This database contains the research papers produced by the European Parliament's different research services, in particular studies and notes from policy departments as well as reports, briefing notes and assessments from the Impact Assessment and the European Added Value units and from STOA. These documents aim to support the work of the various parliamentary bodies.
The policy departments deliver a wide range of expertise, comprising studies on complex legislative issues, comparative notes and short background briefings. They serve a variety of purposes: they can feed directly into the legislative work of a specific committee or serve as a briefing for delegations of MEPs. Some of this research is carried out by external experts selected through competitive tendering, i.e. the leading academics or consultants in a specific field.
Directorate G, within the European Parliament's Directorate-General for Internal Policies, provides a broad range of products in the field of impact assessment, as well as completely new services with respect to European Added Value and Cost of non-Europe. EP committees can commission a variety of reports, briefing notes and assessments in these fields to support their work.
STOA contributes to the debate on strategic scientific and technological issues of political relevance and the policy options for tackling them through projects of a medium to long-term, interdisciplinary character, as well as information and dialogue activities, whose outcomes are relevant to Parliament in its role as legislator. Its reports are available in the database.
Summary : Freezing assets is an EU competence; recovering them, on the other hand, is a competence of the Member States. For the EU, recovering the assets of the ousted Tunisian and Egyptian regimes is an issue of political commitment and credibility, with the Union's reputation in Arab Spring countries partly at stake. The United Nations Convention against Corruption (in force since 2005) makes clear that recovering assets is a priority in a coordinated international fight against corruption. There exists a lack of efficient cooperation between 'requesting' and 'requested' states, as well as a paucity of reliable information about the amounts in question. The EU Council has recently adopted a decision to make it easier to share information relating to Egyptian and Tunisian funds in the EU. There are still many procedural problems to tackle, especially in the case of Egypt. An EU special task force could be set up to explore practical ways to better coordinate and exchange best practices between EU Member States and Tunisia and Egypt. The UK is a frontrunner in establishing a central structure facilitating the legal proceedings to recover assets. The European Parliament can send a clear signal of the EU's political commitment to helping Tunisia and Egypt recover their assets.
Authors : Andreas KETTIS and Pekka HAKALA (EP, DG EXPO, Policy Department)
Committees : Foreign affairs
Summary : In recent years, the United States’ natural gas industry has undergone a significant transformation, dubbed a 'revolution': extraction rates have soared thanks to new technologies. The shale gas boom is having an unprecedented affect on the US energy market, and this, in turn, has important implications for the rest of the world, notably the Middle East and Russia. While the shale gas 'revolution' has spurred a debate on environmental consequences and sustainability within the US, other countries — including countries as diverse as Canada and China — have, in different ways, aimed to replicate the US boom. In the EU, a shale gas 'revolution' appears relatively unlikely, at least for the moment, given Europe’s less favourable geological conditions and its wary public. Nevertheless, some EU Member States rich in shale gas, such as Poland and the United Kingdom, are actively promoting shale gas exploration activities to diversify their energy mix, reduce energy dependency and enhance energy security. Other countries, such as France and Bulgaria, have for the moment chosen to privilege environmental constraints and have implemented bans. The remaining Member States seem to have adopted a 'wait-and-see' attitude. For all these states, however, the EU has an important role to play in ensuring a balanced common approach and encouraging the sustainable development of this industry while ensuring an adequate environmental protection. A recent Commission green paper on shale gas is a good initial step, although this should be followed with concrete action.
Authors : Jacopo BELLELLI supervised by Wanda TROSZCZYNSKA-VAN GENDEREN (Policy Department, Directorate-General for External Policies of the Union, European Parliament)
Committees : Foreign affairs
Summary : The study analyses the role of economically dependent self-employed workers in the labour market by taking institutional factors into account, such as labour law and social protection rights. In addition to setting out the reasons for the increase of dependent self-employed workers, the authors provide case studies across various sectors of selected EU Member States. While the phenomenon of dependent self-employment is highly diverse across EU Member States, it has become increasingly important and can be regarded as part of a general trend towards increasing labour market flexibilisation.
Authors : Eichhorst, Werner (IZA, coordinator), Braga, Michela (Fondazione DeBenedetti), Famira-Mühlberger, Ulrike (WIFO), Gerard, Maarten (IDEA Consult), Horvath, Thomas (WIFO), Kahanec, Martin (CELSI), Kahancová, Marta (CELSI), Kendzia, Michael (IZA), Martišková, Monika (CELSI), Monti, Paola (Fondazione DeBenedetti), Pedersen, Jakob Louis (NIRAS), Stanley, Julian (University of Warwick), Vandeweghe, Barbara (IDEA Consult), Wehner, Caroline (IZA) and White, Caroline (University of Warwick)
Committees : Employment and social affairs
Summary : This note seeks to provide an initial analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the European Commission's Impact Assessment (IA) accompanying the proposals for a Regulation on consumer product safety and for a Regulation on market surveillance for products, the ‘Product safety and market surveillance package’, submitted by the Commission on 13 February 2013. The problem in need of EU intervention is described generally as ‘the existence of unsafe and non-compliant products circulating in the internal market, indicating a failure in the functioning of the legislative framework within which the internal market operates’. This note, prepared by the Impact Assessment Unit for the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO), analyses whether the principal criteria laid down in the Commission’s own Impact Assessment Guidelines, as well as additional factors identified by the Parliament in its Impact Assessment Handbook, appear to be met by the IA. It does not attempt to deal with the substance of the proposal. It is drafted for informational and background purposes to assist the relevant parliamentary committee(s) and Members more widely in their work.
Authors : Elke Ballon
Committees : Impact Assessment, Internal market and consumer protection
Summary : With the launch of the Eastern Partnership in 2009, the EU stepped up its involvement in Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus. The offer of a closer relationship with Eastern neighbours is contingent upon partner countries converging with EU norms and standards. Effective regulatory approximation in the economic field is therefore critical to anchoring the reform process in partner countries and to fostering further progress in EU’s relations with its Eastern neighbours. Against this backdrop, this briefing paper reviews the achievements to date in regulatory approximation in the economic field in Eastern Partnership countries. Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (DCFTAs) are a vital trade instrument for building up long-term economic relationships with eastern neighbours. They are likely to have a far-reaching influence on the reform process in partner countries. However, legal approximation and implementation of approximated legislation remain key challenges. The briefing highlights five major problems hindering legal approximation in the economic field: the complexity of the acquis to be adopted; institutional coordination; implementation capacities; costs of approximation and political sensitivity in partner countries. The briefing offers recommendations to improve the EU’s approach so that DCFTAs could fulfill their potential.
Authors : Laure DELCOUR (IRIS) and Kataryna WOLCZUK (Centre for Russian and East European Studies, University of Birmingham)
Committees : Foreign affairs
Summary : In recent years, the use of drones and other unmanned robots in warfare and other situations of violence has increased exponentially, and States continue to invest significantly into increasing the operational autonomy of such systems. The present study provides an overview of the current and likely future use of such systems and examines the relevant legal implications under human rights law, international humanitarian law and the UN Charter. The study concludes that the present sense of uncertainty as to the applicable legal standards, the rapid development and proliferation of drone and robotic technology, and the perceived lack of transparency and accountability of current policies have the potential of polarizing the international community, undermining the rule of law and, ultimately, of destabilizing the international security environment as a whole. Accordingly, the study develops the following policy recommendations for European foreign policy: 1. First, the EU should make the promotion of the rule of law in relation to the development, proliferation and use of unmanned weapons systems a declared priority of European foreign policy. 2. In parallel, the EU should launch a broad inter-governmental policy dialogue aiming to achieve international consensus: (a) on the legal standards governing the use of currently operational unmanned weapon systems, and (b) on the legal constraints and/or ethical reservations which may apply with regard to the future development, proliferation and use of increasingly autonomous weapon systems. 3. Based on the resulting international consensus, the EU should work towards the adoption of a binding international agreement, or a non-binding code of conduct, aiming to restrict the development, proliferation or use of certain unmanned weapon systems in line with the legal consensus achieved.
Authors : Nils MELZER (Geneva Centre for Security Policy - GCSP and Swiss Chair of International Humanitarian Law, Geneva Academy - ADH)
Committees : Human rights
Summary : This study provides an overview of the employment situation of young and old workers in the EU Member States, setting out the most recent developments during the crisis and dealing with policies implemented to promote the employment of both groups. The evidence collected shows that there is no competition between young and older workers on the labour market. Structural or general policies to enhance the functioning of EU labour markets are crucial to improving the situation of both groups. However, the responsibility for employment policies still predominantly lies within Member States of the European Union, although initiatives taken at the EU level can provide added value, particularly through stimulating the exchange of experiences and facilitating regional and cross-border mobility throughout the EU.
Authors : Eichhorst Werner (IZA), Boeri Tito (frdb), Braga Michela (fdb), De Coen An (IDEA Consult), Galasso Vicenzo (frdb), Gerard Maarten (IDEA Consult), Kendzia Michael (IZA), Mayrhuber Christine (WIFO), Pedersen Jakob Louis (NIRAS), Schmidl Ricarda (IZA) and Steiber Nadia (WIFO)
Committees : Employment and social affairs
Summary : The study analyses the strengths and weaknesses of current EU engagement in fragile states, and in particular its support to conflict prevention and periods of transition, within the broader international context. It examines the limitations of the instruments and methods implemented by the EU to address the problems of fragile states and identifies what could be done to improve them. Key weaknesses of the EU’s programmes in fragile and conflict-affected states include insufficient analysis of the root causes of fragility, ineffective early warning systems, and insufficient coordination with other international actors engaged in fragile and conflictaffected states. These challenges are not dissimilar to those experienced by other international actors. However, the EU’s performance is exacerbated by a number of factors that are specific to its organisational and resourcing arrangements. These include the internal fragmentation of policy responsibility at headquarter level, inadequate translation of policy into programming at country level and insufficient instrumental coherence. Investing in expertise in fragility and conflict-prevention has not, to date, been a priority, particularly at the operational level. The study’s main recommendation is the finalisation of the Action Plan on security, fragility and development, to mutually reinforce the EU’s objectives in development cooperation, humanitarian assistance, peacebuilding, conflict prevention and international security and to clarify the roles and responsibilities of the various institutions responsible for fragility and conflict at a policy and operational level. The study also recommends convening a high-level coordination group on fragility at headquarter level to agree policies and monitor progress and devolving decision-making on integrated programming and flexible resource utilisation in fragile and conflict-affected states to Heads of Delegation.
Authors : GAVAS Mikaela (OVERSEAS DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTE, the UK), DAVIES Fiona (OVERSEAS DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTE, the UK), MCKECHNIE Alastair (OVERSEAS DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTE, the UK), BROWN Oli (CHATHAM HOUSE, the UK) and ELIZE Hefer (OVERSEAS DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTE, the UK), Coordination provided by Ecologic Institute
Committees : Development
Summary : Remotely piloted vehicles or aircraft are not an invention of the late 20th or early 21st century. Adding weapons to UAVs was proposed as early as the late 1940s, although these armed UAVs only came into use decades later. Remotely-piloted systems are also used in science, agriculture, environmental protection, goods transport and border security. New opportunities, such the use of RPAS for regulating air traffic, reveal the challenges in cyber security, privacy protection, national and public security, and structural changes. Shifting demands, new UAV market entrants and increasing competition in the global market will challenge traditional (combat) aircraft industry structures. Innovation requires political and societal debate. Innovation in defence requires even more of this debate. Drones do not alter what the military does. Debate, organised at the European level, could develop a set of rules regarding the use of RPAS.
Authors : Ulrich KAROCK (EP, DG EXPO, Policy Department EXPO)
Committees : Security and defence
Summary : Under the terms of the 1993 Oslo peace accords, over 60 % of the occupied Palestinian territory in the West Bank remains under full Israeli military and administrative control. Here, in what is known as 'Area C', Israel restricts Palestinians' access to land and resources by instituting systemic segregation, forcibly evicting and displacing Palestinian residents, demolishing civilian property and expanding Israeli settlements. Israeli law applies in the area, and Israeli control is gradually reinforced. Amounting to de facto annexation, the Israeli's government's measures are in clear violation of international law. The situation is undermining hopes for a two-state solution, effectively creating a single-state with only isolated 'islands' ('Area A') under Palestinian rule. The situation has recently grown more dire, as the most committed proponents of Area C's unilateral annexation have entered Israel’s new government coalition. Although Israel’s encroachment into Area C has long been condemned by the European Union, efforts to improve the situation are continually undermined. Nothing of substance has been accomplished to implement the minimal recommendations set out by the EU's 2011 report on Area C. While the EU has expressed its concern about the state of affairs, decisive effective action is long overdue.
Authors : Nasser ISHAQ and Pekka HAKALA (European Parliament, Directorate-General for External Policies of the Union, Policy Department)
Committees : Foreign affairs