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Posted on 22-04-2021

EU4Health programme

22-04-2021

On 28 May 2020, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a regulation on a new health programme (EU4Health) for 2021 to 2027. Announced as part of the Next Generation EU (NGEU) recovery instrument, according to the Commission, the EU4Health programme is intended to boost the EU's preparedness for major cross-border health threats and improve health systems' resilience. EU4Health would be a stand-alone, dedicated funding programme with an originally proposed budget of €10.4 billion (in current ...

On 28 May 2020, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a regulation on a new health programme (EU4Health) for 2021 to 2027. Announced as part of the Next Generation EU (NGEU) recovery instrument, according to the Commission, the EU4Health programme is intended to boost the EU's preparedness for major cross-border health threats and improve health systems' resilience. EU4Health would be a stand-alone, dedicated funding programme with an originally proposed budget of €10.4 billion (in current prices). However, during the negotiations on the 2021-2027 multiannual financial framework (MFF) and NGEU, the budget for EU4Health was revised downwards, with the July 2020 European Council conclusions allocating the programme €1.7 billion. On 14 December 2020, Parliament and Council reached a provisional agreement on the programme, including a budget of €5.1 billion. Stakeholders had broadly welcomed the proposal, but generally regretted the European Council's reduction of the financial envelope allocated to it. The co-legislators' December agreement on an increased budget was thus positively received. After adoption by the Parliament and Council in March 2021, based on the text agreed in trilogue, the final act was signed by the presidents of the co-legislators on 24 March 2021. Regulation (EU) 2021/522 entered into force on 27 March 2021 and applies retroactively from 1 January 2021. Third edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Digital cultural diversity

22-04-2021

Digital technologies have revolutionised every aspect of our lives, and culture is no exception. They have impacted on the value chains of all the cultural and creative industries not only as regards the creative process and its execution but also as regards the making of a work or product of art and its promotion, distribution, marketing and sale. Cultural heritage can be digitised and, in the case of analogue film, it needs to be digitised to be made accessible. Some production processes are solely ...

Digital technologies have revolutionised every aspect of our lives, and culture is no exception. They have impacted on the value chains of all the cultural and creative industries not only as regards the creative process and its execution but also as regards the making of a work or product of art and its promotion, distribution, marketing and sale. Cultural heritage can be digitised and, in the case of analogue film, it needs to be digitised to be made accessible. Some production processes are solely digital and are born digital. Technology has a huge potential to make culture accessible to all, by democratising both consumption and involvement in cultural creation. However, technology depends on equipment and infrastructure, which does not necessarily facilitate the diversity of content available and discoverable online. Other factors, such as language, skills or geographical location can also make it harder to discover online cultural content reflecting cultural diversity. Conscious of such barriers, UNESCO has issued guidelines on the implementation of the Convention on Cultural Diversity in Digital Environments. The EU is part of this convention and has tools and funds to promote and protect cultural diversity, in line with its obligation stemming from the Treaties, not just on its own territory.

Customs programme: Supporting cooperation to strengthen the customs union

22-04-2021

On 18 June 2018, the Commission put forward a proposal for a regulation establishing a Customs programme for cooperation in the field of customs over the 2021-2027 MFF period, a successor to Customs 2020. The programme's main objective is to fund actions aimed at strengthening the customs union. On 15 December 2020, the co-legislators reached agreement in trilogue. The Council adopted its first-reading position on 1 March 2021. On 8 March 2021, IMCO – the committee responsible for the file in the ...

On 18 June 2018, the Commission put forward a proposal for a regulation establishing a Customs programme for cooperation in the field of customs over the 2021-2027 MFF period, a successor to Customs 2020. The programme's main objective is to fund actions aimed at strengthening the customs union. On 15 December 2020, the co-legislators reached agreement in trilogue. The Council adopted its first-reading position on 1 March 2021. On 8 March 2021, IMCO – the committee responsible for the file in the European Parliament – adopted its recommendation for second reading of the Customs programme by the Parliament. The Parliament voted to adopt the first-reading position without amendments on 10 March 2021, and the final act was signed the following day. The regulation was published in the Official Journal on 15 March 2021 and entered into force immediately, and with retroactive application as of 1 January 2021. First edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

EU climate action in ocean governance and fisheries policy

22-04-2021

Marine resources are a vital and growing source of food for human consumption, while oceans also play an important role in climate regulation. Scientific evidence shows that the climate system has changed rapidly in recent decades, with the oceans greatly mitigating the effects of climate change by absorbing excess heat and human-made carbon emissions. The velocity of the effects of climate change leaves little room for adaptation, causing both declines in abundance and geographic shifts in fish ...

Marine resources are a vital and growing source of food for human consumption, while oceans also play an important role in climate regulation. Scientific evidence shows that the climate system has changed rapidly in recent decades, with the oceans greatly mitigating the effects of climate change by absorbing excess heat and human-made carbon emissions. The velocity of the effects of climate change leaves little room for adaptation, causing both declines in abundance and geographic shifts in fish populations. As a result, people who rely heavily on seafood and fisheries for their livelihoods run the risk of income loss and food insecurity. The European Green Deal places climate action at the heart of a wide range of new legislative and non-legislative initiatives and includes ambitious goals such as achieving climate-neutrality by 2050 and preserving and protecting biodiversity. The new 'farm to fork' strategy addresses the challenges of sustainability in the food supply chain and, in the area of seafood, highlights the imminent update of the strategic guidelines on aquaculture, the goal to support the algae industry and the focus on climate change in the 2022 common fisheries policy review. In its biodiversity strategy, the Commission proposes a new binding target of 30 % marine protected areas in EU waters by 2030, a target supported by Parliament. A reduction in fishing pressure could also offset the environmental impacts of climate change. The last reform of the common fisheries policy marked an important milestone by requiring fish stocks to be restored and maintained above levels capable of producing the maximum sustainable yield. An own-initiative report from Parliament's Committee on Fisheries focuses specifically on the impact of rising seawater temperatures on fish stocks and fisheries. The oceans can be harnessed to help to close the emissions gap however, by unlocking their renewable offshore energy potential. In its offshore renewable energy strategy, the Commission aims to reach a deployment of 300 GW in offshore wind capacity by 2050, a 20-fold increase compared to today. Another own-initiative report from Parliament's Committee on Fisheries looks into the impact on the fishing sector of offshore wind and other renewable energy systems.

Posted on 21-04-2021

Just Transition Fund

21-04-2021

The EU aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 % by 2030 and achieve climate neutrality by 2050. This will require a socio-economic transformation in regions relying on fossil fuels and high-emission industries. As part of the European Green Deal, on 14 January 2020, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a regulation to create the Just Transition Fund, aimed at supporting EU regions most affected by the transition to a low carbon economy. In the context of recovery from the coronavirus ...

The EU aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 % by 2030 and achieve climate neutrality by 2050. This will require a socio-economic transformation in regions relying on fossil fuels and high-emission industries. As part of the European Green Deal, on 14 January 2020, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a regulation to create the Just Transition Fund, aimed at supporting EU regions most affected by the transition to a low carbon economy. In the context of recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, an amended proposal on the Just Transition Fund (JTF) was published on 28 May 2020. The JTF is set to have a budget of €17.5 billion (€7.5 billion from the core EU budget under the Multiannual Financial Framework and €10 billion from the Next Generation EU instrument, in 2018 prices). Funding will be available to all Member States, while focusing on regions with the biggest transition challenges. The proposed budget for the Just Transition Fund may be complemented with resources from cohesion policy funds and national co financing. The Fund will be part of a Just Transition Mechanism, which also includes resources under InvestEU and a public-sector loan facility. In the European Parliament, the file has been entrusted to the Committee on Regional Development (REGI). A provisional political agreement was reached in trilogue on 9 December 2020. The Parliament is expected to vote on the text of the regulation during its May 2021 plenary session.

New Ethiopian dam sparks controversy among Nile states

21-04-2021

Successive negotiation rounds between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt about the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) have ended in stalemate. This new dam, built by Ethiopia on the Blue Nile (the Nile's main tributary), will bring into operation Africa's largest hydropower plant. It is expected to secure access to electricity for the majority of Ethiopians, to foster economic development and to provide revenues from the sale of surplus electricity abroad. For its part, Sudan ...

Successive negotiation rounds between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt about the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) have ended in stalemate. This new dam, built by Ethiopia on the Blue Nile (the Nile's main tributary), will bring into operation Africa's largest hydropower plant. It is expected to secure access to electricity for the majority of Ethiopians, to foster economic development and to provide revenues from the sale of surplus electricity abroad. For its part, Sudan expects the new dam will not only help regulate the flow of the Nile and prevent devastating floods but also provide access to cheap energy; still, it fears the new dam will hinder the yield of its own dam – Roseires – situated within a short distance downstream. Egypt too is worried about the potential impact of the new dam on its own Aswan High Dam, and that it will give Ethiopia control over the flow of the Nile and reduce the fresh water available for Egyptians. Yet again, the GERD has reignited a long rivalry about the sharing of waters among the Nile basin countries. Most – including Ethiopia – have signed a comprehensive framework agreement on the water management of the Nile and its tributaries. However, Sudan and Egypt have refused to take part in the Nile basin comprehensive framework agreement, unless it recognises their right to oversee the use of most of the Nile waters, which a bilateral treaty of 1959 accorded to them, but which is contested by other basin countries. The EU supports the African Union in the quest for a negotiated solution on the GERD, which risks further setbacks due to the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region. This is an update of a Briefing published in December 2020. The author acknowledges the assistance of Christian Meseth from the Directorate-General for External Policies (DG EXPO) with the updating.

Posted on 20-04-2021

Sustainable and smart mobility strategy – Delivered at local level

20-04-2021

On 9 December 2020, the European Commission put forward a sustainable and smart mobility strategy, outlining its planned steps to transform the European Union (EU) transport system to meet the ambition of the European Green Deal and the objectives of the EU's digital strategy. The strategy aims to rebuild the European transport sector, badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic, making it greener, smarter and more resilient, while leaving no one behind. This is to be achieved by strengthening the existing ...

On 9 December 2020, the European Commission put forward a sustainable and smart mobility strategy, outlining its planned steps to transform the European Union (EU) transport system to meet the ambition of the European Green Deal and the objectives of the EU's digital strategy. The strategy aims to rebuild the European transport sector, badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic, making it greener, smarter and more resilient, while leaving no one behind. This is to be achieved by strengthening the existing rules, proposing new legislation and providing support measures and guidance. The Commission will start to make proposals for the planned measures in 2021. Once agreed by the EU legislators and adopted as new EU rules, these will have to be implemented. While national governments will be expected to align their existing national legislation with the new requirements, the task of putting the new rules into practice will often be managed by public administrations at regional and local level. Cities and regions will have to adapt their existing systems and invest to make transport more sustainable, but also to allow citizens to better combine the available mobility options, enabling them to reduce their daily travel needs while ensuring connectivity and service accessibility. This briefing looks at the policy and other support that the European Commission is providing for local and regional authorities to facilitate the mobility transition. Following established practice, they will be invited to contribute to the design of the individual measures outlined in the strategy. They should also have their say in setting their national priorities for receiving EU financing for the post-coronavirus recovery, as an opportunity to start transforming the transport system from the local level. This Briefing has been drafted following a request from a member of the European Committee of the Regions, in the framework of the Cooperation Agreement between the Parliament and the Committee.

Alcohol labelling

20-04-2021

In its Europe's Beating Cancer plan, published in February 2021, the European Commission suggests – among other initiatives concerning cancer prevention – several actions concerning alcoholic beverages, such as limiting online advertising and promotion, and reviewing European Union (EU) legislation on the taxation of alcohol. Also among the proposals is mandatory labelling of ingredients and nutrient content on alcoholic beverages by the end of 2022. Health warnings on labels should follow by the ...

In its Europe's Beating Cancer plan, published in February 2021, the European Commission suggests – among other initiatives concerning cancer prevention – several actions concerning alcoholic beverages, such as limiting online advertising and promotion, and reviewing European Union (EU) legislation on the taxation of alcohol. Also among the proposals is mandatory labelling of ingredients and nutrient content on alcoholic beverages by the end of 2022. Health warnings on labels should follow by the end of 2023. Labelling of ingredients and nutritional values on alcoholic drinks already has a long history. First attempts to label ingredients were made in the late 1970s, resulting in the Council not being able to agree on any of the proposed models. Alcoholic drinks containing more than 1.2 % by volume of alcohol (ABV) are exempted from the obligation set on other drinks and foodstuffs, to list the ingredients and make a nutritional declaration on the label. The European Commission adopted a report in 2017, concluding that it had 'not found objective grounds that would justify' the absence of information on ingredients and nutritional information on alcoholic beverages. Following on from the Commission's report, the European associations representing the alcoholic beverages sectors presented their self-regulation proposal in March 2018, suggesting that some sectors would list all ingredients on labels, while others could use online means of communication instead. Stakeholders have differing views on the desirability and feasibility of such listings on-label; some would prefer this information to be allowed to be given off-label through QR-codes, apps or websites, while others absolutely insist that alcoholic drinks should be no different from other sectors of the food and drink industry. The European Parliament has called on the European Commission to consider a health warning and calorie content on alcoholic beverage labels.

Building up resilience to cross-border health threats: Moving towards a European health union

20-04-2021

On 11 November 2020, the European Commission put forward a proposal for a regulation on serious cross-border threats to health. In the light of lessons learned from the Covid-19 crisis, it aims to strengthen the EU's health security by revising Decision No 1082/2013/EU (the 'Cross-Border Health Threats Decision'). The proposal was presented in a package that also includes proposals to strengthen the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA), ...

On 11 November 2020, the European Commission put forward a proposal for a regulation on serious cross-border threats to health. In the light of lessons learned from the Covid-19 crisis, it aims to strengthen the EU's health security by revising Decision No 1082/2013/EU (the 'Cross-Border Health Threats Decision'). The proposal was presented in a package that also includes proposals to strengthen the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA), as first steps towards a European health union. Stakeholders widely welcome the proposal and the package. Some say it could be improved further, suggesting concrete elements, while others think it should go beyond crisis preparedness. Still others consider it a springboard to a bigger role for the European Union (EU) in health. Parliament has repeatedly called for stronger cooperation on health, for a new regulation to replace the Cross-Border Health Threats Decision, and for revised mandates of both the ECDC and the EMA. Parliament's Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety is responsible for the file and the rapporteur's draft report is expected to be presented in committee on 22 April 2021. In Council, work is ongoing in the working party on pharmaceuticals and medical devices. First edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Research for CULT Committee - Approaches of the Council and the Commission to the European Education Area

20-04-2021

In September 2020, the Commission published a communication on achieving the European Education Area by 2025 with an ambitious strategy revolving around six key dimensions (European Commission, 2020a). In February 2021, in its resolution on a strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training towards the European Education Area and beyond (2021-2030), the Council welcome the Commission’s proposal (Council of the European Union, 2021). It set out a series of ‘strategic priorities ...

In September 2020, the Commission published a communication on achieving the European Education Area by 2025 with an ambitious strategy revolving around six key dimensions (European Commission, 2020a). In February 2021, in its resolution on a strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training towards the European Education Area and beyond (2021-2030), the Council welcome the Commission’s proposal (Council of the European Union, 2021). It set out a series of ‘strategic priorities’ bearing some similarities with the key dimensions mentioned above but giving less prominence to inclusion and the geopolitical dimension while putting a stronger focus on lifelong learning and mobility.

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