ThinkTank logo The documents that help shape new EU legislation
Posted on 30-03-2017

Risk-preparedness in the electricity sector

30-03-2017

On 30 November 2016, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a regulation on risk-preparedness in the electricity sector. This proposal addresses shortcomings in the existing legislation, notably a lack of regional coordination, and differing national rules and procedures. It would replace the existing legislation, and establish common rules on crisis prevention and crisis management in the electricity sector. Regional interdependencies would be taken into account in the preparation of national ...

On 30 November 2016, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a regulation on risk-preparedness in the electricity sector. This proposal addresses shortcomings in the existing legislation, notably a lack of regional coordination, and differing national rules and procedures. It would replace the existing legislation, and establish common rules on crisis prevention and crisis management in the electricity sector. Regional interdependencies would be taken into account in the preparation of national risk-preparedness plans and in managing crisis situations. The proposed regulation would enhance transparency by requiring an ex-post evaluation of crisis situations. In the European Parliament, the proposal has been referred to the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE), which has appointed its rapporteur.

Syrian crisis: Impact on Lebanon

30-03-2017

The crisis in Syria has had a significant impact on neighbouring countries over the past six years. Five million Syrians have fled to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt, putting host countries and communities under great pressure. Moreover, violence has spilled over into some neighbouring countries, including Lebanon. The impact of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon has been immense. Since the outbreak of the crisis in 2011, up to 1.5 million displaced persons are believed to have crossed the border ...

The crisis in Syria has had a significant impact on neighbouring countries over the past six years. Five million Syrians have fled to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt, putting host countries and communities under great pressure. Moreover, violence has spilled over into some neighbouring countries, including Lebanon. The impact of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon has been immense. Since the outbreak of the crisis in 2011, up to 1.5 million displaced persons are believed to have crossed the border into Lebanon, formerly home to around 4.5 million people. The population has grown by an unprecedented 30 % in under four years, making Lebanon the country with the highest per capita concentration of refugees worldwide. The situation in neighbouring Syria has exacerbated Lebanon's political instability, and led to political deadlock for the past three years. This, in turn, has made it impossible to tackle some urgent challenges arising from the refugee presence, and from underlying structural problems with the delivery of basic services to the Lebanese population. Moreover, there are concerns, particularly among Christians, Shias and Druze, that a large number of Syrian Sunni Muslims could upset the delicate sectarian balance in Lebanon's multi-confessional political system. In light of Lebanon's experience with up to 280 000 Palestine refugees, its population is united in its opposition to a lasting refugee presence in the country. The Lebanese government insists that the presence of refugees from Syria is 'temporary', despite the absence of reasonable prospects for their safe return to their homeland in the foreseeable future. The international community has stepped in to help countries in the region cope with the influx of large numbers of vulnerable people. Emphasis has shifted from traditional humanitarian aid to 'resilience building'. This implies creating the long-term conditions that will allow Syrians to build a future for themselves and their children in the region, including acquiring the skills and tools to re-build their own country once they are able to return. The EU is co-hosting an international conference on 'Supporting the future of Syria and the region' on 5 April 2017, which will assess where the international community stands collectively in helping the region cope with the crisis.

How Congress and President shape US foreign policy

30-03-2017

The United States Constitution regulates the conduct of American foreign policy through a system of checks and balances. The Constitution provides both Congress and the President, as the legislative and executive branches respectively, with the legal authority to shape relations with foreign nations. It recognises that only the federal government is authorised to conduct foreign policy; that federal courts are competent in cases arising under treaties; and declares treaties the supreme law of the ...

The United States Constitution regulates the conduct of American foreign policy through a system of checks and balances. The Constitution provides both Congress and the President, as the legislative and executive branches respectively, with the legal authority to shape relations with foreign nations. It recognises that only the federal government is authorised to conduct foreign policy; that federal courts are competent in cases arising under treaties; and declares treaties the supreme law of the land. The Constitution also lists the powers of Congress, including the 'power of the purse' (namely the ability to tax and spend public money on behalf of the federal government), the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, the power to declare war and the authority to raise and support the army and navy. At the same time, the President is the Commander-in-Chief of the United States (US) army and navy and, although Congressional action is required to declare war, it is generally agreed that the President has the authority to respond to attacks against the US and to lead the armed forces. While the President’s powers are substantial, they are not without limits, due to the role played by the legislative branch. In light of the discussion of the foreign policy options of the new administration under President Donald Trump, this briefing specifically explores the powers conferred to conclude international agreements, to regulate commerce with foreign nations, to use military force and to declare war. It also explains how Congress performs its oversight – or ‘watchdog’ – functions with regard to foreign policy, the tools at its disposal, and the role of committees in the process.

“Fines for misconduct in the banking sector – what is the situation in the EU?”

29-03-2017

This note consolidates the summaries of three external briefing papers on “conduct risk” in the banking sector that were commissioned by the ECON committee and drafted by the members of the expert panel on banking supervision. This external briefings form part of the scrutiny of the Banking Union.

This note consolidates the summaries of three external briefing papers on “conduct risk” in the banking sector that were commissioned by the ECON committee and drafted by the members of the expert panel on banking supervision. This external briefings form part of the scrutiny of the Banking Union.

Posted on 29-03-2017

Multiannual plan for small pelagic fish stocks in the Adriatic Sea

29-03-2017

The European Commission tabled, on 24 February 2017, a proposal for a regulation establishing a multiannual plan to manage fisheries of small pelagic fish stocks (anchovy and sardine) in the Adriatic Sea. These stocks, which are in a poor state, are exploited mainly by Italian and Croatian fishing vessels. The European Parliament (EP) will now begin to examine this proposal. Multiannual fisheries management plans are essential tools for the sustainable exploitation of marine resources, offering notably ...

The European Commission tabled, on 24 February 2017, a proposal for a regulation establishing a multiannual plan to manage fisheries of small pelagic fish stocks (anchovy and sardine) in the Adriatic Sea. These stocks, which are in a poor state, are exploited mainly by Italian and Croatian fishing vessels. The European Parliament (EP) will now begin to examine this proposal. Multiannual fisheries management plans are essential tools for the sustainable exploitation of marine resources, offering notably better predictability over time on fishing mortality levels to be used by the Council when deciding on annual fishing possibilities. They also set a framework for improved cooperation between the Member States concerned at sea regional level. The first multiannual plan after the last reform of the common fisheries policy in 2013, supposed to serve as a prototype and which covers some stocks in the Baltic sea, was adopted by the European Parliament and the Council in July 2016. Another plan proposal, concerning North Sea stocks, is currently under discussion in the EP. This new plan for small pelagic stocks would, in addition, represent a major shift in fisheries management in the Adriatic Sea, by framing a system of setting allowable catches in this part of the Mediterranean and making it endure over time. Please note this document has been designed for on-line viewing.

Posted on 28-03-2017

Common procedure for asylum

28-03-2017

As one of five key acts of the common European asylum system (CEAS), the Asylum Procedures Directive sets out common procedures for Member States for granting and withdrawing international protection in accordance with the Qualification Directive. Following the large influx of asylum-seekers to the European Union since 2014, the directive came under criticism for being too complex and leaving Member States too broad a discretion, leading to differences in length of procedures and procedural guarantees ...

As one of five key acts of the common European asylum system (CEAS), the Asylum Procedures Directive sets out common procedures for Member States for granting and withdrawing international protection in accordance with the Qualification Directive. Following the large influx of asylum-seekers to the European Union since 2014, the directive came under criticism for being too complex and leaving Member States too broad a discretion, leading to differences in length of procedures and procedural guarantees, for example through the use of accelerated procedures and safe country lists. As part of the reform of the CEAS, on 13 July 2016, the Commission published a proposal to replace the current directive with a regulation establishing a common procedure for international protection in all Member States. The choice of a directly applicable regulation is expected to bring about full harmonisation of the procedures, ensuring same steps, timeframes and safeguards across the EU. Second edition. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Outermost regions of the EU: Towards a renewed strategy

28-03-2017

The EU's outermost regions qualify for special treatment owing to structural difficulties, such as remoteness, difficult topography or economic dependence on a few products, which can severely hamper their development. Specific mechanisms exist under cohesion, agricultural and fisheries policies, with the Commission publishing a communication in 2012 setting out how it can work in partnership with the outermost regions and their respective countries to achieve the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy ...

The EU's outermost regions qualify for special treatment owing to structural difficulties, such as remoteness, difficult topography or economic dependence on a few products, which can severely hamper their development. Specific mechanisms exist under cohesion, agricultural and fisheries policies, with the Commission publishing a communication in 2012 setting out how it can work in partnership with the outermost regions and their respective countries to achieve the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy. While a renewed strategy is due to be prepared by the Commission by the end of 2017, the outermost regions continue to face numerous challenges in areas such as mobility, unemployment and climate change. Stakeholders have already begun to draft their contributions to this renewed strategy, highlighting issues such as the need to ensure that trade agreements take better account of outermost regions' needs, maintain specific provisions for these regions in areas such as cohesion, agriculture and fisheries policy, and provide the outermost regions with improved access to horizontal programmes. Parliament's Committee on Regional Development is preparing an own-initiative report on the outermost regions as part of this process. It remains to be seen, however, how receptive the Commission will be to these proposals in a context of increasing budgetary pressure. Bringing together representatives of the Commission and the outermost regions, as well as some of the key stakeholders involved, the fourth forum on outermost regions to be held on 30-31 March 2017 will provide a key platform for discussions that can shape the future development of the outermost regions for generations to come.

Posted on 24-03-2017

EU certification of aviation security screening equipment

24-03-2017

On 7 September 2016, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a regulation establishing a certification system for aviation security screening equipment. The proposal seeks 'to contribute to the proper functioning of the EU internal market and to increase the global competitiveness of the EU industry by establishing an EU certification system for aviation security equipment'. This system would be based on EU type-approval and issuance of a certificate of conformity by manufacturers, which would ...

On 7 September 2016, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a regulation establishing a certification system for aviation security screening equipment. The proposal seeks 'to contribute to the proper functioning of the EU internal market and to increase the global competitiveness of the EU industry by establishing an EU certification system for aviation security equipment'. This system would be based on EU type-approval and issuance of a certificate of conformity by manufacturers, which would be valid in all Member States, according to the principle of mutual recognition. The proposal falls under different policy frameworks: the 2012 Commission communication entitled 'Security Industrial Policy Action Plan for an innovative and competitive Security Industry', the European agenda on security adopted by the Commission in April 2015, and the communication 'Delivering the European Agenda on Security to fight against terrorism and pave the way towards an effective and genuine Security Union', adopted in April 2016. Please note this document has been designed for on-line viewing.

Turkey and the EU [What Think Tanks are thinking]

24-03-2017

Relations between Turkey and the European Union have been strained for some time, and most recently, Ankara became embroiled in a diplomatic spat with Germany and the Netherlands, following decisions in both countries to prevent Turkish ministers from addressing rallies of expatriate Turks. On 16 April, the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, will hold a referendum to expand presidential powers. Mr Erdogan has said that Turkey, an EU candidate country, may review its relations with the Union ...

Relations between Turkey and the European Union have been strained for some time, and most recently, Ankara became embroiled in a diplomatic spat with Germany and the Netherlands, following decisions in both countries to prevent Turkish ministers from addressing rallies of expatriate Turks. On 16 April, the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, will hold a referendum to expand presidential powers. Mr Erdogan has said that Turkey, an EU candidate country, may review its relations with the Union after the coming vote. Government officials have also threatened to ditch last year's agreement between the EU and Turkey that has helped to stem the flow of migrants into Europe. In November, 2016, the European Parliament passed a resolution, calling for Turkey's EU entry talks to be suspended until Ankara ended its 'disproportionate' and repressive response to a failed coup in July that year. This note offers links to a series of recent studies and comments from major international think tanks and research institutes on Turkey and its relations with the EU.

The EU as a community of law: Overview of the role of law in the Union

24-03-2017

The term 'community of law' was popularised by Walter Hallstein in the 1960s. It emphasises that the Community, and now the European Union, is founded on the 'rule of law' principle, and underscores the role of law in the European project, which has been described by political scientists precisely as 'integration through law'. Modern definitions of the 'rule of law' include such elements as the limitation of the powers of public officials by the law, the fact that laws are public, general and apply ...

The term 'community of law' was popularised by Walter Hallstein in the 1960s. It emphasises that the Community, and now the European Union, is founded on the 'rule of law' principle, and underscores the role of law in the European project, which has been described by political scientists precisely as 'integration through law'. Modern definitions of the 'rule of law' include such elements as the limitation of the powers of public officials by the law, the fact that laws are public, general and apply equally, and finally the presence of an independent, impartial and neutral judiciary. The building blocks of the EU as a community of law have been laid, from the 1950s onwards, in the case law of the Court of Justice. The ECJ's case law proclaiming numerous general principles of Community law was inspired by the common legal traditions of the Member States. Over time, many such principles became enshrined in the written sources of EU law, notably the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Treaties. The 'life cycle' of EU law – including its creation, application, interpretation and enforcement – involves various institutional actors. Key roles in the creation of EU law are played by the Commission, Parliament and Council, while the application of EU law on a day-to-day basis is predominantly the task of national courts. Supreme authority to interpret EU law, and to review the compatibility of legislation with the treaties is vested in the ECJ. Individuals – natural and legal persons – enjoy the status of subjects of EU law, and can seek judicial enforcement of their rights based on EU law before national courts. In certain situations they can also seek legal protection directly from the EU courts – the General Court and the Court of Justice.

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