on issues including population flows from Afghanistan, terrorism, organised crime and drugs.

This Briefing expands and updates an ‘At a glance’ note published on 2 September 2021.

Read the complete briefing on ‘The situation in Afghanistan: Essential benchmarks for EU engagement‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Further reading:

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Recovery plan for Europe: State of play, September 2021

Written by Magdalena Sapała with Nina Thomassen.

Since the beginning of 2021, Member States and EU institutions have been preparing intensively to launch the recovery instrument, Next Generation EU (NGEU). In order to make this unique financial stimulus package fully operational, many conditions have needed to be met and preparatory steps completed.

First, preparations have been ongoing for the spending of the biggest part of NGEU (90 %) under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). This process includes the drawing up of national recovery and resilience plans by the Member States, their evaluation by the European Commission, and approval by the Council of the EU. Up to 15 September 2021, most of the national plans submitted have been positively assessed by the Commission and approved by the Council (18). Based on this, the Commission concluded agreements with those Member States on a legal commitment authorising the financial contribution to be made, and the first transfers of EU aid (pre-financing) were made on 3 August. In the case of some countries, however, the assessment procedure has been delayed.   

In parallel, the system for financing NGEU had to be created almost from scratch. It is based on borrowing operations carried out by the European Commission on behalf of the European Union. These operations could start only once all Member States had ratified the Own Resources Decision (ORD), which was done by the end of May 2021. In the meantime, the Commission was preparing for its role of borrower on an unprecedented scale. At the beginning of the summer, it started implementing its diversified funding strategy for the financing of NGEU. In three issuances successfully conducted so far, the Commission has raised €45 billion in total out of the €80 billion planned for 2021.

This is an update of a Briefing of 7 June 2021.

Read the complete briefing on ‘Recovery plan for Europe: State of play, September 2021‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

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Statistics, Data and Trust: Why figures matter in today’s world

Written by Giulio Sabbati.

Why do figures matter in today’s world? How do we build and maintain trust in data and statistics? In an era which has seen such an explosion of data, should we not talk about data communication rather than dissemination? What does good data mean? How can data influence policy-makers? Are data literacy and ethics related to each other?

These and other topics were raised during the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) roundtable on ‘Statistics, Data and Trust: Why figures matter in today’s world’, held on 8 September 2021.

Vice-President of the European Parliament, Othmar Karas Introduced the event, which was moderated by Etienne Bassot, Director of the Members’ Research Service. The speakers were Mariana Kotzeva, Director General of EUROSTAT, Stefan Schweinfest, Director of the United Nations Statistics Division UNSTATS; Gaby Umbach, Director of GlobalStat and part-time Professor at the European University Institute (EUI); and Giulio Sabbati, Head of the Statistical and Data Visualisation Support Office, EPRS.

The composition of the roundtable could be compared to a statistical family. On one side were the data producers, represented by the UN and Eurostat, and on the other side data users in the shape of Globalstat and the EPRS Data Viz Office. And as a family, the participants all spoke the same language; that of statistics. In his introductory remarks, Mr Karas highlighted the importance of the UN fundamental principles of statistics and the European statistics code of practice. These are the global standards that statisticians need: to understand and to talk each other, and to learn from each other.

All the participants responded to the question in the roundtable’s title: why figures matter in today’s world? Being aware that figures are part of everyday life, as we often need to measure something to take actions, statistics are fundamental for making better informed decisions; official statistics are the foundation of any international information system;  data are essential for collective political action; the use of statistics has become a political power resource, and access to and understanding of data is becoming more and more important.

Historically, statistics started with surveys, then that expanded to public administrative sources and now in today’s world we face an explosion of data. The data ecosystem is much broader now – not only with official and non-official statistics, but also for instance with big data, digital data and geospatial data.

It is true that more data means more information; but it also means attempts at disinformation, raises questions such as over respecting privacy, and also means there is much data which are not good. But what is good data? It could refer to objectivity, accuracy, relevance, transparency or timeliness. Good data are based on scientific solid production processes. Ultimately a good data item is one that is responsibly and effectively used.

Mr Karas insisted in his message on how data and statistics are nothing if we cannot trust them. But how do we gain trust? First of all, using data that come from institutes with the highest international and European principles and standards. Official statistics in the EU and in the world are based on principles. And in the EU they are also based on a legal framework.

As a good product needs a good marketing campaign, so do official statistics. They need communication to build trust. Presenting statistics and data in an understandable and exciting way. Trust comes also with small actions when communicating: data properly ordered; clear labels; consistency in colours; texts to help understand a graph and to explain the data. It is also important to tell the story of where the data come from.

And what about data literacy, the ability to read data, to get data, to understand the meaning, what to do with them? Certainly, ethics plays an important role. It put limits on data use: what cannot be said with data and which questions need to be raised to understand.

What if we started teaching data literacy at school? How could we encourage this type of career path? Perhaps by quoting the article of the New York Times which said that ‘statistician is among the top ten sexy professions’.

The message from the roundtable could perhaps best be summarised with a quote form Hans Rosling, a Swedish doctor and statistician, who used the power of statistics to promote sustainable global development and to fight misinformation and misconceptions.

The world cannot be understood without numbers. And it cannot be understood with numbers alone.

Video recording of the event

Further reading:

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China: Economic indicators and trade with EU

Written by Gyorgyi Macsai (Members’ Research Service) with Igor Tkalec (GlobalStat, EUI).

Graphics: Giulio Sabbati.

The Covid-19 pandemic contributed to the continuous slowdown of China’s economy, from two-digit growth rates witnessed in the past to a ‘new normal’ growth rate of ‘only’ 5.7% on average under the current five-year plan (2016-2020). To what extent does this slowdown affect China’s public finances and other macroeconomic indicators? How has EU trade with China developed during the last decade? How important is the EU for China in terms of trade? And what about China’s trade relevance for the EU? Has the huge trade imbalance in goods trade between China and the EU narrowed in recent years? How intensive is trade in services between the EU and China? What are the EU’s main export items to China? How does China’s export basket look like? You can find the answers to these and other questions in our EPRS publication on China produced in collaboration with the European University Institute’s GlobalStat on the world’s main economies. This is an updated edition of an ‘At a Glance’ note published in December 2019.

Read this infographic on ‘China: Economic indicators and trade with EU‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

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