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Plenary round-up – November II 2020

27-11-2020

During the second November 2020 plenary session, Parliament held a number of debates with Council and the European Commission. Discussions concerned fundamental rights issues such as abortion rights in Poland, the new LGBTIQ equality strategy, and Hungarian interference in the media in Slovenia and North Macedonia. In a debate with Council and Commission, Members also discussed the forthcoming European Council meeting, on 10 11 December 2020. Debates with the Commission included discussion of a new ...

During the second November 2020 plenary session, Parliament held a number of debates with Council and the European Commission. Discussions concerned fundamental rights issues such as abortion rights in Poland, the new LGBTIQ equality strategy, and Hungarian interference in the media in Slovenia and North Macedonia. In a debate with Council and Commission, Members also discussed the forthcoming European Council meeting, on 10 11 December 2020. Debates with the Commission included discussion of a new consumer strategy and a pharmaceutical strategy for Europe. Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borell made statements on escalating tensions in Varosha, and on the fight against impunity for crimes committed against journalists around the world, followed by a debate with Members. Members also voted, inter alia, on representative actions for the protection of the collective interests of consumers, on customs duties on certain products, on tariff quotas with Northern Ireland, as well as on a number of own-initiative reports, including on industrial policy.

The principles of equality and non-discrimination, a comparative law perspective - Canada

26-11-2020

This document is part of a series of studies, which, in a comparative law perspective, seek to present the principles of equality and non-discrimination in different States. This study examines sources of equality law and judicial interpretation of the principles of equality and non-discrimination in Canada. Contemporary equality law was a response to histories of both public and private discrimination in Canada. Statutory protections for equality and non-discrimination emerged in the post World ...

This document is part of a series of studies, which, in a comparative law perspective, seek to present the principles of equality and non-discrimination in different States. This study examines sources of equality law and judicial interpretation of the principles of equality and non-discrimination in Canada. Contemporary equality law was a response to histories of both public and private discrimination in Canada. Statutory protections for equality and non-discrimination emerged in the post World War II era and were expanded and consolidated in the 1960s and 1970s. Constitutional reforms in the 1980s enshrined equality in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Since then, equality jurisprudence has expanded the interpretation of discrimination to include direct, indirect and systemic discrimination. Courts have rejected formal equality to embrace expansive notions of substantive equality in interpreting constitutional protections. Even with such strides over the last decades towards robust equality and non-discrimination principles and protections, just and effective implementation of their promise remains a pressing challenge for Canada.

Údar seachtarach

Professor Colleen SHEPPARD, Professor of Law, Faculty of Law, McGill University

No way back:Why the transatlantic future needs a stronger EU

25-11-2020

There is no way back for transatlantic politics; in recent years it has suffered severe setbacks that cannot be undone. Although the Biden win promises opportunities for EU-US cooperation, the EU’s drive for strategic autonomy will not stop here. It is high time to look afresh at the very foundations of the transatlantic partnership, in light of not only the politics of today, but also the structural trends in the global balance of power and the lasting institutional ties between the two continents ...

There is no way back for transatlantic politics; in recent years it has suffered severe setbacks that cannot be undone. Although the Biden win promises opportunities for EU-US cooperation, the EU’s drive for strategic autonomy will not stop here. It is high time to look afresh at the very foundations of the transatlantic partnership, in light of not only the politics of today, but also the structural trends in the global balance of power and the lasting institutional ties between the two continents. Above all, the transatlantic future needs a stronger EU. For this to happen, the following issues should be given priority: i) dealing with an increasingly assertive China; ii) gaining more from transatlantic trade relations; iii) safeguarding the benefits of NATO and multilateral institutions like the WTO; iv) battling disinformation and other hybrid threats; and v) reinvigorating cooperation over climate change and global health. Because understanding of and trust in US intelligence and foreign policy positions has been eroded, a ‘thickening’ of transatlantic dialogue structures, including among elected representatives, should be pursued. This could include staff exchanges, track-two dialogues with think tanks and civil society, and an increased frequency of the Transatlantic Legislators Dialogue, possibly supplemented with more subordinate bodies on specific issues, such as dealing with China.

Údar seachtarach

Louise VAN SCHAIK, Ties DAMS

UK Internal Market Bill and the Withdrawal Agreement

20-11-2020

On 9 September 2020, the United Kingdom (UK) government tabled a bill in the House of Commons which would govern the country's internal market after the Brexit transition period ends. It aims to allow goods and services to flow freely between the four jurisdictions of the UK – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – replacing the rules now in place through membership of the EU's single market. Certain parts of this UK Internal Market Bill are particularly controversial, as they explicitly ...

On 9 September 2020, the United Kingdom (UK) government tabled a bill in the House of Commons which would govern the country's internal market after the Brexit transition period ends. It aims to allow goods and services to flow freely between the four jurisdictions of the UK – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – replacing the rules now in place through membership of the EU's single market. Certain parts of this UK Internal Market Bill are particularly controversial, as they explicitly contravene the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland attached to the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) that was ratified in January 2020. First, the bill provides that the UK government may authorise Northern Ireland businesses not to complete exit summary declarations when sending goods to Great Britain, thereby breaching the Union Customs Code applicable to NI. The bill would also allow the UK government to interpret, dis-apply or modify the application of the State aid rules of the European Union, which are applicable to UK measures that affect trade between Northern Ireland and the EU. Last but not least, the bill provides that UK regulations in these areas will have effect notwithstanding their incompatibility with relevant domestic or international law, including the Withdrawal Agreement. The reaction of the European Commission to the bill was immediate, calling for an extraordinary meeting of the EU-UK Joint Committee, which was held the following day, 10 September. On 1 October, the Commission sent a letter of formal notice to the UK for breaching its obligations under the WA, marking the beginning of an infringement process against the UK. As the UK did not reply by the end of October, the Commission may now proceed with the process, sending a Reasoned Opinion to the UK. Meanwhile, the bill has passed third reading in the House of Commons, even if in the House of Lords the government has been heavily defeated, with amendments removing the controversial clauses. While the government has indicated its intention to re-table the clauses when the bill returns to the Commons in December, it would be open to it to no longer press for their inclusion, if and when agreement is reached in the ongoing negotiations on the future EU-UK relationship.

US Presidential election [What Think Tanks are thinking]

19-11-2020

Joseph Biden, a former US Vice-President and long-time Senator with a strong interest in foreign affairs, won the US Presidential election for the Democrats, defeating the incumbent Republican President, Donald Trump. Over the past four years, Trump shook the established rules-based international order, notably by withdrawing US funding from various multilateral organisations and pulling out of various international agreements, by renegotiating trade deals, imposing provocative customs duties, and ...

Joseph Biden, a former US Vice-President and long-time Senator with a strong interest in foreign affairs, won the US Presidential election for the Democrats, defeating the incumbent Republican President, Donald Trump. Over the past four years, Trump shook the established rules-based international order, notably by withdrawing US funding from various multilateral organisations and pulling out of various international agreements, by renegotiating trade deals, imposing provocative customs duties, and progressively reducing America’s foreign military presence. Although Trump has not yet conceded defeat, his allegations of election fraud and related attempts at litigation are widely seen as frivolous. Once Biden becomes President, the US is expected to seek to strengthen the transatlantic alliance and revive the multilateral system, without necessarily being able to pursue any significant liberalisation of trade, given domestic political pressures and the ambiguous situation in the US Congress. This note offers links to recent commentaries, studies and reports from major international think tanks on issues related to US elections and President Biden’s expected policies in a number of areas.

The foreign policy implications of the pandemic

19-11-2020

During the November II plenary session, the European Parliament is due to debate an own-initiative report on the foreign policy consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. Considering the pandemic a 'game changer', the report makes the case for stronger and more effective EU external policies, along with a set of recommendations.

During the November II plenary session, the European Parliament is due to debate an own-initiative report on the foreign policy consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. Considering the pandemic a 'game changer', the report makes the case for stronger and more effective EU external policies, along with a set of recommendations.

G20 Summit of November 2020: Great expectations despite boycott calls

19-11-2020

On 21-22 November, under Saudi Arabia's presidency, the G20 will hold its first regular summit in a virtual format. Unavoidably the focus will be on the current crisis, more specifically on protecting lives and livelihoods and restoring growth. Given the crucial role it played in tackling the 2008-2009 financial crisis, hopes are high regarding the G20's potential role in proposing a financial and economic solution to deal with the ongoing downturn. Several major G20 members have invested massive ...

On 21-22 November, under Saudi Arabia's presidency, the G20 will hold its first regular summit in a virtual format. Unavoidably the focus will be on the current crisis, more specifically on protecting lives and livelihoods and restoring growth. Given the crucial role it played in tackling the 2008-2009 financial crisis, hopes are high regarding the G20's potential role in proposing a financial and economic solution to deal with the ongoing downturn. Several major G20 members have invested massive amounts of money to keep their economies afloat, in line with the decision of the extraordinary G20 summit held in the spring, but the depth of the current crisis requires additional action. Some critics have argued that the G20 is not up to its perceived role. The lack of US leadership in particular has been seen as an obstacle preventing the group from living up to its full potential. One of the crucial measures adopted by the G20 has been to freeze the official debt payments of developing countries, with the measure recently being extended. Many voices consider that this will not be enough to avoid state defaults however. Saudi Arabia, the first Arab country to hold the presidency, has been eager to use the opportunity provided by its G20 presidency to showcase its ambitious internal reform programme and its economic potential. The Saudis' leadership of the G20 in these times of turmoil has not escaped criticism, first of all because of the perceived inconsistency between stated objectives at G20 level and internal reality in the country, but also because of the role the country played in the oil price crash of 2020. Given the dire human rights situation in Saudi Arabia and in its fighting in Yemen, calls for a boycott of the summit have been multiplying. The European Parliament has suggested that the EU should downgrade its presence at the summit.

EU-India: Cooperation on climate

17-11-2020

The EU and India are respectively the third and the fourth largest emitters of atmosphere-warming greenhouse gases. Meanwhile, India's per-capita emissions are much lower than those of other major economies. India is acutely affected by climate change and is strongly dependent on coal as a source of primary energy. Nevertheless, it is now a leader in the promotion of renewable energy and has fixed ambitious targets in terms of electricity-generation capacity from renewables. Along these lines, Delhi ...

The EU and India are respectively the third and the fourth largest emitters of atmosphere-warming greenhouse gases. Meanwhile, India's per-capita emissions are much lower than those of other major economies. India is acutely affected by climate change and is strongly dependent on coal as a source of primary energy. Nevertheless, it is now a leader in the promotion of renewable energy and has fixed ambitious targets in terms of electricity-generation capacity from renewables. Along these lines, Delhi is a major promoter of the International Solar Alliance and, alongside other partners, the founder of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure. The EU and India have assumed a leading role in fighting climate change and have been increasingly cooperating with each other in this field, at both public- and private-sector levels. They have agreed partnerships on sectoral issues such as clean energy, water and urban development. The EU is supporting several Indian projects on climate action, sustainability and clean energy. At their 15th summit, held in July 2020, the EU and India placed a strong focus on climate change and reaffirmed their commitment to cooperate for the implementation of the Paris Agreement and to engage constructively in its first global stocktaking in 2023.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN): The EU's partner in Asia?

11-11-2020

Founded in 1967, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is often compared with the EU. Both organisations brought together former adversaries and successfully resolved tensions through cooperation, helping to bring peace and prosperity to their regions. However, the EU and ASEAN operate in very different ways. ASEAN is a strictly intergovernmental organisation in which decisions are based on consensus. While this approach has made it difficult for south-east Asian countries to achieve ...

Founded in 1967, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is often compared with the EU. Both organisations brought together former adversaries and successfully resolved tensions through cooperation, helping to bring peace and prosperity to their regions. However, the EU and ASEAN operate in very different ways. ASEAN is a strictly intergovernmental organisation in which decisions are based on consensus. While this approach has made it difficult for south-east Asian countries to achieve the same level of integration as the EU, it has also enabled ASEAN to accommodate huge disparities among its 10 member states. In 2003, south-east Asian leaders decided to take cooperation to another level by setting up an ASEAN Community. To this end, they adopted a charter in 2007, though without fundamentally changing the nature of the organisation's decision-making or giving it stronger institutions. The community has three pillars: political-security, economic, and socio-cultural. ASEAN's impact has been uneven. Barring the contentious South China Sea issue, ASEAN has become an effective platform for cooperation between its member states and the wider Asia-Pacific region, and promoted economic integration, even if the goal of an EU-style single market is a long way off. On the other hand, ASEAN is still perceived as an elite project that has little impact on the daily lives of south-east Asians. EU-ASEAN relations span four decades and have steadily deepened, building on common values as well as booming trade and investment. Both sides have expressed their ambition to upgrade to a strategic partnership.

Palm oil: Economic and environmental impacts

10-11-2020

Economical and versatile, palm oil has become the world's most widely used vegetable oil. Although palm oil can be produced sustainably, rising consumption increases the risk of tropical rainforests being cut down to make way for plantations. Deforestation threatens biodiversity and causes greenhouse gas emissions. In view of this, the EU has revised its biofuels policy to phase out palm oil-based biodiesel by 2030.

Economical and versatile, palm oil has become the world's most widely used vegetable oil. Although palm oil can be produced sustainably, rising consumption increases the risk of tropical rainforests being cut down to make way for plantations. Deforestation threatens biodiversity and causes greenhouse gas emissions. In view of this, the EU has revised its biofuels policy to phase out palm oil-based biodiesel by 2030.

Imeachtaí atá ar na bacáin

30-11-2020
EPRS online Book Talk | How to own the room (and the zoom) [...]
Imeacht eile -
EPRS
30-11-2020
Hearing on Future-proofing the Tourism Sector: Challenges and Opportunities Ahead
Éisteacht -
TRAN
30-11-2020
LIBE - FEMM Joint Hearing: Combating Gender based Violence: Cyber Violence
Éisteacht -
FEMM LIBE

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