1326

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How blockchain technology could change our lives

20-02-2017

Blockchain technology is of increasing interest to citizens, businesses and legislators across the European Union. This report is aimed at providing a point of entry for those curious about blockchain technology, so as to stimulate interest and provoke discussion around its potential impact. A general introduction is followed by a closer look at eight areas in which blockchain has been described as having a substantial potential impact. For each of these, an explanation is given of how the technology ...

Blockchain technology is of increasing interest to citizens, businesses and legislators across the European Union. This report is aimed at providing a point of entry for those curious about blockchain technology, so as to stimulate interest and provoke discussion around its potential impact. A general introduction is followed by a closer look at eight areas in which blockchain has been described as having a substantial potential impact. For each of these, an explanation is given of how the technology could be developed in that particular area, the possible impacts this development might have, and what potential policy issues are to be anticipated.

Freshwater protection: EU policy and the status of freshwater systems

15-02-2017

Freshwater ecosystems are particularly rich in biodiversity and fulfil important ecosystem services. However, the continuing presence of pollutants still raises concerns for public health, as well as for nature conservation. Surface water bodies and groundwater alike are threatened by synthetic and also naturally occurring substances that can have a negative impact on the aquatic environment and on human health. Increased temperature and over-abstraction of water are further causes for concern. Meanwhile ...

Freshwater ecosystems are particularly rich in biodiversity and fulfil important ecosystem services. However, the continuing presence of pollutants still raises concerns for public health, as well as for nature conservation. Surface water bodies and groundwater alike are threatened by synthetic and also naturally occurring substances that can have a negative impact on the aquatic environment and on human health. Increased temperature and over-abstraction of water are further causes for concern. Meanwhile, heavy modifications to the natural flow and physical changes to water bodies can also cause serious disturbances to water ecosystems. With the Water Framework Directive (WFD), the EU adopted comprehensive legislation for the protection of water within the EU. Under the directive, Member States are required to achieve good status in all bodies of surface water and groundwater by 2015, or 2027 at the latest. Unfortunately, despite considerable improvements in water quality, this goal was not achieved by the end of 2015 as hoped.

CETA and public services

10-02-2017

EU-Canada negotiations for a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) began in May 2009 and concluded in September 2014. Signed in October 2016, the agreement's overall aim is to increase flows of goods, services and investment. This publication analyses the extent to which public services are protected in CETA. The trade agreement takes the public sector into account by means of a (general) public sector carve-out and specific reservations introduced by the EU and the Member States in the ...

EU-Canada negotiations for a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) began in May 2009 and concluded in September 2014. Signed in October 2016, the agreement's overall aim is to increase flows of goods, services and investment. This publication analyses the extent to which public services are protected in CETA. The trade agreement takes the public sector into account by means of a (general) public sector carve-out and specific reservations introduced by the EU and the Member States in the annexes to the agreement. These reservations apply specifically to health services, education services, social services, and environmental, energy and transport services. National reservations introduced by the EU Member States to complement EU-wide reservations vary greatly. To a large extent this is the result of the widely varying levels of liberalisation of certain services among Member States, leading some of them to see a greater need to protect particular sectors from foreign competition than others.

Counter-terrorism Cooperation with the Southern Neighbourhood

02-02-2017

Since the EU adopted its Counter-Terrorism Strategy in 2005, it has focused on forging closer ties with third countries in the fight against terrorism. Cooperation with the Southern Neighbourhood in this field is particularly important. Every single country within this region is affected by terrorism to different degrees and terrorist attacks on European soil are increasingly linked with the Middle East and North Africa. The EU adopted a wide-ranging counter-terrorism approach in the South including ...

Since the EU adopted its Counter-Terrorism Strategy in 2005, it has focused on forging closer ties with third countries in the fight against terrorism. Cooperation with the Southern Neighbourhood in this field is particularly important. Every single country within this region is affected by terrorism to different degrees and terrorist attacks on European soil are increasingly linked with the Middle East and North Africa. The EU adopted a wide-ranging counter-terrorism approach in the South including actions that go beyond the strictly military and security interpretations of counter-terrorism. In line with the UN’s 4-pillar approach, the EU’s counter-terrorism measures can be broadly subdivided into four fields: (i) building state capacity (particularly in the areas of border control, criminal investigation and prosecution, and countering the financing of terrorism); (ii) strengthening the rule of law and respect for human rights; (iii) fostering regional cooperation; and (iv) preventing and combating terrorism. This study outlines and contextualises current counter-terrorism activities in the region.

External author

Florence GAUB, Annelies PAUWELS

Russia’s National Security Strategy and Military Doctrine and their Implications for the EU

01-02-2017

The European Union sees its relationship with Russia as a ‘key strategic challenge’. Its members are alarmed by Russia’s violations of international commitments and increased military activity in Europe. Russian recently updated basic strategic documents are full of indications about Moscow’s world vision and security concerns. They indirectly point to a tension between Russia’s internal (economic, demographic, societal) weaknesses and its claim to be recognized as one of the ‘centers of influence ...

The European Union sees its relationship with Russia as a ‘key strategic challenge’. Its members are alarmed by Russia’s violations of international commitments and increased military activity in Europe. Russian recently updated basic strategic documents are full of indications about Moscow’s world vision and security concerns. They indirectly point to a tension between Russia’s internal (economic, demographic, societal) weaknesses and its claim to be recognized as one of the ‘centers of influence’ in the emerging multipolar world order. The West, including the EU, is clearly perceived as the major challenger to both Russia’s great power ambition and security. At the same time, various indicators suggest that Moscow is probably not fully confident that it will obtain a gratifying role in the emerging new international landscape. All this has led Russia to rely massively on its restored military capabilities, while pursuing a very active diplomacy, in which the relative importance of the EU has declined in recent years. The EU nonetheless has an important role to play in promoting the second engine of the ‘double-track Russia strategy’ that the West (the EU, NATO, the United States) has been pursuing –– strengthening defenses on the one hand, pursuing dialogue and cooperative engagement on the other hand.

External author

Isabelle FACON (Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique - FRS, Paris, France)

Reforming e-Communications Services: a Critical Assessment

31-01-2017

This report analyses the proposed reform of the e-communications regulatory framework presented by the European Commission in September 2016. While many of the proposed changes appear meaningful, the report argues that overall the proposal does not entirely reflect the lessons learned from the past two decades of e-communications regulation in Europe, and ends up being at once too conservative (i.e. incremental with respect to legacy rules); fragile, since its effectiveness crucially depends on governance ...

This report analyses the proposed reform of the e-communications regulatory framework presented by the European Commission in September 2016. While many of the proposed changes appear meaningful, the report argues that overall the proposal does not entirely reflect the lessons learned from the past two decades of e-communications regulation in Europe, and ends up being at once too conservative (i.e. incremental with respect to legacy rules); fragile, since its effectiveness crucially depends on governance reform; and “retro”, since it does not incorporate principles of flexible, adaptive regulation in its overarching framework. The report argues that the merits of a lighter, ex post approach to e-communications were not sufficiently gauged by the European Commission in its impact assessment. The report was prepared at the request of Policy Department A and the IMCO Committee.

External author

Andrea Renda

European space policy: Historical perspective, specific aspects and key challenges

30-01-2017

Space has been a cooperative endeavour in Europe for over 50 years. The first collaborative structures between the Member States in the 1960s led to the establishment of the European Space Agency (ESA) in 1975. The European Union began to be involved in the field in the 1990s, especially through the design of EU space programmes – Galileo for satellite navigation and Copernicus for earth observation – implemented in cooperation with ESA. European space policy is defined and implemented by the EU, ...

Space has been a cooperative endeavour in Europe for over 50 years. The first collaborative structures between the Member States in the 1960s led to the establishment of the European Space Agency (ESA) in 1975. The European Union began to be involved in the field in the 1990s, especially through the design of EU space programmes – Galileo for satellite navigation and Copernicus for earth observation – implemented in cooperation with ESA. European space policy is defined and implemented by the EU, ESA and their member states. This diversity offers some flexibility, but also creates fragmentation, leading to inefficiency in areas such as the implementation of EU programmes or the development of international relations. New developments, including the role of private actors in the field and the growing importance of security and defence aspects also challenge current European space policy governance.

Ten issues to watch in 2017

26-01-2017

This is the first edition of a new EPRS publication designed to identify key issues and policy areas that are likely to feature prominently on the agenda of Members of the European Parliament over the coming year. Key issues presented include: the implications for the EU of the new US administration, the withdrawal of the UK from the EU, the migration crisis, rising inequalities, and the EU's external security challenges, with a more specific examination of the situation in Ukraine. Other important ...

This is the first edition of a new EPRS publication designed to identify key issues and policy areas that are likely to feature prominently on the agenda of Members of the European Parliament over the coming year. Key issues presented include: the implications for the EU of the new US administration, the withdrawal of the UK from the EU, the migration crisis, rising inequalities, and the EU's external security challenges, with a more specific examination of the situation in Ukraine. Other important policy areas covered are the budget, agriculture, climate and transport and, last but not least, the outlook for economic and monetary union.

The EU's General Food Law Regulation: An introduction to the founding principles and the fitness check

25-01-2017

The General Food Law Regulation (Regulation (EC) No 178/2002) was drafted following a series of food incidents in the EU in the late 1990s, including the BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) outbreak and the dioxin scare. It is the act underpinning current EU food and feed legislation and defines its general principles, requirements and aims. The regulation also established the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), an independent agency tasked with providing decision makers with scientific advice ...

The General Food Law Regulation (Regulation (EC) No 178/2002) was drafted following a series of food incidents in the EU in the late 1990s, including the BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) outbreak and the dioxin scare. It is the act underpinning current EU food and feed legislation and defines its general principles, requirements and aims. The regulation also established the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), an independent agency tasked with providing decision makers with scientific advice on food safety issues. Furthermore, the General Food Law Regulation lays down the main procedures for the management of emergencies and crises, including the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF), designed to enable a swift reaction when risks to public health are detected in the food chain. As part of its Better Regulation agenda, the European Commission is currently finalising its fitness check of the General Food Law Regulation. The review will assess the key components of this founding act. The results of the review are expected in the course of 2017.

Thematic Overview: Member States whose 2017 Draft Budgetary Plans Were Assessed To Be "At Risk of Non-Compliance" with the Stability and Growth Pact

24-01-2017

This briefing gives an overview of the recent European Commission (COM) assessments of eight Member States (Spain, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, Cyprus, Lithuania, Slovenia and Finland) whose 2017 Draft Budgetary Plans (DBPs) are considered to be “at risk of non-compliance” with their current obligations under the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP). This briefing will be updated as further assessments by the COM become available regarding compliance with the SGP.

This briefing gives an overview of the recent European Commission (COM) assessments of eight Member States (Spain, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, Cyprus, Lithuania, Slovenia and Finland) whose 2017 Draft Budgetary Plans (DBPs) are considered to be “at risk of non-compliance” with their current obligations under the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP). This briefing will be updated as further assessments by the COM become available regarding compliance with the SGP.

Upcoming events

27-02-2017
The state and development of the biomass of fish stocks managed by the CFP
Hearing -
PECH
28-02-2017
The Third Reform of the Common European Asylum System - Up for the Challenge
Other event -
LIBE
28-02-2017
Workshop on the consequences of Brexit
Workshop -
IMCO

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