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Plenary round-up - January 2021

22-01-2021

The main debates of the January 2021 plenary session were on the inauguration of the new President of the United States, and the presentation of the Portuguese EU Council Presidency. Members also debated the humanitarian situation of refugees and migrants at the EU's external borders, as well as the EU global strategy on Covid 19 vaccinations, and the social and employment crisis caused by the pandemic and the EU's response. Lack of transparency in Council appointments to the European Public Prosecutor's ...

The main debates of the January 2021 plenary session were on the inauguration of the new President of the United States, and the presentation of the Portuguese EU Council Presidency. Members also debated the humanitarian situation of refugees and migrants at the EU's external borders, as well as the EU global strategy on Covid 19 vaccinations, and the social and employment crisis caused by the pandemic and the EU's response. Lack of transparency in Council appointments to the European Public Prosecutor's Office and the consequences of earthquakes in Croatia were also discussed. Members discussed the Court of Auditors' annual report, and Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borell made statements on the arrest of Aleksei Navalny, on enhancing EU external action in Latin America and the Caribbean, and on the latest developments in the National Assembly of Venezuela.

Treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons ─ The 'Ban Treaty'

20-01-2021

On 22 January 2021, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (the TPNW) enters into force. On that day, nuclear weapons development, testing, production, possession, stockpiling, use and threat of use, as well as the stationing or deployment of another country's nuclear weapons on a state party's national territory will become prohibited under international law. The TPNW has been hailed as historic by supporters of an initiative, which has gained ground in recent years, to rid the world of ...

On 22 January 2021, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (the TPNW) enters into force. On that day, nuclear weapons development, testing, production, possession, stockpiling, use and threat of use, as well as the stationing or deployment of another country's nuclear weapons on a state party's national territory will become prohibited under international law. The TPNW has been hailed as historic by supporters of an initiative, which has gained ground in recent years, to rid the world of the most destructive weapon known to humankind. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which spearheaded these efforts, was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. Supporters hope that the TPNW will strengthen the international legal framework and gradually advance the political norm against nuclear weapons possession and use. Opponents of the Treaty argue that the conditions for disarmament do not currently exist and that promoters of the TPNW fail to recognise this. They also point to the danger of undermining the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), recognised as the cornerstone of the global non-proliferation and disarmament regime, including by proponents of the TPNW. The nine states known to have military nuclear programmes have not signed the TPMW. Nor have Member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which in 2016 re-confirmed its commitment to nuclear deterrence. This raises doubts about the impact of this new instrument and its ability to create normative values. Most EU Member States, 21 of which are members of NATO, oppose the TPNW, and only three have ratified it. The European Parliament has noted that the TPNW provided evidence of the desire to achieve the objective of a nuclear weapons-free world. This is an updated version of an earlier briefing, from January 2018.

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.

Review of dual-use export controls

15-01-2021

Certain goods and technologies have legitimate civilian applications but can also be used for military purposes; so-called 'dual-use' goods are subject to the European Union's export control regime. The regime has just been revised, mainly to take account of significant technological developments, increase transparency and create a more level playing field among EU Member States. The proposed regulation will recast the regulation in force since 2009. Among other elements, the proposal explicitly ...

Certain goods and technologies have legitimate civilian applications but can also be used for military purposes; so-called 'dual-use' goods are subject to the European Union's export control regime. The regime has just been revised, mainly to take account of significant technological developments, increase transparency and create a more level playing field among EU Member States. The proposed regulation will recast the regulation in force since 2009. Among other elements, the proposal explicitly defines cyber-surveillance technology as dual-use technology and introduces human rights violations as an explicit justification for export control. It also includes provisions to control emerging technologies. The proposed regulation introduces greater transparency into dual-use export control by increasing the level of detail Member States will have to provide on exports, licences, licence denials and prohibitions. On 17 January 2018, based on the INTA committee's report on the legislative proposal, the European Parliament adopted its position for trilogue negotiations. For its part, the Council adopted its negotiating mandate on 5 June 2019, and on the basis of this mandate, the Council Presidency began negotiations with the European Parliament's delegation on 21 October 2019. Trilogue negotiations ended on 9 November 2020, with agreement on a final compromise text. Endorsed by the INTA committee on 30 November, the Parliament is expected to vote in plenary on the text in early 2021. Sixth edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Attuazione della politica di sicurezza e di difesa comune

13-01-2021

Il principale strumento attraverso cui l'Unione europea (UE) contribuisce al rafforzamento della pace e della sicurezza internazionali è la politica di sicurezza e di difesa comune (PSDC). Questa politica, sancita dal trattato di Lisbona, costituisce il quadro principale per l'azione comune degli Stati membri dell'UE in materia di sicurezza e difesa. Il Parlamento europeo voterà sulla relazione annuale 2020 relativa alla PSDC durante la tornata di gennaio 2021.

Il principale strumento attraverso cui l'Unione europea (UE) contribuisce al rafforzamento della pace e della sicurezza internazionali è la politica di sicurezza e di difesa comune (PSDC). Questa politica, sancita dal trattato di Lisbona, costituisce il quadro principale per l'azione comune degli Stati membri dell'UE in materia di sicurezza e difesa. Il Parlamento europeo voterà sulla relazione annuale 2020 relativa alla PSDC durante la tornata di gennaio 2021.

The European space sector as an enabler of EU strategic autonomy

16-12-2020

Today, the European Union can boast a degree of strategic autonomy in space. Projects such as Galileo have not only enhanced the EU’s economy, but they may confer on the Union the ability to amplify its Common Foreign and Security Policy and Common Security and Defence Policy. While the EU continues to promote the safe, secure and sustainable use of space, it is also true that space is rapidly becoming a political arena that hangs over geopolitical competition on earth. Space is crucial for EU security ...

Today, the European Union can boast a degree of strategic autonomy in space. Projects such as Galileo have not only enhanced the EU’s economy, but they may confer on the Union the ability to amplify its Common Foreign and Security Policy and Common Security and Defence Policy. While the EU continues to promote the safe, secure and sustainable use of space, it is also true that space is rapidly becoming a political arena that hangs over geopolitical competition on earth. Space is crucial for EU security and defence. Yet the EU is at a cross-roads and it needs to develop ways to ensure that it maintains its strategic autonomy in space. Without strategic autonomy in space, there can be no strategic autonomy on earth. There is a need for the Union to invest in its space presence, push the technological frontier in space, ensure that its ground- and space-based critical infrastructure is protected, ensure that its industrial supply chains are resilient and utilise new initiatives in security and defence to further enhance the EU’s ability to act autonomously.

Autore esterno

Daniel FIOTT

Nuclear arms control regimes: state of play and perspectives

02-12-2020

The EU is facing important challenges in the arms control and disarmament domain: firstly, the gradual abandonment of bilateral agreements between the US and Russia that protected European territory, and secondly, an increasing polarisation among the parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), evidenced by the controversy sparked by the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). Both developments combined weaken the arms control and disarmament regime, increasing the likelihood of a ...

The EU is facing important challenges in the arms control and disarmament domain: firstly, the gradual abandonment of bilateral agreements between the US and Russia that protected European territory, and secondly, an increasing polarisation among the parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), evidenced by the controversy sparked by the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). Both developments combined weaken the arms control and disarmament regime, increasing the likelihood of a global nuclear arms race. While the EU has progressively enhanced its role in arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament, it is afflicted by the same cleavage over disarmament that characterises the NPT framework. Based on a review of the drivers of the current crisis and the options for addressing them, the present briefing illuminates the EU’s record, and identifies ways in which the European Parliament can support the nuclear arms control agenda despite its lack of formal competence in the field. These notably include developing a modus vivendi with the TPNW, and encouraging the Council to lay the groundwork for a multilateral arms control treaty system.

Autore esterno

Clara PORTELA

The state of play of Schengen governance An assessment of the Schengen evaluation and monitoring mechanism in its first multiannual programme

27-11-2020

This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee, assesses the operation and impact of the Schengen evaluation and monitoring mechanism in its first multiannual programme (2014-19), with the aim of identifying what has worked well and developing recommendations to strengthen it. The past decade has presented multiple controversies involving the governments of Schengen states as well as EU institutions ...

This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee, assesses the operation and impact of the Schengen evaluation and monitoring mechanism in its first multiannual programme (2014-19), with the aim of identifying what has worked well and developing recommendations to strengthen it. The past decade has presented multiple controversies involving the governments of Schengen states as well as EU institutions, leading to a persistent state of apparent crisis. The ongoing “Schengen crisis” is rooted in political changes and in structural shortcomings of the Schengen regime. Despite these obstacles, the resilience of the Schengen system should not be underestimated.

Autore esterno

Martin WAGNER & Caitlin KATSIAFICAS Josephine LIEBL Leila HADJ ABDOU & Lenka DRAŽANOVÁ Julien JEANDESBOZ

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.

Autore esterno

Louise VAN SCHAIK, Ties DAMS

Policy Departments’ Monthly Highlights - November 2020

20-11-2020

The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

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