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This Briefing forms part of an EPRS series which offers a synthesis of the pre-legislative state-of-play and advance consultation on a range of key European Commission priorities during the latter’s five-year term in office. It seeks to summarise the state of affairs in the relevant policy field, examine how existing policy is working on the ground, and identify best practice and ideas for the future on the part of governmental organisations at all levels of European system of multilevel governance ...

Nanoparticles lie at the heart of a new method for delivering medicines inside the body – and they were crucial to the success of the Covid-19 mRNA vaccines. This new drug delivery method and others could transform the way we treat disease, potentially boosting the treatment of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and HIV, among others. Insulin and Covid-19 vaccines might even become available as pills. Can the European Union stay on top of this trend? And what challenges lie ahead?

Cities are inevitably affected by shocks and disruptions, the pandemic being a case in point. The extent of the impact however depends on cities' preparedness and capacity to adapt. By thinking ahead, cities can explore emerging or plausible developments in order to anticipate them and contain potential disruption. Drawing on a report prepared by the European Strategy and Policy Analysis System (ESPAS), this EPRS paper explores the impact on and implications for cities of current global trends, such ...

What if the internet failed?

At a Glance 27-09-2021

What if the internet failed? Since the 1960s, when work on its development began, internet infrastructure has become almost as important as the electricity and transport infrastructure in modern societies. More and more key services, such as banking, food retail and health care, rely on internet connections. Despite the internet's original resilient decentralised design, the increasing importance of a few central players and the shift towards greater centralisation have made the internet more susceptible ...

Regarding health data, its availability and comparability, the Covid-19 pandemic revealed that the EU has no clear health data architecture. The lack of harmonisation in these practices and the absence of an EU-level centre for data analysis and use to support a better response to public health crises is the focus of this study. Through extensive desk review, interviews with key actors, and enquiry into experiences from outside the EU/EEA area, this study highlights that the EU must have the capacity ...

Existing, new and emerging crop protection practices, including mechanical techniques, precision agriculture, biocontrol, plant breeding, induced crop resistance, application of ecological principles to increase biodiversity and use of 'green' plant protection products, could help to reduce the use of conventional plant protection products and were described in an earlier STOA study. This new study provides cost estimates for various alternative crop protection practice options in the EU

Deepfakes are hyper-realistic media products created through artificial intelligence (AI) techniques that manipulate how people look and the things that they appear to say or do. They hit the headlines in 2018 with a deepfake video of Barack Obama, which was designed to raise awareness of their challenges. The accessibility and outputs of deepfake generation tools are improving rapidly, and their use is increasing exponentially. A wide range of malicious uses have been identified, including fraud ...

This study provides an assessment of the risks, challenges and opportunities related to new and emerging technologies that are most expected to shape the future battlefield out to 2040. The study presents implications stemming from consideration of individual technologies, as well as cross-cutting analysis of their interactions with broader political, social, economic, and environmental trends. In doing so, the study highlights a need for EU Institutions and Member States to pursue a broad range ...

The emergence of a new generation of digitally manipulated media – also known as deepfakes – has generated substantial concerns about possible misuse. In response to these concerns, this report assesses the technical, societal and regulatory aspects of deepfakes. The rapid development and spread of deepfakes is taking place within the wider context of a changing media system. An assessment of the risks associated with deepfakes shows that they can be psychological, financial and societal in nature ...

Policy analysis examines and assesses problems to determine possible courses for policy action (policy options). In highly complex or controversial contexts, evidence-based policy options might not be socially acceptable. Here, policy analysis can benefit from a foresight-based approach, which helps investigate the issue holistically and assess considered evidence-based policy options against societal concerns. This is especially important in a parliamentary setting, as it enables analysts to consider ...