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Jewish communities in the European Union

23-01-2020

The Jewish population in the EU has been diminishing in recent decades, and has witnessed an increase in acts of anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish violence in recent years. In defence of its values, including respect for minorities, the EU undertakes and funds actions to counter anti-Semitism. This is a further updated version of an 'at a glance' note published in January 2019.

The Jewish population in the EU has been diminishing in recent decades, and has witnessed an increase in acts of anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish violence in recent years. In defence of its values, including respect for minorities, the EU undertakes and funds actions to counter anti-Semitism. This is a further updated version of an 'at a glance' note published in January 2019.

Understanding BEPS: From tax avoidance to digital tax challenges

21-10-2019

Action to fight corporate tax avoidance has been deemed necessary in the OECD forum and has received further impetus through the G20/OECD Base erosion and profit shifting action plan (known as BEPS). The 2015 BEPS action plan has 15 actions, covering elements used in corporate tax-avoidance practices and aggressive tax-planning schemes. The implementation of the BEPS action plan was designed to be flexible, as a consequence of its adoption by consensus. Recommendations made in BEPS reports range ...

Action to fight corporate tax avoidance has been deemed necessary in the OECD forum and has received further impetus through the G20/OECD Base erosion and profit shifting action plan (known as BEPS). The 2015 BEPS action plan has 15 actions, covering elements used in corporate tax-avoidance practices and aggressive tax-planning schemes. The implementation of the BEPS action plan was designed to be flexible, as a consequence of its adoption by consensus. Recommendations made in BEPS reports range from minimum standards to guidelines, as well as putting in place an instrument to modify the provisions of tax treaties related to BEPS practices. In addition, putting BEPS actions into practice has involved a growing number of countries, so as to provide a more inclusive framework able to involve more countries beyond the OECD and G20 members, and build on cooperation between international organisations. The application of BEPS actions and their follow-up involves issues that remain to be implemented or addressed. Here come in particular issues beyond the avoidance techniques that were addressed in the BEPS action plan, starting with addressing tax challenges of the digital economy, building on the BEPS action1 report that defined a calendar for providing an adaptation of international tax rules to the impact of digitalisation. Based on several intermediary reports, the OECD/G20 inclusive framework on BEPS issued a work programme to develop a consensus solution to the tax challenges arising from the digitalisation of the economy. Endorsed in June 2019 by the G20, this programme outlines the steps for modernising international tax rules. An annex to this document outlines the different international fora and instruments relevant to BEPS actions and the countries or organisations that participate in them or apply them. This briefing updates an earlier edition (PE 607.288), of June 2017.

Europol: The EU law enforcement cooperation agency

19-09-2019

Evolving from informal police cooperation in the 1970s to a fully fledged European Union (EU) agency with a strengthened mandate under its new legal basis (Regulation (EU) 2016/794), Europol's mandate is to strengthen EU Member States' competent authorities and ensure their cooperation for the purpose of 'preventing and combating serious crime affecting two or more Member States, terrorism and forms of crime which affect a common interest covered by a Union policy'. The agency is therefore empowered ...

Evolving from informal police cooperation in the 1970s to a fully fledged European Union (EU) agency with a strengthened mandate under its new legal basis (Regulation (EU) 2016/794), Europol's mandate is to strengthen EU Member States' competent authorities and ensure their cooperation for the purpose of 'preventing and combating serious crime affecting two or more Member States, terrorism and forms of crime which affect a common interest covered by a Union policy'. The agency is therefore empowered to tackle more than 30 forms of serious crime and related criminal offences, including terrorism, drug trafficking, money laundering, human trafficking, sexual abuse and exploitation, trafficking in arms and ammunition. To fulfil its objectives, Europol carries out a series of tasks, including the core activities of performing as the EU criminal information exchange hub and providing operational support and expertise to Member States' criminal investigations. To frame Europol's activities, the Europol Regulation strengthens its data management and data protection rules and provides for enhanced scrutiny: political scrutiny – by a new parliamentary oversight body made up of representatives of the European Parliament and Member States' national parliaments; and scrutiny of its data processing operations – by the European Data Protection Supervisor. Furthermore, the Regulation reforms the framework for Europol's cooperation with partners such as third countries and international organisations, which also allows for an increased role for the Commission and the European Parliament. On the occasion of Europol's 20th anniversary, this briefing provides a timeline of the agency's establishment and consolidation; an overview of its competences, structure and functioning under the current legal framework; as well as some elements related to further developments.

Use of financial data for preventing and combatting serious crime

19-07-2019

On 17 April 2018, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a directive intended to facilitate law enforcement authorities' access to and use of financial information held in other jurisdictions within the EU for investigations related to terrorism and other serious crime. The proposed directive would grant competent authorities direct access to bank account information contained in centralised registries set up in each Member State, according to the Fifth Anti-Money-Laundering Directive. The ...

On 17 April 2018, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a directive intended to facilitate law enforcement authorities' access to and use of financial information held in other jurisdictions within the EU for investigations related to terrorism and other serious crime. The proposed directive would grant competent authorities direct access to bank account information contained in centralised registries set up in each Member State, according to the Fifth Anti-Money-Laundering Directive. The proposal also aims to strengthen domestic and cross-border exchange of information between EU Member States' competent authorities, including law enforcement authorities and financial intelligence units, as well as with Europol. The provisional agreement reached in February 2019 in interinstitutional negotiations was adopted by the European Parliament on 17 April 2019, followed by the Council on 14 June. On 20 June 2019, the directive was signed into law and then published in the Official Journal on 11 July. Member States have until 1 August 2021 to transpose its provisions into national law.

Detecting and protecting victims of trafficking in hotspots

15-07-2019

This study focuses on the issue of trafficking in human beings in the specific context of hotspots. It analyses the processes in place to facilitate the detection of victims when they arrive by sea on Greek and Italian shores, as well as the protection they are granted.

This study focuses on the issue of trafficking in human beings in the specific context of hotspots. It analyses the processes in place to facilitate the detection of victims when they arrive by sea on Greek and Italian shores, as well as the protection they are granted.

EU policies – Delivering for citizens: Protection of EU external borders

28-06-2019

The unprecedented arrival of refugees and irregular migrants in the EU, which peaked in 2015, exposed a series of deficiencies and gaps in EU policies on external borders. It affected the functioning of the Schengen rules, leading to the re-introduction of border checks by several Member States. In response to these challenges, as well as the surge in terrorist and serious cross-border crime activities, the EU has embarked on a broader process of reform aimed at strengthening its external borders ...

The unprecedented arrival of refugees and irregular migrants in the EU, which peaked in 2015, exposed a series of deficiencies and gaps in EU policies on external borders. It affected the functioning of the Schengen rules, leading to the re-introduction of border checks by several Member States. In response to these challenges, as well as the surge in terrorist and serious cross-border crime activities, the EU has embarked on a broader process of reform aimed at strengthening its external borders by reinforcing the links between border controls and security. On the one hand, measures for protecting the EU's external borders have focused on reinforcing EU border management rules, such as the Schengen Borders Code, and strengthening and upgrading the mandates of relevant EU agencies, such as Frontex, eu-LISA, Europol and EASO. On the other hand, in connection with a number of key shortcomings in the EU's information systems, efforts were made to improve use of the opportunities offered by information systems and technologies for security, criminal records, and border and migration management. This included strengthening existing IT systems (SIS II, VIS, Eurodac, ECRIS-TCN), establishing new ones (ETIAS, Entry/Exit System) and improving their interoperability. The broader mandate and the increase of activities in the area of EU border management is also reflected in the growing amounts, flexibility, and diversity of EU funds, inside and outside the current and future EU budget. This is an update of an earlier briefing issued in advance of the 2019 European elections.

EU policies – Delivering for citizens: The fight against tax fraud

28-06-2019

Tax policy, and the fight against tax fraud, have gained particular exposure over the past five years as a result of the light shed by repeated tax leaks and the related journalistic investigations. This has added to the increasing lack of acceptance of damaging tax practices, especially since the recession and the resulting budget constraints. The fight against tax fraud aims at recovering revenue not paid to the public authorities. It also aims at ensuring that fraudsters do not have an advantage ...

Tax policy, and the fight against tax fraud, have gained particular exposure over the past five years as a result of the light shed by repeated tax leaks and the related journalistic investigations. This has added to the increasing lack of acceptance of damaging tax practices, especially since the recession and the resulting budget constraints. The fight against tax fraud aims at recovering revenue not paid to the public authorities. It also aims at ensuring that fraudsters do not have an advantage over compliant taxpayers, thus ensuring tax fairness between taxpayers. Unpaid taxes result in reduced resources for national and European Union (EU) budgets. Though the scale of unpaid taxes is by nature difficult to estimate, available assessments hint at large amounts of resources lost to public finances. Citizens' evaluation of the EU's current involvement in the fight against tax fraud has improved, but the majority of citizens in each Member State still share expectations for even more intensive involvement. Despite this, there is still a considerable gap between citizens' evaluations and expectations of EU involvement. There is still room for improvement in addressing the preferences and expectations of EU citizens. The fight against tax fraud is shared between Member States and the EU. Coming under tax policy, it has remained closely linked to Member State sovereignty, protected by the requirement for unanimity and a special legislative procedure which keeps tax matters firmly under the Council's control. This has been the case since the Union's beginnings, in spite of the proposed limited changes to the tax framework. As shortcomings have been more clearly identified, the discussion has been opened anew in speeches on the State of the Union delivered by the President of the European Commission before the European Parliament. Fighting tax fraud covers not only actions against illegal behaviour, but also the deterrence of fraud and measures to foster compliance. As a result it involves a large reboot of tax provisions, to upgrade them for the scale and features of tax fraud as it is and as it evolves. In spite of the notable deliveries during the 2014-2019 parliamentary term, there remains work ahead, namely because all provisions need to be implemented, enforced, monitored and, if need be, updated, to keep up with the versatility of tax fraud and the pace of digital evolution globally. This is an update of an earlier briefing issued in advance of the 2019 European elections.

EU policies – Delivering for citizens: The fight against terrorism

28-06-2019

Faced with a growing international terrorist threat, the European Union (EU) is playing an ever more ambitious role in counter-terrorism. Even though primary responsibility for combating crime and ensuring security lies with the Member States, the EU provides cooperation, coordination and (to some extent) harmonisation tools, as well as financial support, to address this borderless phenomenon. Moreover, the assumption that there is a connection between development and stability, as well as between ...

Faced with a growing international terrorist threat, the European Union (EU) is playing an ever more ambitious role in counter-terrorism. Even though primary responsibility for combating crime and ensuring security lies with the Member States, the EU provides cooperation, coordination and (to some extent) harmonisation tools, as well as financial support, to address this borderless phenomenon. Moreover, the assumption that there is a connection between development and stability, as well as between internal and external security, has come to shape EU action beyond its own borders. EU spending in the area of counter-terrorism has increased over the years and is set to grow in the future, to allow for better cooperation between national law enforcement authorities and enhanced support by the EU bodies in charge of security, such as Europol and eu-LISA. Financing for cooperation with third countries has also increased, including through the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace. The many new rules and instruments that have been adopted since 2014 range from harmonising definitions of terrorist offences and sanctions, and sharing information and data, to protecting borders, countering terrorist financing, and regulating firearms. To evaluate the efficiency of the existing tools and identify gaps and possible ways forward, the European Parliament set up a Special Committee on Terrorism (TERR), which delivered its report in November 2018. TERR made extensive recommendations for immediate or longer term actions aiming to prevent terrorism, combat its root causes, protect EU citizens and assist victims in the best possible way. In line with these recommendations, future EU counterterrorism action will most probably focus on addressing existing and new threats, countering radicalisation – including by preventing the spread of terrorist propaganda online – and enhancing the resilience of critical infrastructure. Foreseeable developments also include increased information sharing, with planned interoperability between EU security- and border-related databases, as well as investigation and prosecution of terrorist crimes at EU level, through the proposed extension of the mandate of the recently established European Public Prosecutor's Office. This is an update of an earlier briefing issued in advance of the 2019 European elections.

Police cooperation achievements during the legislative term 2014-2019: the role of the European Parliament

13-05-2019

Effective police cooperation is a key step in turning the EU into an area of freedom, security and justice (AFSJ) based on respect for fundamental rights. Cross-border law enforcement cooperation – involving the police, customs and other law enforcement services – is designed to prevent, detect and investigate criminal offences across the EU. In practice, this cooperation mainly concerns serious crime (organised crime, drug trafficking, trafficking in human beings and cybercrime) and terrorism. Considerable ...

Effective police cooperation is a key step in turning the EU into an area of freedom, security and justice (AFSJ) based on respect for fundamental rights. Cross-border law enforcement cooperation – involving the police, customs and other law enforcement services – is designed to prevent, detect and investigate criminal offences across the EU. In practice, this cooperation mainly concerns serious crime (organised crime, drug trafficking, trafficking in human beings and cybercrime) and terrorism. Considerable progress in strengthening police cooperation was made during the 2014-2019 legislative term. Most importantly, the new Europol Regulation took effect in May 2017. In Parliament, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE Committee) is responsible for measures relating to police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, including terrorism, and substantive and procedural measures relating to the development of a more coherent EU approach to criminal law, in accordance with Parliament’s Rules of Procedure.

Area of freedom, security and justice: Cost of Non-Europe

08-05-2019

Substantial progress has been made since creating an area of freedom, security and justice became a major political objective for the EU 20 years ago. Still, there is a lack of consistent monitoring and enforcement of EU values and norms as well as outstanding gaps in the EU’s framework in certain areas. These deficiencies have a significant impact at individual level, notably in terms of preventing the effective exercise of fundamental rights by EU citizens and third country nationals alike. They ...

Substantial progress has been made since creating an area of freedom, security and justice became a major political objective for the EU 20 years ago. Still, there is a lack of consistent monitoring and enforcement of EU values and norms as well as outstanding gaps in the EU’s framework in certain areas. These deficiencies have a significant impact at individual level, notably in terms of preventing the effective exercise of fundamental rights by EU citizens and third country nationals alike. They also have a negative effect on budgetary spending, growth and tax revenue, which is estimated at at least €180 billion annually, with the lack of enforcement of EU values still to be assessed in more detail. Further EU action in four main areas: 1. monitoring and enforcement; 2. the creation of safe legal pathways for migrants and asylum seekers to enter the EU; 3. ingraining a European law enforcement culture; and 4. completing the Union’s fundamental rights framework, would have significant benefits. In particular, it could allow individuals to fully enjoy their fundamental rights and make EU society more secure, open, fair and prosperous. This would also foster trust in the EU on the basis of its ability to deliver on its aims

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