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European Court of Justice and international agreements

15-07-2021

As a subject of public international law, the European Union (EU) concludes international agreements with other subjects of international law, i.e. international organisations and states. The EU may enter into such treaties on its own, or jointly with its Member States – depending on the area of competence (exclusive EU competence or shared competences) to which the treaty in question applies. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) enjoys specific competences with regard to the conclusion, interpretation ...

As a subject of public international law, the European Union (EU) concludes international agreements with other subjects of international law, i.e. international organisations and states. The EU may enter into such treaties on its own, or jointly with its Member States – depending on the area of competence (exclusive EU competence or shared competences) to which the treaty in question applies. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) enjoys specific competences with regard to the conclusion, interpretation and application of international treaties to which the EU is a party. The ECJ can verify the compatibility of an international agreement with the EU Treaties either ex ante or ex post. Furthermore, international treaties concluded by the EU are considered as acts of the institutions and may be subject to interpretation by the Court, especially in the preliminary reference procedure. As a rule no ECJ jurisdiction is envisaged in EU free trade agreements (FTAs), as dispute settlement is carried out through a joint committee, followed by arbitration. In certain specific cases, such as in the European Economic Area and the EU-Turkey Customs Union, the ECJ may have direct involvement in the enforcement of the agreement. The EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement and the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), however, diverge on dispute settlement rules and the role of the ECJ. In the former, the ECJ maintained its jurisdiction during, as well as beyond, the transition period with regard to specific chapters; the ECJ also has the final word on interpreting EU law applied in virtue of the agreement. Conversely, the TCA includes a role for the Court only in regard to the United Kingdom's participation in EU programmes, and its dispute settlement rules vary throughout the agreement.

Strengthening Europol's mandate

03-06-2021

On 9 December 2020, along with its counter-terrorism agenda, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a regulation to reinforce the mandate of Europol, the EU law enforcement cooperation agency. The proposed regulation principally aims at rendering Europol's cooperation with private parties more effective; at responding to the agency's 'big data challenge', by providing a legal basis for processing large and complex datasets, including personal data of data subjects not related to a crime; ...

On 9 December 2020, along with its counter-terrorism agenda, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a regulation to reinforce the mandate of Europol, the EU law enforcement cooperation agency. The proposed regulation principally aims at rendering Europol's cooperation with private parties more effective; at responding to the agency's 'big data challenge', by providing a legal basis for processing large and complex datasets, including personal data of data subjects not related to a crime; and at providing a reinforced role for Europol in relation to research and innovation for law enforcement. The legislative proposal, which would amend the existing Europol Regulation (EU) 2016/794, is also linked to another legislative proposal to modify Regulation (EU) 2018/1862 on the Schengen Information System (SIS), to allow Europol to issue alerts in SIS under a new category. Discussions in the Council started in January 2021. In the European Parliament, a draft report was discussed in the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs at the end of May 2021. First edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Law enforcement and judicial cooperation in criminal matters under the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement

27-05-2021

On 1 May 2021, the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) between the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) entered into force, having been provisionally applied since 1 January 2021. One of the areas covered by the TCA, in its Part Three, is security cooperation between EU and UK law enforcement and judicial authorities in criminal matters. The 13 titles under Part Three contain extensive provisions aimed at enabling the continuation of information exchange, including personal data, between ...

On 1 May 2021, the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) between the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) entered into force, having been provisionally applied since 1 January 2021. One of the areas covered by the TCA, in its Part Three, is security cooperation between EU and UK law enforcement and judicial authorities in criminal matters. The 13 titles under Part Three contain extensive provisions aimed at enabling the continuation of information exchange, including personal data, between competent authorities in the UK and the EU Member States, as well as cooperation related to the surrender of wanted persons. Part Three also provides for close links with Europol and Eurojust, the EU's agencies for, respectively, law enforcement and criminal justice cooperation, although limited by the UK's third-country status. Rules on exchange of information related to criminal records, on mutual legal assistance, on freezing and confiscation of criminal property, as well as on fighting money laundering and terrorist financing, are also covered by Part Three of the TCA. A specific political mechanism will be relied on to settle disputes. While enabling unprecedented cooperation between the EU and the UK as a third country, the TCA reduces the UK's access to EU databases and marks a return to divergence, especially as the agreement excludes the jurisdiction of the EU Court of Justice. In addition, the disapplication of the mutual recognition principle and of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights in relation to the UK brings the challenge of maintaining mutual trust in security cooperation to the fore. In this context, the conditionality linking suspension or termination of Part Three to UK respect of its commitments to fundamental rights, including under the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as in relation to personal data protection, has been welcomed by many.

Understanding the European Committee of the Regions

17-03-2021

The European Committee of the Regions (CoR or 'the Committee') is one of two European Union (EU) advisory bodies, the other being the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC). The CoR was established by the 1992 Treaty of Maastricht, following a period when regional and local interests had been demanding greater involvement in the European decision-making process. The CoR was set up as an advisory body of the Council and the European Commission, made up of local and regional representatives, ...

The European Committee of the Regions (CoR or 'the Committee') is one of two European Union (EU) advisory bodies, the other being the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC). The CoR was established by the 1992 Treaty of Maastricht, following a period when regional and local interests had been demanding greater involvement in the European decision-making process. The CoR was set up as an advisory body of the Council and the European Commission, made up of local and regional representatives, independent in the performance of their duties. With the various Treaty changes, the CoR has managed to consolidate its position in the EU landscape, although some of its longstanding ambitions have yet to materialise – such as its recognition as a fully fledged EU institution with co-decision power over certain territorial matters. In particular, in addition to other reforms, the Treaties have increased the number of policy areas where the Council and the Commission (and since 1999, the European Parliament as well) have an obligation to consult the CoR during the legislative process, also affirming its budgetary and administrative autonomy. Significantly, the Lisbon Treaty gave the CoR the right to bring proceedings before the EU Court of Justice for infringement of the principle of subsidiarity in the fields of mandatory consultation or in the event of a breach of CoR prerogatives. Despite obvious progress over the years in terms of expanding its competences and adapting its way of work, views are divided over the CoR's influence in the EU decision-making process. Its opinions are not binding and other factors limit its impact on legislation and policy, particularly when compared with the co-legislators, Parliament and Council. Nevertheless, as the main point of confluence for subnational interests at EU level, the CoR is far from irrelevant. This briefing looks at the evolution and organisation of the European Committee of the Regions and describes its advisory work and its other activities, beyond the formal role assigned it by the Treaties.

Policing in national parliaments: How parliaments organise their security

02-02-2021

National parliaments organise their security in a variety of ways. Whereas in some cases the principles of separation of powers or of parliamentary autonomy prevent police forces from entering parliamentary premises − meaning that these legislative chambers rely on in-house security services – in others the security of parliaments is ensured exclusively by the police or other state forces with responsibilities in the area of security, defence or civil protection. Other national parliaments exhibit ...

National parliaments organise their security in a variety of ways. Whereas in some cases the principles of separation of powers or of parliamentary autonomy prevent police forces from entering parliamentary premises − meaning that these legislative chambers rely on in-house security services – in others the security of parliaments is ensured exclusively by the police or other state forces with responsibilities in the area of security, defence or civil protection. Other national parliaments exhibit a mixed model, whereby parliamentary security departments are supplemented by national police or military units. This briefing provides an overview of the structures responsible for maintaining security and order in and around the parliaments of 11 EU Member States, namely Belgium, Germany, Spain, Estonia, France, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Finland, and also 3 non-EU countries − Canada, the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (US). It focuses on the competences and tasks assigned to the services responsible for the security of each national parliament and highlights modes of cooperation with other external state forces. Furthermore, the briefing indicates, for each parliament, the ultimate authority in charge of the services responsible for maintaining order and security on and off the premises.

EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement: An analytical overview

02-02-2021

This EPRS publication seeks to provide an analytical overview of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) between the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK), which was agreed between the two parties on 24 December and signed by them on 30 December 2020, and has been provisionally applied since 1 January 2021. The European Parliament is currently considering the Agreement with a view to voting on giving its consent to conclusion by the Council on behalf of the Union. The paper analyses many ...

This EPRS publication seeks to provide an analytical overview of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) between the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK), which was agreed between the two parties on 24 December and signed by them on 30 December 2020, and has been provisionally applied since 1 January 2021. The European Parliament is currently considering the Agreement with a view to voting on giving its consent to conclusion by the Council on behalf of the Union. The paper analyses many of the areas covered in the agreement, including the institutional framework and arrangements for dispute settlement, trade in goods, services and investment, digital trade, energy, the level playing field, transport, social security coordination and visas for short-term visits, fisheries, law enforcement and judicial coordination in criminal matters, and participation in Union programmes. It looks at the main provisions of the Agreement in each area, setting them in context, and also gives an overview of the two parties' published negotiating positions in the respective areas.

Article 50 TEU in practice: How the EU has applied the 'exit' clause

17-11-2020

The United Kingdom's 2016 referendum on EU membership triggered the first ever application of Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), the withdrawal clause. However, as Article 50 TEU had never been tested, some aspects of the procedure had to be defined in real time, a process that was not without controversy. This EPRS In-depth Analysis looks at how the EU has applied the 'exit clause' that sets out the conditions and procedure to be followed in the event of a Member State wishing to ...

The United Kingdom's 2016 referendum on EU membership triggered the first ever application of Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), the withdrawal clause. However, as Article 50 TEU had never been tested, some aspects of the procedure had to be defined in real time, a process that was not without controversy. This EPRS In-depth Analysis looks at how the EU has applied the 'exit clause' that sets out the conditions and procedure to be followed in the event of a Member State wishing to leave the Union. Looking first at the origins and the main features of the withdrawal clause, the paper then emphasises the way in which the Union filled in certain gaps left open in the drafting of Article 50 TEU and took the lead in establishing the main parameters for the withdrawal negotiations with the UK. It also analyses the European Parliament's success in forging a more substantial role in the withdrawal negotiations than that originally assigned to it by the Treaties.

Understanding US Presidential elections

16-10-2020

In August 2020, the two major political parties in the United States (US), the Democrats and the Republicans, formally nominated their respective candidates for the 59th US presidential election, which takes place on Tuesday, 3 November 2020. An initially crowded field of contenders in the Democratic primaries developed into a two-horse race between former US Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders, with Biden declared the Democratic nominee on 18 August. He will now contest the presidential ...

In August 2020, the two major political parties in the United States (US), the Democrats and the Republicans, formally nominated their respective candidates for the 59th US presidential election, which takes place on Tuesday, 3 November 2020. An initially crowded field of contenders in the Democratic primaries developed into a two-horse race between former US Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders, with Biden declared the Democratic nominee on 18 August. He will now contest the presidential election against the Republican candidate, who faced no significant primary challenge, the incumbent US President, Donald Trump. The US President is simultaneously head of state, head of government and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. Presidential elections are therefore a hugely important part of American political life. Although millions of Americans vote in presidential elections every four years, the President is not, in fact, directly elected by the people. Citizens elect the members of the Electoral College, who then cast their votes for the President and Vice-President. While key elements of the presidential election are spelled out in the US Constitution, other aspects have been shaped by state laws, national party rules and state party rules. This explains why presidential campaigns have evolved over time, from the days when presidential candidates were nominated in the House of Representatives by the 'king caucus', to an almost exclusively party-dominated ‘convention’ system, and finally to the modern system of nominations based very largely on primary elections, introduced progressively to increase the participation of party supporters in the selection process. A number of additional developments have also played an important role in shaping today's presidential elections, notably political party efforts to limit 'front-loading' of primaries; the organisation of the Electoral College system and the changes to the campaign financing system. A previous version of this Briefing, written by Carmen-Cristina Cîrlig and Micaela Del Monte, was published in 2016.

Understanding the European Economic and Social Committee

13-10-2020

The European Social and Economic Committee (EESC), established in 1957 by the Treaty of Rome, is one of the two advisory bodies of the European Union (EU). Composed of representatives of various European economic and social groups and categories, such as employers, workers, producers, farmers, liberal professions and civil society organisations, the EESC assists the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission in the policy-making and legislative process, in an advisory capacity. EESC members ...

The European Social and Economic Committee (EESC), established in 1957 by the Treaty of Rome, is one of the two advisory bodies of the European Union (EU). Composed of representatives of various European economic and social groups and categories, such as employers, workers, producers, farmers, liberal professions and civil society organisations, the EESC assists the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission in the policy-making and legislative process, in an advisory capacity. EESC members are appointed by the Council according to the proposals of national governments and after consulting the European Commission, for a mandate of five years. Since the 2002 Treaty of Nice the maximum number of EESC members has been fixed at 350. With the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU, the 24 UK members of the EESC also left. In the new mandate starting on 21 September 2020, the total number of members is 329. Over time, the EU Treaties have increased the number of policy areas in which the consultation of the EESC is required for the adoption of legislation; however, the EU institutions often request the Committee's opinion beyond these mandatory areas, and even before legislation is proposed, in order to assess the views of civil society on a specific topic. Importantly, the EESC has acquired the right to give its views on any EU-related issue and the Committee's own-initiative opinions and information reports currently account for around 15 to 20 % of the opinions it adopts every year. In addition to the consultative role assigned by the Treaties, the Committee has set for itself the task of communicating the European Union to citizens, reinforcing participatory democracy and providing a forum for civil dialogue between the EU institutions and civil society. For over 20 years, the EESC has organised events on various topics, cooperated with national economic and social committees and, in general, strived to enhance the role of civil society both in Europe and outside. In all its aspects, the EESC has become a bridge between Europe and organised civil society.

Coronavirus and prisons in the EU: Member-State measures to reduce spread of the virus

22-06-2020

The coronavirus crisis has put huge pressure on European prisons, already often affected by chronic overcrowding and poor healthcare services. Ensuring strict sanitary conditions, adequate health monitoring and the necessary distancing to prevent an outbreak in these closed environments − particularly vulnerable to contagion − has been a considerable challenge for most, if not all EU Member States. Starting from March 2020, as lockdowns and states of emergency gradually came into force across Europe ...

The coronavirus crisis has put huge pressure on European prisons, already often affected by chronic overcrowding and poor healthcare services. Ensuring strict sanitary conditions, adequate health monitoring and the necessary distancing to prevent an outbreak in these closed environments − particularly vulnerable to contagion − has been a considerable challenge for most, if not all EU Member States. Starting from March 2020, as lockdowns and states of emergency gradually came into force across Europe, EU Member States have taken a number of containment measures to protect prisoners' health. These measures have consisted mostly of suspending all visits and regular activities in order to limit contacts among detainees and also between detainees and the outside world. Transfers of prisoners between EU countries have been put on hold as well. Improved sanitary measures have been taken in detention centres, in terms of both personal hygiene and cleanliness of premises. At the same time, several Member States have sought to reduce overcrowding, by limiting entries and increasing exits, for instance by postponing the execution of sentences or using alternatives to detention. However, according to the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, at least half the Member States did not seek alternatives to detention. This briefing looks into the various measures adopted by Member States between early March and the end of May 2020 in response to the challenges posed to the Union's prisons by the coronavirus crisis. While, at the time of writing, containment measures in many Member States are gradually being eased, the long-term impact of the pandemic on prison conditions and populations remains to be seen.

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21-09-2021
EPRS online Book Talk with David Harley: Inside the room - Shaping Europe, 1992-2010
Imeacht eile -
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21-09-2021
Putting the 'e' in e-health
Ceardlann -
STOA
27-09-2021
Turning the tide on cancer: the national parliaments' view on Europe's Cancer Plan
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BECA

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