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EU policies – Delivering for citizens: Environmental protection

28-06-2019

Through its environmental policy, the European Union (EU) has been improving Europeans' well-being since 1972. Today, the aim of EU environmental policy is to ensure that by 2050 we are living well, within the limits of the planet. To reach this goal, the EU is striving to move towards a low-carbon, resource-efficient economy, to safeguard biodiversity and to protect human health through legislation on air quality, chemicals, climate, nature, waste and water. Although this policy is delivering concrete ...

Through its environmental policy, the European Union (EU) has been improving Europeans' well-being since 1972. Today, the aim of EU environmental policy is to ensure that by 2050 we are living well, within the limits of the planet. To reach this goal, the EU is striving to move towards a low-carbon, resource-efficient economy, to safeguard biodiversity and to protect human health through legislation on air quality, chemicals, climate, nature, waste and water. Although this policy is delivering concrete benefits (such as a wide network of Natura 2000 protected areas, lower greenhouse gas emissions, increased resource recycling, and cleaner air and water), the outlook for the European environment 20 years from now shows a bleaker picture. Yet transitioning to sustainability could deliver a number of benefits beyond environmental protection, from jobs and economic activity to well-being and health. In a recent poll conducted for the European Parliament, three quarters of EU citizens expressed support for increased EU action on environmental protection. Since 2014, efforts have been made in a number of areas, including waste management (for example new recycling targets, restrictions on plastic carrier bags, action on plastics, measures to tackle marine litter); climate (for example the 2030 greenhouse gas emission targets, and measures to decarbonise the transport sector); nature (primarily to improve the way EU rules on biodiversity protection are implemented); and air quality (new rules on maximum amounts of five key air pollutants that EU countries can emit into the atmosphere). The European Parliament has advocated ambitious policies in many of these areas. In the future, EU environment and climate spending is expected to rise. The Commission is proposing to boost the share of EU spending contributing to climate objectives from 20 % to 25 %, while Parliament has called for this share to be set at 30 %. In the coming years, policies are expected to focus on climate action, nature protection, air quality, the circular economy and pesticides. This is an update of an earlier briefing issued in advance of the 2019 European elections.

EU policies – Delivering for citizens: Human Rights

28-06-2019

In the 70 years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – the first international document to set common standards of achievement for all states – the pivotal role and moral, legal and political significance of human rights in the international arena have become indisputable. However, despite considerable progress in many areas on recognition, codification and implementation, human rights have also come under increased attack. Whether in theatres of war or in the political ...

In the 70 years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – the first international document to set common standards of achievement for all states – the pivotal role and moral, legal and political significance of human rights in the international arena have become indisputable. However, despite considerable progress in many areas on recognition, codification and implementation, human rights have also come under increased attack. Whether in theatres of war or in the political arena, human rights are now often rejected on ideological grounds. The EU itself has not been spared by the current backlash. In its Member States, a populist wave has empowered some political forces that increasingly question the significance of core human rights, such as the right to freedom of expression. In these troubled times for human rights, opinion polls show that European citizens perceive human rights as one of the most important values for them personally and one of the values that best represent the EU itself. Having emerged from World War II and its atrocities, European countries were determined to secure lasting peace, and the Union they created is founded on respect for democracy, the rule of law and human rights, which guide and shape its legislation and policies. Within the EU, recent action has included new legislation on data protection and access to justice, the European Pillar of Social Rights, and initiatives to combat inequality, discrimination and hate speech. There is also an acknowledgement that more needs to be done to complete the legal framework to combat discrimination and strengthen internal mechanisms for upholding the rule of law. Human rights are additionally a general objective of EU external action. The EU is deeply committed to promoting human rights, as enshrined in international treaties, in its relations with third countries and with other multilateral regional and global institutions. During Parliament's last mandate, the EU consistently applied and deepened a range of policy approaches that strengthen its role and image as a normative power that inspires others through its example. Maintaining and consolidating this policy remains vital for preserving the EU's image and credibility as a normative power based on values, and one that has the capacity to act at a time when the principle of multilateralism is increasingly questioned. This is an update of an earlier briefing issued in advance of the 2019 European elections.

European Maritime and Fisheries Fund 2021-2027

22-05-2019

The European Commission has proposed a new regulation on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) as part of the next EU budget framework for the 2021-2027 period. The European Parliament established its first-reading position on the proposal on 4 April 2019. The new fund will continue to support the EU common fisheries policy and the Union's maritime policy. The proposal aims to simplify the delivery of the fund compared to the very complex legal framework in use for the current EMFF. It ...

The European Commission has proposed a new regulation on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) as part of the next EU budget framework for the 2021-2027 period. The European Parliament established its first-reading position on the proposal on 4 April 2019. The new fund will continue to support the EU common fisheries policy and the Union's maritime policy. The proposal aims to simplify the delivery of the fund compared to the very complex legal framework in use for the current EMFF. It therefore presents a more flexible architecture: this would allow Member States to use the funds where they see the greatest need, instead of being bound to a list of pre-defined measures and eligibility rules. Small-scale coastal fisheries and outermost regions would receive greater preferential treatment. It further proposes increased support for international ocean governance and stronger synergies with other EU policies. The fund is also expected to contribute to the development of the blue economy and support the EU's climate objectives. Negotiations with the Council on the proposal are expected to start in the new term. Third edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Connecting Europe Facility 2021-2027: Financing key EU infrastructure networks

08-04-2019

The EU supports the development of high-performing, sustainable and interconnected trans-European networks in the areas of transport, energy and digital infrastructure. The trans-European networks policy was consolidated in 2013, and the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) set up as a dedicated financing instrument to channel EU funding into the development of infrastructure networks, help eliminate market failures and attract further investment from the public and private sectors. Following a mid-term ...

The EU supports the development of high-performing, sustainable and interconnected trans-European networks in the areas of transport, energy and digital infrastructure. The trans-European networks policy was consolidated in 2013, and the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) set up as a dedicated financing instrument to channel EU funding into the development of infrastructure networks, help eliminate market failures and attract further investment from the public and private sectors. Following a mid-term evaluation, which confirmed the CEF programme's capacity to bring significant EU added value, the European Commission proposed to renew the programme under the next long term EU budget. The Transport Council of 3 December 2018 agreed a partial general approach on the proposal, excluding financial and horizontal issues, which are still under discussion as part of the EU budget for 2021-2027. The European Parliament adopted its negotiating position on 12 December 2018. Interinstitutional negotiations (trilogues) concluded on 8 March with a partial provisional agreement on the architecture of the future programme. Having been endorsed by Coreper and jointly by the Parliament's TRAN and ITRE committees, the agreement is due to be voted at first reading by Parliament in April. The remaining issues will have to be agreed at second reading. Third edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

A new neighbourhood, development and international cooperation instrument: Proposal for a new regulation

19-03-2019

In the context of the Commission's proposal for a multiannual financial framework (MFF) for the 2021-2027 period, the Commission published a proposal for a regulation establishing the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) on 14 June 2018, with a proposed budget of €89.2 billion (in current prices). The AFET and DEVE committees adopted their joint report on the proposal on 4 March 2019. MEPs have agreed to accept a single instrument, but call for a stronger role ...

In the context of the Commission's proposal for a multiannual financial framework (MFF) for the 2021-2027 period, the Commission published a proposal for a regulation establishing the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) on 14 June 2018, with a proposed budget of €89.2 billion (in current prices). The AFET and DEVE committees adopted their joint report on the proposal on 4 March 2019. MEPs have agreed to accept a single instrument, but call for a stronger role for Parliament on secondary policy choices, through delegated acts. The committees want the budget for the instrument to be increased by nearly €4 billion, to €93.154 billion. MEPs also specifically call for an increase in the funds allocated to human rights and democracy activities, the percentage of funding that fulfils the criteria for official development assistance, and funds that support climate and environmental objectives. Moreover, MEPs are calling for the introduction of climate and gender mainstreaming targets, the earmarking of certain financial allocations, the suspension of assistance in case of human rights violations, and the reduction of the emerging challenges and priorities cushion to €7 billion. Parliament is expected to vote on its first-reading position during the March II plenary session. Third edition. The 'Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

A new association of the Overseas Countries and Territories (including Greenland) with the European Union

20-02-2019

On 14 June 2018, in preparation for the new multiannual financial framework (2021 to 2027 MFF), the European Commission published a proposal for a Council decision on the Association of the Overseas Countries and Territories, including Greenland, with the European Union. For Greenland the main source of EU funding is currently the EU budget, while for the other overseas countries and territories, it is the European Development Fund, a financial instrument outside the EU budget. The proposed decision ...

On 14 June 2018, in preparation for the new multiannual financial framework (2021 to 2027 MFF), the European Commission published a proposal for a Council decision on the Association of the Overseas Countries and Territories, including Greenland, with the European Union. For Greenland the main source of EU funding is currently the EU budget, while for the other overseas countries and territories, it is the European Development Fund, a financial instrument outside the EU budget. The proposed decision would bring together the funds for all EU overseas countries and territories under the EU budget, as part of new Heading 6 'Neighbourhood and the world'. The European Parliament, which is only consulted, has adopted its legislative resolution on the proposal, in which it calls for an increase of the proposed budget for 2021-2027, and for better account to be taken of OCTs’ social and environmental circumstances.

European Maritime and Fisheries Fund 2021-2027

21-01-2019

The 2021-2027 European Maritime and Fisheries Fund is the major financial tool supporting the EU common fisheries policy (CFP). The new EMFF is focused “on evolution rather than radical changes” - and is supposed to be simpler and more flexible for the stakeholders involved. The notes on quality, research and analysis of the impact assessment concluded that the range of options, the scope and analysis of impacts, and the stakeholder consultation seem to be not always in line with the Better Regulation ...

The 2021-2027 European Maritime and Fisheries Fund is the major financial tool supporting the EU common fisheries policy (CFP). The new EMFF is focused “on evolution rather than radical changes” - and is supposed to be simpler and more flexible for the stakeholders involved. The notes on quality, research and analysis of the impact assessment concluded that the range of options, the scope and analysis of impacts, and the stakeholder consultation seem to be not always in line with the Better Regulation Guidelines for financial programmes.

Promoting renewable energy sources in the EU after 2020

15-01-2019

In November 2016, the European Commission launched the Clean Energy package, including a recast of the Directive on the promotion of renewable energy sources (‘RES Directive’), with the objective of greatly increasing the share of RES in final energy consumption by 2030. The revised RES Directive aims to provide guiding principles on financial support schemes for RES, renewable energy self-consumption, energy communities and district heating. It seeks to enhance mechanisms for cross-border cooperation ...

In November 2016, the European Commission launched the Clean Energy package, including a recast of the Directive on the promotion of renewable energy sources (‘RES Directive’), with the objective of greatly increasing the share of RES in final energy consumption by 2030. The revised RES Directive aims to provide guiding principles on financial support schemes for RES, renewable energy self-consumption, energy communities and district heating. It seeks to enhance mechanisms for cross-border cooperation, simplify administrative processes, strengthen the sustainability and greenhouse gas emissions-savings criteria for biofuels, and mainstream the use of RES in the transport sector and in the heating and cooling sector. Trilogue negotiations started in February 2018 and resulted in a provisional agreement on 14 June 2018. The final text was formally adopted by Parliament (13 November 2018) and Council (4 December 2018), published in the Official Journal on 21 December 2018 and entered into force three days later. Fifth edition. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure. Please note this document has been designed for on-line viewing.

Child labour: A priority for EU human rights action

15-01-2019

Despite a comprehensive normative international framework that prohibits child labour, it persists in many areas of the world, particularly in developing countries. In sub-Saharan-Africa, it has even increased in recent years. More efforts are therefore needed to combat child labour. However, not all work performed by children is harmful to their health and development. The first task is therefore to distinguish child labour – which entails harmful forms of work – from other forms of children's involvement ...

Despite a comprehensive normative international framework that prohibits child labour, it persists in many areas of the world, particularly in developing countries. In sub-Saharan-Africa, it has even increased in recent years. More efforts are therefore needed to combat child labour. However, not all work performed by children is harmful to their health and development. The first task is therefore to distinguish child labour – which entails harmful forms of work – from other forms of children's involvement with work that are acceptable and have an educational component. While international conventions provide a broad definition of child labour, they leave the task of defining more precise criteria, such as the acceptable number of working hours per week or what constitutes hazardous work, to national legislation. Child labour is a complex phenomenon that has a multiplicity of causes, among which poverty usually features first. It requires a comprehensive approach to fight it, including awareness-raising among families and local communities, due diligence by companies involved in global supply chains, and action by governments, international organisations and civil society. The European Union protects children's rights through both its internal and external policies. It has deployed measures to fight child labour through cooperation with international organisations and has funded development projects whose aim is to counter it. The human rights conditionality enshrined in the EU's trade arrangements provides another path for tackling child labour. Nevertheless, there are numerous calls from civil society and the European Parliament to impose binding legal obligations on EU-based companies, to make sure their imports of goods from developing countries are free of child labour.

The Generalised Scheme of Preferences Regulation (No 978/2012): European Implementation Assessment

19-12-2018

This evaluation of the EU Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) focuses on the incentives in the GSP provisions that aim to push beneficiaries to comply with human rights and the extent to which these have been implemented and have had an impact on poverty reduction and good governance. The annexed economic evaluation of the GSP Regulation examines three inter-related questions: how beneficiaries have graduated from the GSP and what role preferences have played; how trade relations between the ...

This evaluation of the EU Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) focuses on the incentives in the GSP provisions that aim to push beneficiaries to comply with human rights and the extent to which these have been implemented and have had an impact on poverty reduction and good governance. The annexed economic evaluation of the GSP Regulation examines three inter-related questions: how beneficiaries have graduated from the GSP and what role preferences have played; how trade relations between the countries that have recently graduated from the GSP and those that still benefit from it are affected; and what the impact of changes in the rules of origin has been.

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