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Banking Union: Postponed Basel III reforms

22-01-2021

This briefing summarises the Basel Committee’s decision to postpone the implementation of the outstanding Basel III standards, their main content, and their estimated impact on banks’ capital needs.

This briefing summarises the Basel Committee’s decision to postpone the implementation of the outstanding Basel III standards, their main content, and their estimated impact on banks’ capital needs.

Economic dialogue with the President of the Eurogroup

22-01-2021

Paschal Donohoe has been invited to his first Economic Dialogue in the ECON Committee since his election as President of the Eurogroup in July 2020. The previous dialogue with Mário Centeno took place on 21 April 2020. The exchange of views with Members of the ECON Committee will cover the ongoing work of the Eurogroup, notably short term policy measures intended to combat the economic, financial and social consequences of COVID-19, medium term policies to support a sustainable recovery and increase ...

Paschal Donohoe has been invited to his first Economic Dialogue in the ECON Committee since his election as President of the Eurogroup in July 2020. The previous dialogue with Mário Centeno took place on 21 April 2020. The exchange of views with Members of the ECON Committee will cover the ongoing work of the Eurogroup, notably short term policy measures intended to combat the economic, financial and social consequences of COVID-19, medium term policies to support a sustainable recovery and increase resilience of the Euro Area and longer term objectives relating to the robustness of the EMU governance framework, including completing the Banking Union. This briefing covers the following issues: the Eurogroup work programme until June 2021 (Section 1); Economic situation and developments (Section 2); the Recovery and Resilience Facility and the 2021 European Semester Cycle (Section 3); EU/EA policy measures taken to mitigate the economic effects of the pandemic (Section 4); Financial assistance programmes and reform of European Stability Mechanism (Section 5) and Banking Union developments (Section 6). For an overview of the role of the President of the Eurogroup, please see Briefing: The role (and accountability) of the President of the Eurogroup.

Reimbursement and compensation in case of transport cancellation or delay: rights and their enforcement

21-01-2021

Following the COVID-19 outbreak, many trips have been cancelled as a result of measures introduced by Member States that substantially restricted travelling. Some companies have refused to refund customers and have imposed on them to use vouchers instead. This briefing aims to provide consumers with guidance and practical advice concerning their claims for reimbursement and compensation following travel cancellations or delays. It points at complaint forms to use, facilitations such as an alternative ...

Following the COVID-19 outbreak, many trips have been cancelled as a result of measures introduced by Member States that substantially restricted travelling. Some companies have refused to refund customers and have imposed on them to use vouchers instead. This briefing aims to provide consumers with guidance and practical advice concerning their claims for reimbursement and compensation following travel cancellations or delays. It points at complaint forms to use, facilitations such as an alternative dispute resolution and European small claims procedure. It also gives more precise information on claims concerning travel cancellations due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Economic Dialogue and Exchange of Views with the President of the Council (ECOFIN)

21-01-2021

João Leão, Minister of Finance of Portugal, is participating in the ECON Committee in his capacity of President of the ECOFIN Council during the Portuguese Presidency (January-June 2021). In accordance with the Treaty of the Union, “Member States shall regard their economic policies as a matter of common concern and shall coordinate them within the Council”. This briefing provides an overview of the Portuguese presidency priorities in ECON matters, including the Council’s work relating to the implementation ...

João Leão, Minister of Finance of Portugal, is participating in the ECON Committee in his capacity of President of the ECOFIN Council during the Portuguese Presidency (January-June 2021). In accordance with the Treaty of the Union, “Member States shall regard their economic policies as a matter of common concern and shall coordinate them within the Council”. This briefing provides an overview of the Portuguese presidency priorities in ECON matters, including the Council’s work relating to the implementation of the European Semester for economic coordination, notably the application of the Recovery and Resilience Facility and deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).

International Agreements in Progress - After Cotonou: Towards a new agreement with the African, Caribbean and Pacific states

20-01-2021

The Cotonou partnership agreement between the European Union (EU) and the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) states was due to expire in February 2020. The then ACP Group of States – which later became the Organisation of the ACP States (OACPS) – and the EU started negotiations for a 'post-Cotonou' agreement in September 2018. This time around, the main challenge for the EU is to maintain its cooperation with the three OACPS sub-regions and to continue to promote the values enshrined in the EU ...

The Cotonou partnership agreement between the European Union (EU) and the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) states was due to expire in February 2020. The then ACP Group of States – which later became the Organisation of the ACP States (OACPS) – and the EU started negotiations for a 'post-Cotonou' agreement in September 2018. This time around, the main challenge for the EU is to maintain its cooperation with the three OACPS sub-regions and to continue to promote the values enshrined in the EU Treaties. At the same time, the new partnership should take into account the United Nations' sustainable development goals, the redefinition of the EU's strategies for the regions concerned, the ACP states' new ambitions and the changing balance of power at the global level. Both the EU and the OACPS have agreed on the principle of a common foundation complemented by three regional protocols. These multi-level negotiations, the coronavirus crisis and difficulties in reaching agreement on sensitive issues, such as migration management and sexual and reproductive health and rights, prevented the new agreement from being finalised by the initial expiry date set in the Cotonou Agreement. Thus, to avoid a legal vacuum in relations, the provisions of this agreement were extended until the end of 2021. After two years of negotiations, a political deal was reached in December 2020, including on the most complex issues. The European Parliament insisted on maintaining the ACP-EU joint parliamentary assembly and was successful in this endeavour; in addition, three regional parliamentary assemblies will be created in the future institutional set-up of the partnership.

Sustainable and smart mobility strategy

20-01-2021

Transport is the backbone of the EU economy, connecting people and businesses across various EU regions and countries. The coronavirus pandemic has shown the impact of mobility restrictions on the free movement of people, goods and services and, at the same time, confirmed the essential role of transport in safeguarding the functioning of vital supply chains. However, transport also generates significant costs to society, in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, environmental pollution, accidents, congestion ...

Transport is the backbone of the EU economy, connecting people and businesses across various EU regions and countries. The coronavirus pandemic has shown the impact of mobility restrictions on the free movement of people, goods and services and, at the same time, confirmed the essential role of transport in safeguarding the functioning of vital supply chains. However, transport also generates significant costs to society, in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, environmental pollution, accidents, congestion and loss of biodiversity. EU ambitions to address these negative impacts have increased over the years. In December 2019, the European Commission put forward the European Green Deal that aims to make the EU carbon neutral by 2050. This goal was subsequently endorsed by the European Parliament and EU Member States. To achieve climate neutrality, the EU transport sector has to cut its CO2 emissions by 90 %. This requirement is in stark contrast with the past trend: despite previously adopted measures, transport is the only sector in which greenhouse gas emissions have kept growing. The Commission has therefore proposed a strategy outlining how it wants to transform the EU transport sector and align it with the European Green Deal, by making it green, digital and resilient. While transport stakeholders have welcomed parts of the strategy as steps in the right direction, concerns about the text’s high ambitions and lack of concrete elements have been voiced. The Commission is to start proposing the measures envisaged in 2021. It remains to be seen to what extent, with what modifications and how fast they will be adopted and then implemented by EU Member States, shaping transport transformation for the years to come.

Qualified majority voting in foreign and security policy: Pros and Cons

19-01-2021

In her first State of the Union speech, and in the section of the speech most applauded by the European Parliament, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called for the use of qualified majority voting (QMV) in areas such as sanctions and human rights. The crises and security challenges accumulating in and around the European Union have added to the urgency of having a more effective and rapid decision-making process in areas pertaining to the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP ...

In her first State of the Union speech, and in the section of the speech most applauded by the European Parliament, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called for the use of qualified majority voting (QMV) in areas such as sanctions and human rights. The crises and security challenges accumulating in and around the European Union have added to the urgency of having a more effective and rapid decision-making process in areas pertaining to the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). The core encumbrance against unanimous EU agreement on foreign policy is argued to be the absence of a common strategic culture among EU Member States. The Lisbon Treaty's architects have equipped the EU Treaties with 'passerelle clauses' – provisions usually aimed at modifying the decision-making of the Council of the EU. The passerelle clause for CFSP is Article 31(3) of the Treaty on European Union, which empowers the European Council to, by unanimous agreement, allow the Council of the EU to take decisions by QMV in some areas of the CFSP. Another option is an emergency brake – cancelling a vote for vital reasons of national policy – while constructive abstention is an option which allows a Member State to abstain from a unanimous vote without blocking it. Since 2016, the EU has witnessed growing momentum to shape its identity as a security provider and peace promoter. From 2020 and until 2022, it is undertaking a strategic reflection process taking the form of a 'strategic compass', whereby the threats, challenges and objectives for the Union in security and defence will be better defined. It is in this context that the debate about QMV in foreign and security policy has resurfaced and continues to be the subject of policy discussions. Nevertheless, recent efforts to innovate in the EU’s methods for adopting sanctions in the field of human rights abuses (the European Magnitsky Act) have been unsuccessful in their attempt to move from unanimity to qualified majority voting.

Adequate minimum wages

19-01-2021

This briefing finds that the European Commission's impact assessment (IA), which accompanies the directive proposal on adequate minimum wages, is based on sound data and presents a sufficiently broad range of policy options. It would have been useful if the measures concerning collective bargaining and adequacy of minimum wages had been explained more thoroughly in relation to the chosen legal basis. The problem description would have benefited of using more information from the extensive annexes ...

This briefing finds that the European Commission's impact assessment (IA), which accompanies the directive proposal on adequate minimum wages, is based on sound data and presents a sufficiently broad range of policy options. It would have been useful if the measures concerning collective bargaining and adequacy of minimum wages had been explained more thoroughly in relation to the chosen legal basis. The problem description would have benefited of using more information from the extensive annexes. It would have clarified the text if the IA had provided the comparative analysis and selection of the preferred option separately for both minimum wage setting systems (collective agreements and legal provisions).

The proposed amendments to the Treaty establishing the European Stability Mechanism

18-01-2021

This document presents the proposed amendments to the Treaty establishing the European Stability Mechanism (ESM). The note outlines the relevant changes and provides a comparison between the current ESM Treaty and the proposed amended one. This note will be updated in light of relevant developments and it complements two separate EGOV briefings: The European Stability Mechanism: Main Features, Instruments and Accountability and the ESM Pandemic Crisis Support.

This document presents the proposed amendments to the Treaty establishing the European Stability Mechanism (ESM). The note outlines the relevant changes and provides a comparison between the current ESM Treaty and the proposed amended one. This note will be updated in light of relevant developments and it complements two separate EGOV briefings: The European Stability Mechanism: Main Features, Instruments and Accountability and the ESM Pandemic Crisis Support.

EU policy on air quality: Implementation of selected EU legislation

18-01-2021

Air pollution is a cross-border problem with direct negative effects on health and the environment. It also has indirect but tangible adverse effects on economies and societies. With the aim of securing good air quality status for its citizens and the environment, the EU has established a policy framework that employs legal regulation as the main policy instrument. This European implementation assessment (EIA) presents findings on the implementation of three major pieces of EU legislation on air ...

Air pollution is a cross-border problem with direct negative effects on health and the environment. It also has indirect but tangible adverse effects on economies and societies. With the aim of securing good air quality status for its citizens and the environment, the EU has established a policy framework that employs legal regulation as the main policy instrument. This European implementation assessment (EIA) presents findings on the implementation of three major pieces of EU legislation on air quality, namely the two Ambient Air Quality Directives and the Industrial Emissions Directive, and makes recommendations for policy action. In addition, the research paper annexed to this EIA maps and assesses the local policies designed and implemented by 10 EU agglomerations with the aim of tackling air pollution from relevant sources, and, in particular, from road transport. It also makes recommendations for policy action, some of which are relevant to any other EU zone/agglomeration affected by air pollution exceedances, irrespective of specific local conditions. Furthermore, the research paper studies the effects of the first wave of pandemic lock-down measures implemented in the same 10 EU agglomerations and their effects on concentrations of certain air pollutants (particularly harmful for health), and, on this basis, outlines lessons that could be applied in future policy-making on air quality at all levels of governance.

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