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What if policy anticipated advances in science and technology?

26-06-2019

What if blockchain revolutionised voting? What if your emotions were tracked to spy on you? And what if we genetically engineered an entire species? Science and policy are intricately connected. Via monthly 'What if' publications, the Scientific Foresight Unit (STOA; part of the European Parliamentary Research Service) draws Members of the European Parliament's attention to new scientific and technological developments relevant for policy-making. The unit also provides administrative support to the ...

What if blockchain revolutionised voting? What if your emotions were tracked to spy on you? And what if we genetically engineered an entire species? Science and policy are intricately connected. Via monthly 'What if' publications, the Scientific Foresight Unit (STOA; part of the European Parliamentary Research Service) draws Members of the European Parliament's attention to new scientific and technological developments relevant for policy-making. The unit also provides administrative support to the Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA), which brings together 25 Members from nine different parliamentary committees who share a strong interest in science and technology in the context of policy-making.

Living in the EU: Education and Health

30-04-2019

The European Union complements national health and education policies, in particular those with a cross-border dimension. The main responsibility for health and education, however, lies with the governments of its Member States. This combination explains the spread in government expenditure on national welfare policies among the Member States, and in particular in individual direct payments for health. In terms of the gender gap in the area, women with tertiary education still suffer employment gaps ...

The European Union complements national health and education policies, in particular those with a cross-border dimension. The main responsibility for health and education, however, lies with the governments of its Member States. This combination explains the spread in government expenditure on national welfare policies among the Member States, and in particular in individual direct payments for health. In terms of the gender gap in the area, women with tertiary education still suffer employment gaps. Moreover, national differences in the number of hospital beds available and people suffering from obesity, mainly concentrated among elderly people, also stand out.

Endocrine disruptors: An overview of latest developments at European level in the context of plant protection products

25-04-2019

Endocrine disruptors (EDs) are chemical substances present in many products of daily life, which interact with the hormonal system and can disrupt its proper functioning. There is a growing interest in understanding EDs and progress has been made on both the scientific and regulatory side, but the topic remains of high concern at decision-making and societal levels because of the challenges it still poses. This paper provides a desk-research based overview of the key moments of the (scientific and ...

Endocrine disruptors (EDs) are chemical substances present in many products of daily life, which interact with the hormonal system and can disrupt its proper functioning. There is a growing interest in understanding EDs and progress has been made on both the scientific and regulatory side, but the topic remains of high concern at decision-making and societal levels because of the challenges it still poses. This paper provides a desk-research based overview of the key moments of the (scientific and regulatory) debate on EDs, with a focus on the latest developments at European level, namely Commission Regulation (EU) 2018/605 and the 2018 Commission communication ‘Towards a comprehensive European Union framework on endocrine disruptors’, in the particular context of plant protection products (PPPs).

Boosting cooperation on health technology assessment

15-04-2019

The European Commission has proposed a regulation on health technology assessment (HTA). HTA is a research-based tool that supports decision-making in healthcare by assessing the added value of a given health technology compared to others. The proposal would provide the basis for permanent EU-level cooperation in four areas. Member States would still be responsible for assessing the non-clinical (economic, ethical, social, etc.) aspects of health technology, and for pricing and reimbursement. While ...

The European Commission has proposed a regulation on health technology assessment (HTA). HTA is a research-based tool that supports decision-making in healthcare by assessing the added value of a given health technology compared to others. The proposal would provide the basis for permanent EU-level cooperation in four areas. Member States would still be responsible for assessing the non-clinical (economic, ethical, social, etc.) aspects of health technology, and for pricing and reimbursement. While Member States could choose to delay participation in the joint work until three years after the rules enter into force, it would become mandatory after six years. Stakeholders have broadly welcomed the proposal. National parliaments, however, are divided in their appreciation of it. The Council has not yet agreed its position; technical discussions continue. Parliament's Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety adopted its report on 13 September 2018, and the report was voted in plenary on 3 October. However, with interinstitutional trilogue negotiations unable to start, on the Council side, Parliament adopted its final position at first reading on 14 February 2019.

What if we could fight drug addiction with digital technology?

12-04-2019

What if digital technology could assist drug addiction recovery by online counselling, monitoring behaviour, and real-time interventions in patients’ everyday lives? Assistance at a distance: how could clinicians, health personnel, friends and family support a patient suffering from drug addiction via digital technology?

What if digital technology could assist drug addiction recovery by online counselling, monitoring behaviour, and real-time interventions in patients’ everyday lives? Assistance at a distance: how could clinicians, health personnel, friends and family support a patient suffering from drug addiction via digital technology?

Plenary round-up – Strasbourg, March II 2019

29-03-2019

Highlights of the March II plenary session included debates on the conclusions of the 21-22 March 2019 European Council meeting and on recent developments on the Dieselgate scandal. Parliament also debated the situation in Algeria and the illegal occupation of Crimea by the Russian Federation. Important debates also took place on various legislative proposals, including on interoperability between EU information systems. Members voted on a number of legislative proposals (see below), such as discontinuing ...

Highlights of the March II plenary session included debates on the conclusions of the 21-22 March 2019 European Council meeting and on recent developments on the Dieselgate scandal. Parliament also debated the situation in Algeria and the illegal occupation of Crimea by the Russian Federation. Important debates also took place on various legislative proposals, including on interoperability between EU information systems. Members voted on a number of legislative proposals (see below), such as discontinuing seasonal changes of time. Parliament also voted on the report on the TAX3 committee’s findings and on 53 reports on the 2017 discharge procedure. Finally, Parliament adopted first-reading positions on nine further proposed funding programmes for the 2021-2027 period.

What if a simple DNA test could predict your future?

22-03-2019

What if new-born babies were given a DNA report card that predicted their intelligence, their odds of getting a PhD, their chances of becoming a chain smoker or suffering depression, a heart attack or cancer? Thanks to ongoing genetic studies, a large amount of genetic data is available today involving millions of people. The wealth of information available to researchers allows them to create a polygenic risk score based on the DNA test of a person. This can be used to predict a person's chances ...

What if new-born babies were given a DNA report card that predicted their intelligence, their odds of getting a PhD, their chances of becoming a chain smoker or suffering depression, a heart attack or cancer? Thanks to ongoing genetic studies, a large amount of genetic data is available today involving millions of people. The wealth of information available to researchers allows them to create a polygenic risk score based on the DNA test of a person. This can be used to predict a person's chances of getting a disease, his or her traits and behaviour, and many other things about their future. Are these predictions flawless? Who would benefit from them? What are their implications for a person's life in general?

Protecting workers against carcinogens and mutagens: Third proposal

20-03-2019

The European Commission is undertaking a phased process to amend Directive 2004/37/EC (the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive), expanding its scope and including and/or revising occupational exposure limit values for a number of cancer- or mutation-causing chemical agents. The third proposal to amend the directive addresses a further five agents. The agreement on the proposal reached after trilogue negotiations now needs to be confirmed by Parliament, with a vote expected to take place during the ...

The European Commission is undertaking a phased process to amend Directive 2004/37/EC (the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive), expanding its scope and including and/or revising occupational exposure limit values for a number of cancer- or mutation-causing chemical agents. The third proposal to amend the directive addresses a further five agents. The agreement on the proposal reached after trilogue negotiations now needs to be confirmed by Parliament, with a vote expected to take place during the March II plenary session.

Mobile phones and health: Where do we stand?

20-03-2019

Mobile phones are an integral part of everyday life, and it is hard to imagine a world without them. There are nevertheless health concerns, and the debate is ongoing. There is a vast body of research on the potential risks from exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields such as those emitted by mobile phones. Yet scientific opinion remains split over the possibility of a link between mobile phone radiation and health problems. The results of research in this area have been interpreted in ...

Mobile phones are an integral part of everyday life, and it is hard to imagine a world without them. There are nevertheless health concerns, and the debate is ongoing. There is a vast body of research on the potential risks from exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields such as those emitted by mobile phones. Yet scientific opinion remains split over the possibility of a link between mobile phone radiation and health problems. The results of research in this area have been interpreted in a variety of ways, and studies have been criticised for their methodological flaws, lack of statistical significance, and bias. In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a branch of the World Health Organization, classified radiofrequency electromagnet fields as possibly carcinogenic (cancer-causing) to humans. The European Union defined basic restrictions for limiting exposure to electromagnetic fields in Council Recommendation 1999/519/EC, setting maximum values that should not to be exceeded. Moreover, in view of the scientific uncertainty, the European Environment Agency advises taking a precautionary approach. Two sets of large-scale experimental studies involving laboratory animals, one from the United States National Toxicology Program and another from the Italian Ramazzini Institute, have recently brought the debate to the fore again. Both found varying levels of evidence of certain tumours in some of the animals tested. The results have nevertheless prompted diverging conclusions.

Limits on exposure to carcinogens and mutagens at work: Second proposal

15-03-2019

The European Commission has proposed to amend Directive 2004/37/EC, by expanding its scope and by including and/or revising occupational exposure limit values for a number of cancer- or mutation-causing chemical agents. The initiative is proceeding in steps. The first proposal, submitted in May 2016, covered 13 priority chemical agents. The current (second) proposal addresses a further seven agents. Broad discussions with scientists and the social partners fed into both proposals. On the whole, trade ...

The European Commission has proposed to amend Directive 2004/37/EC, by expanding its scope and by including and/or revising occupational exposure limit values for a number of cancer- or mutation-causing chemical agents. The initiative is proceeding in steps. The first proposal, submitted in May 2016, covered 13 priority chemical agents. The current (second) proposal addresses a further seven agents. Broad discussions with scientists and the social partners fed into both proposals. On the whole, trade unions and employers welcomed the current proposal. Trilogue agreement was reached on 11 October 2018. As proposed by the European Parliament, diesel engine exhaust emissions were included in the scope of the directive. After completion of the legislative procedure, the final act was signed by the presidents of the co-legislators on 16 January 2019. Directive (EU) 2019/130 entered into force on 20 February 2019 and is to be transposed into national laws within two years, by 20 February 2021 at the latest. Third edition. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

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