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Posted on 21-10-2021

European Parliament: Facts and Figures

21-10-2021

This Briefing, published by the European Parliamentary Research Service, is designed to provide key facts and figures about the European Parliament. It looks at both the current parliamentary term (July 2019 to June 2024) and the eight previous five-year terms since direct elections were introduced in June 1979. It includes graphics of various kinds which: * detail the composition of the European Parliament now and in the past; * trace the increase in the number of parties represented in the EP and ...

This Briefing, published by the European Parliamentary Research Service, is designed to provide key facts and figures about the European Parliament. It looks at both the current parliamentary term (July 2019 to June 2024) and the eight previous five-year terms since direct elections were introduced in June 1979. It includes graphics of various kinds which: * detail the composition of the European Parliament now and in the past; * trace the increase in the number of parties represented in the EP and the evolution of political groups; * show the age of Members and chart the rise in the number of women sitting in the Parliament; * explain the electoral systems used in elections to the Parliament across the Member States; * show how turnout in European elections has changed over time and varied between Member States; * summarise the work of the Parliament in the current and previous five-year terms; * outline the composition of the Parliament's committees, delegations and governing bodies; * explain the legislative role of the Parliament and its interaction with the European Commission. The Briefing is being updated regularly over the 2019-24 term to take account of latest developments.

European green bond standard

21-10-2021

The IA assesses elements to be added to the 2019 TEG report on a European Green Bond Standard (EU-GBS). The range of options is therefore limited to these additional aspects and does not cover the entire set of rules for green bonds. The IA is based on reliable internal and external research, international data and several stakeholder consultations. While the definition of the objectives could have been more specific, the problem analysis and the assessment of options are overall logical and thorough ...

The IA assesses elements to be added to the 2019 TEG report on a European Green Bond Standard (EU-GBS). The range of options is therefore limited to these additional aspects and does not cover the entire set of rules for green bonds. The IA is based on reliable internal and external research, international data and several stakeholder consultations. While the definition of the objectives could have been more specific, the problem analysis and the assessment of options are overall logical and thorough, even if their structure could have been more straightforward. Some valuable information - and explanation - featured in the annexes could have made the main text of the IA more accessible, especially relating to the technical aspects and current market practices. Despite some weaknesses, the IA makes a convincing case for a voluntary EU-GBS, with some flexibility for sovereigns, taking into account their institutional specificities, but respecting the screening criteria of the EU-taxonomy.

Posted on 20-10-2021

EU international procurement instrument

20-10-2021

Government procurement forms an important part of national economies. The EU has opened up its public procurement markets to third countries to a large degree, while many other economies have had limited appetite to liberalise market access. In 2012, the European Commission tabled a proposal for an international procurement instrument (IPI). The IPI would give the EU leverage in negotiating the reciprocal opening of public procurement markets in third countries. The Commission revised the proposal ...

Government procurement forms an important part of national economies. The EU has opened up its public procurement markets to third countries to a large degree, while many other economies have had limited appetite to liberalise market access. In 2012, the European Commission tabled a proposal for an international procurement instrument (IPI). The IPI would give the EU leverage in negotiating the reciprocal opening of public procurement markets in third countries. The Commission revised the proposal in 2016, taking on board some recommendations from Council and Parliament. However, the revised proposal did not advance owing to differences in Member States' positions. In 2019, discussions in Council gathered new momentum in the context of a growing recognition of the need to level the playing field in international trade. In June 2021, Council adopted a negotiating mandate that added the threat of market exclusion to the price adjustment mechanism. Once Parliament's position on the revised IPI proposal has been finalised, the three institutions will launch trilogue negotiations. These are likely to centre on the scope and type of measures necessary to encourage reciprocity. Second edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Posted on 19-10-2021

Lobbying and foreign influence

19-10-2021

Lobbying and foreign influence are normal, integrated activities in modern public policy-making and geopolitics. When these influencing activities are covert or illicit in nature, however, they can be damaging to public image and levels of public trust in our democratic societies and their institutions, including those of the EU. Although not a modern concept, the frequency and extent of covert influence activities by third countries have been increasing since the mid-2010s. In the EU, this has taken ...

Lobbying and foreign influence are normal, integrated activities in modern public policy-making and geopolitics. When these influencing activities are covert or illicit in nature, however, they can be damaging to public image and levels of public trust in our democratic societies and their institutions, including those of the EU. Although not a modern concept, the frequency and extent of covert influence activities by third countries have been increasing since the mid-2010s. In the EU, this has taken the form of disinformation attacks on the EU, hidden agendas pushed by foreign funded academic think-tanks and funding of Member State political parties by authoritarian regimes, all with the aim of undermining the legitimate decision-making processes and political structures in and of the EU. The term foreign interference is often utilised to differentiate between legitimate influencing activities, such as diplomatic relations, and activities with the intention to disrupt. As this is not an exact science, however, it is also often difficult to distinguish between foreign influence and foreign interference activities. While interference tactics are often coercive, covert, deceptive, and clandestine in nature, influence activities can be made more transparent, thereby making it easier to differentiate between interference and the more legitimate influence activities. In light of the aforementioned growing foreign interference efforts, the EU considers foreign interference tactics as a serious threat and is taking steps to monitor and mitigate them, by, for example, setting up specific bodies or committees, especially in the context of EU elections. In parallel, the EU is also trying to improve the transparency of foreign influence activities. One such measure is broadening the scope of the Transparency Register, a public database of the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission, for the registration of transparent and ethical interest representation activities. According to the latest OECD report on lobbying, only three OECD nations (the USA, Australia and Canada) have rules in place that cover foreign influence. On the back of a new Interinstitutional Agreement (IIA) on a mandatory Transparency Register, however, the EU looks set to join those three nations.

Posted on 18-10-2021

The concept of 'climate refugee': Towards a possible definition

18-10-2021

According to statistics published by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, since 2008 over 318 million people around the world have been forcibly displaced by floods, windstorms, earthquakes or droughts, 30.7 million in 2020 alone. This is equivalent to one person being displaced every second. Depending on the frequency and scale of the major natural disasters occurring, there are significant fluctuations in the total number of displaced people from one year to the next, yet the trend over ...

According to statistics published by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, since 2008 over 318 million people around the world have been forcibly displaced by floods, windstorms, earthquakes or droughts, 30.7 million in 2020 alone. This is equivalent to one person being displaced every second. Depending on the frequency and scale of the major natural disasters occurring, there are significant fluctuations in the total number of displaced people from one year to the next, yet the trend over recent decades has been a growing one. Many find refuge within their own country, but some are forced to go abroad. In the summer of 2021, Europe witnessed heavy and unprecedented flooding, particularly in Belgium and Germany, and heat domes in the Mediterranean region. Scientists relate this directly to climate change. All things considered, the number of 'climate refugees' looks set to rise. So far, the national and international response to this challenge has been limited, and protection for the people affected remains inadequate. What adds further to the gap in protection of such people – who are often described as 'climate refugees' – is that there is neither a clear definition of this category of people, nor are they covered by the 1951 Refugee Convention. The latter extends only to people who have a well-founded fear of being persecuted because of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, and who are unable or unwilling to seek protection from their home countries. While the EU has not so far recognised climate refugees formally, it has expressed growing concern and has taken action to support the countries potentially affected by climate-related stress and help them develop resilience. This briefing is an update of an earlier one from January 2019.

Posted on 15-10-2021

Updating the framework for the safety of non-food consumer products on the internal market

15-10-2021

This briefing provides an initial analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the impact assessment (IA) accompanying the Commission proposal for a regulation on general product safety aimed at ensuring that EU consumers are protected from dangerous non-food products. The IA defines clearly the problems to be addressed and their analysis appears to be satisfactory but the description of how they would evolve without any EU intervention is limited. The IA does not compare the retained options in terms ...

This briefing provides an initial analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the impact assessment (IA) accompanying the Commission proposal for a regulation on general product safety aimed at ensuring that EU consumers are protected from dangerous non-food products. The IA defines clearly the problems to be addressed and their analysis appears to be satisfactory but the description of how they would evolve without any EU intervention is limited. The IA does not compare the retained options in terms of efficiency, and proportionality. The IA appears to have done a convincing analysis of the economic and social impacts of the options retained for assessment. The IA includes a very comprehensive reports of the consultations held, specifically referring to the received feedback in several parts of the report. Overall, the analysis carried out in the IA appears to be well grounded. The IA appears to have addressed the RSB's comments. The proposal appears to be largely consistent with the analysis provided in the IA.

Outlook for the European Council meeting of 21-22 October 2021

15-10-2021

The regular European Council meeting of 21-22 October 2021 will discuss the coronavirus pandemic, digital policy, migration, energy prices and external relations. Regarding the coronavirus pandemic, EU Heads of State or Government will focus on EU coordination, resilience and readiness in terms of health crises and the EU's future preparedness for the short and medium terms. The discussions at the meeting on both digital policy and on migration are expected to be stock-taking exercises, assessing ...

The regular European Council meeting of 21-22 October 2021 will discuss the coronavirus pandemic, digital policy, migration, energy prices and external relations. Regarding the coronavirus pandemic, EU Heads of State or Government will focus on EU coordination, resilience and readiness in terms of health crises and the EU's future preparedness for the short and medium terms. The discussions at the meeting on both digital policy and on migration are expected to be stock-taking exercises, assessing the implementation of previous European Council decisions and possibly adding further specifications to them. If the update of the Schengen Borders Code were to be addressed in the context of migration, this could generate a strong debate, since despite overall support for strong external EU borders, Member States have diverging views on how border protection should be assured. EU leaders could also debate energy prices at length, as the issue has become high profile in many Member States. Regarding external relations, discussions in the European Council will focus on preparations for forthcoming international events, notably the ASEM and the Eastern Partnership summits, and the COP26 climate conference. In addition, the Presidents of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, may brief EU Heads of State or Government on the recent EU-Ukraine Summit, held on 12 October 2021.

European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA): Pre-legislative synthesis of national, regional and local positions on the European Commission's initiative

15-10-2021

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 ...

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. This analysis of the positions of partner organisations at EU, national, regional and local levels suggests that they would like the following main considerations to be reflected in discussion of the legislative proposal to establish an emergency framework for a European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA): * Governmental organisations at all levels advocate a robust operational and infrastructural framework, with a long-term vision, a coherent legal structure and efficient decision-making procedures. They generally favour a comprehensive impact assessment in advance of the establishment of HERA. * Public authorities at national, regional and local levels suggest that the HERA should develop a strong relationship with the World Health Organization (WHO). Some governmental organisations especially stress the need for robust links with developing countries. * Public authorities agree on the need for a clear interface between HERA, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA). A further issue is the relationship between HERA and existing EU operational crisis management mechanisms, where national authorities recommend avoiding duplication of work. They also suggest taking into account regional and local circumstances in a coordinated crisis response. * Many governmental organisations hold a rather positive view of the interaction between the EU and the national levels, where HERA could have a beneficial coordinating role, although some public authorities have expressed concern about possible conflicts of competence between national and EU levels in the health sector.

Looking to Glasgow: A scene-setter ahead of COP26

15-10-2021

Adopted in 1992, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has gathered the nations of the world with the common goal to limit dangerous global warming. In December 2021, after having been postponed for a year due to the coronavirus crisis, world leaders will meet in Glasgow for the 26th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP26) to continue negotiations on the implementation of the Paris Agreement. The latest assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate ...

Adopted in 1992, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has gathered the nations of the world with the common goal to limit dangerous global warming. In December 2021, after having been postponed for a year due to the coronavirus crisis, world leaders will meet in Glasgow for the 26th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP26) to continue negotiations on the implementation of the Paris Agreement. The latest assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) underscores the of role human activities in causing global warming. The UNFCCC-commissioned IPCC special report on impacts of global warming of 1.5°C (SR1.5) also outlines the risks of current trajectories. There is therefore strong pressure on world leaders to deliver progress in Glasgow. Parties to the Paris Agreement were required to update their nationally determined contributions to fight climate change and its impacts before COP26. Some Parties are yet to do so, while analysis of submitted contributions as of July 2021, shows action to reach the agreed targets remains insufficient. Most key emitting nations continue to rate poorly on their climate action performance. While COP24 and COP25 both failed to finalise the Paris Agreement rulebook, and developed nations so far fall short of fulfilling their climate finance promises, expectations are mounting for Glasgow to finish the job. At the same time, Covid 19 restrictions and impacts continue to create challenges to participate in person, especially for developing countries' delegations. Recent Eurobarometer surveys show citizens have a clear expectation that their governments should handle the climate change challenge, with research also pointing to a growing acceptance of the need to change personal habits in view of transitioning to more sustainable economies. The European Parliament will vote on a motion for a resolution on COP26 at the October II plenary session in Strasbourg. The draft highlights the urgency of action and calls upon leaders to ensure a just transition and adequate support for areas and states vulnerable to climate change impacts.

Posted on 14-10-2021

EU-China relations in challenging times

14-10-2021

Following the 1975 establishment of diplomatic relations with China, the European Economic Community (EEC) focused its strategic approach – in line with its competences at the time – on support for China's economic opening, launched in 1978 by Deng Xiaoping. While this approach resulted in a swiftly expanding trade and investment relationship, results in other areas are rather mixed. By most accounts, the strategy also failed to contribute to making significant progress on the rule of law in China ...

Following the 1975 establishment of diplomatic relations with China, the European Economic Community (EEC) focused its strategic approach – in line with its competences at the time – on support for China's economic opening, launched in 1978 by Deng Xiaoping. While this approach resulted in a swiftly expanding trade and investment relationship, results in other areas are rather mixed. By most accounts, the strategy also failed to contribute to making significant progress on the rule of law in China and there were no visible results of the EU's human rights engagement. Given that, at the beginning of Deng's reforms, China was very poor, the EEC/European Union (EU) de facto agreed to an arrangement for special and differential treatment, linked to China's status as a developing country. However, with China having become an upper-middle income country and the bilateral trade relationship still characterised by considerable asymmetries, the existing lack of reciprocity in market access and of a level playing field in general have attracted increasing attention. At the same time, China has been regressing in terms of human rights. Furthermore, the country has become much more assertive in the regional context, is fast improving its (offensive) military capabilities and has started to engage in global disinformation campaigns and cyber-attacks. As a consequence, the EU has changed its strategic approach considerably, as exemplified by the 2019 Joint Communication, which proposed different legal instruments to ensure a level playing field in trade, and to fend off Chinese attempts to gain access to critical infrastructures. Relations with the European Parliament have deteriorated, pushing Parliament to put the comprehensive agreement on investment (CAI) – which had been agreed on 30 December 2020 – on ice.

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25-10-2021
European Gender Equality Week - October 25-28, 2021
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