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Implementation of the common security and defence policy

13-01-2021

The main avenue through which the European Union (EU) contributes to strengthening international peace and security is its common security and defence policy (CSDP). Enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty, this policy is the main framework through which EU Member States take joint action on security and defence matters. The European Parliament is set to vote on the annual CSDP report covering 2020 during the January 2021 plenary session.

The main avenue through which the European Union (EU) contributes to strengthening international peace and security is its common security and defence policy (CSDP). Enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty, this policy is the main framework through which EU Member States take joint action on security and defence matters. The European Parliament is set to vote on the annual CSDP report covering 2020 during the January 2021 plenary session.

Search and rescue in the Mediterranean

12-01-2021

International law imposes an obligation to render assistance to persons and ships in distress at sea, which must be provided regardless of the persons' nationality or status or the circumstances in which they are found. These rules have to be applied without prejudice to the obligations deriving from international humanitarian law and international human rights law, including in particular the prohibition of refoulement. Search and rescue (SAR) and disembarkation activities of EU Member States are ...

International law imposes an obligation to render assistance to persons and ships in distress at sea, which must be provided regardless of the persons' nationality or status or the circumstances in which they are found. These rules have to be applied without prejudice to the obligations deriving from international humanitarian law and international human rights law, including in particular the prohibition of refoulement. Search and rescue (SAR) and disembarkation activities of EU Member States are currently not covered by a common EU legal framework, except for those activities carried out in the context of Frontex-led joint operations at sea. In recent years, a significant proportion of migrants and asylum-seekers in distress at sea have been rescued by EU naval operations, EU agencies and non-governmental organisations in the Mediterranean. Nevertheless, over the last couple of years, the Mediterranean Sea has also been the backdrop for the largest number of casualties and missing people. Lack of coordination in search and rescue activities, solitary action by individual countries and criminalisation of non-governmental organisations active in SAR in the Mediterranean lead to migrants being forced to stay for several days and sometimes weeks on boats. EU Member States and EU agencies (Frontex) have also been accused of pushbacks of asylum-seekers and other migrants to the high seas and towards Libya and Turkey. Individual actors dealing with boats of migrants have been a subject of strong criticism and legal action. Their accountability is, however, not always clear, the reason being varied application and interpretation of different bodies of international law. One solution, proposed by academics, could be the harmonisation of the fragmented legal regime for maritime interceptions.

Excluding Northern Irish imports from EU tariff rate quotas

22-12-2020

The United Kingdom (UK) withdrew from the European Union (EU) on 1 February 2020. The Withdrawal Agreement, which entered into force on 1 February 2020, provides for a transition period during which the UK will remain in the EU's single market and customs union until 1 January 2021. The Withdrawal Agreement also includes a Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, which states that Northern Ireland will be part of the UK's customs territory and internal market after the transition, but that goods originating ...

The United Kingdom (UK) withdrew from the European Union (EU) on 1 February 2020. The Withdrawal Agreement, which entered into force on 1 February 2020, provides for a transition period during which the UK will remain in the EU's single market and customs union until 1 January 2021. The Withdrawal Agreement also includes a Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, which states that Northern Ireland will be part of the UK's customs territory and internal market after the transition, but that goods originating in Northern Ireland have access to the EU without tariffs or quotas, and that EU law relating to competition and trade is applicable to Northern Ireland. While the Protocol creates obligations between the UK and the EU, and specifically allows for the free movement of goods between Northern Ireland and the EU and vice versa, it does not create obligations vis-à-vis third countries. This could lead to circumvention of the use of EU tariff rate quotas and pose a risk to the proper functioning of the EU single market and the integrity of the common commercial policy. To address these risks and provide legal clarification, the European Commission adopted a legislative proposal on 14 August 2020 setting out that goods imported to Northern Ireland from non-EU countries would not benefit from the EU tariff rate quotas and other import quotas unless ultimately destined for the EU. With just a single amendment, to bring forward entry into force (but not change the date of application, 1 January 2021), corresponding to the Council's position, the European Parliament voted on the report in plenary on 25 November 2020. The regulation was then adopted by the Council at first reading, and signed by the Presidents of the two branches of the EU legislature on 16 December 2020.

UK trade agreements with third countries: Implications for the EU

22-12-2020

The United Kingdom (UK) left the European Union (EU) on 1 February 2020 and will regain competence for its own international trade policy as soon as the transition period concludes at the end of 2020. Freedom to determine its own trade relationships was a major reason for the UK's withdrawal from the EU: its new international trade policy is based on the goal of establishing 'global Britain', a country asserting that it is strongly committed to trade openness with international leadership. To this ...

The United Kingdom (UK) left the European Union (EU) on 1 February 2020 and will regain competence for its own international trade policy as soon as the transition period concludes at the end of 2020. Freedom to determine its own trade relationships was a major reason for the UK's withdrawal from the EU: its new international trade policy is based on the goal of establishing 'global Britain', a country asserting that it is strongly committed to trade openness with international leadership. To this end, the UK has concluded as many continuity agreements as possible, in order to roll over existing EU free trade agreements (FTAs), such as that with South Korea. It has also renegotiated, rather than simply roll over, the provisions of EU FTAs, with partners who so demanded, including Japan. Beyond those countries with EU FTAs to which the UK has been party, it has expanded the range of its FTA negotiations to Australia, New Zealand and the United States (US), three of its major trading partners. When it comes to geographic scope, the UK has set the Pacific as a high priority, its objective being to access the newly established Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). In addition, the UK aims to use its advantage in digital trade and services to become a 'world digital trade powerhouse', and has stressed that FTA provisions should promote digital trade and foster regulatory cooperation in the field. The EU represents 50 % of the UK's total trade, and the UK economy is integrated with and reliant on the EU. Therefore, although the UK is facing obstacles in signing trade agreements, its new strategy has a number of implications for the EU. The UK is committed to remaining an open country with respect to international trade and its focus on digital trade and services, which depend less on geography, is seen as a way to diversify away from the EU.

The link between biodiversity loss and the increasing spread of zoonotic diseases

22-12-2020

Over the last decades, a variety of fatal infectious diseases have had zoonotic origins. The linkages between hosts, vectors, parasites and pathogens can be influenced by a multitude of factors, such as biodiversity, wildlife and land use. High levels of biodiversity may be a potential source of pathogen transmission, but biodiversity loss can also promote transmission by increasing the number of competent hosts for a pathogen. Biodiversity conservation reduces the risk of zoonotic diseases when ...

Over the last decades, a variety of fatal infectious diseases have had zoonotic origins. The linkages between hosts, vectors, parasites and pathogens can be influenced by a multitude of factors, such as biodiversity, wildlife and land use. High levels of biodiversity may be a potential source of pathogen transmission, but biodiversity loss can also promote transmission by increasing the number of competent hosts for a pathogen. Biodiversity conservation reduces the risk of zoonotic diseases when it provides additional habitats for species and reduces the potential contact between wildlife, livestock and humans. Additionally, host and vector management is a viable option. Other crucial measures include the restriction and sanitary control of wildlife trade, while considering the needs of indigenous peoples and local communities. Each case requires an assessment of the best way to reduce risk while considering implications for other ecosystem functions or services. This document was provided by the Policy Department for Economic, Scientific and Quality of Life Policies at the request of the committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI).

Išorės autorius

Frank VAN LANGEVELDE, Hugo René RIVERA MENDOZA

Taxation of the digital economy: Latest developments

15-12-2020

There is an important ongoing debate on the direct and indirect taxation of the digital economy. Proposals on digital taxes, which are under negotiation in the OECD, are inter-linked with European Commission proposals on the same subject. As the Council did not reach an agreement on the Commission proposal for a digital services tax, national initiatives appeared in the interim until a global solution in the area of direct taxation could be found in the OECD. On 1 December 2020, the Council endorsed ...

There is an important ongoing debate on the direct and indirect taxation of the digital economy. Proposals on digital taxes, which are under negotiation in the OECD, are inter-linked with European Commission proposals on the same subject. As the Council did not reach an agreement on the Commission proposal for a digital services tax, national initiatives appeared in the interim until a global solution in the area of direct taxation could be found in the OECD. On 1 December 2020, the Council endorsed the text of amendments to the Directive on Administrative Cooperation between the Member States (known as DAC7), which will oblige digital platform operators to provide information on the operations they intermediate. If an agreement is not achieved at global level by July 2021, it could trigger an EU response in the form of a digital levy. There is also a debate on whether that levy should be similar to the Commission proposal that failed to get political backing or not.

Mapping Fake News and Disinformation in the Western Balkans and Identifying Ways to Effectively Counter Them

03-12-2020

Disinformation is an endemic and ubiquitous part of politics throughout the Western Balkans, without exception. A mapping of the disinformation and counter-disinformation landscapes in the region in the period from 2018 through 2020 reveals three key disinformation challenges: external challenges to EU credibility; disinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic; and the impact of disinformation on elections and referenda. While foreign actors feature prominently – chiefly Russia, but also China, ...

Disinformation is an endemic and ubiquitous part of politics throughout the Western Balkans, without exception. A mapping of the disinformation and counter-disinformation landscapes in the region in the period from 2018 through 2020 reveals three key disinformation challenges: external challenges to EU credibility; disinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic; and the impact of disinformation on elections and referenda. While foreign actors feature prominently – chiefly Russia, but also China, Turkey, and other countries in and near the region – the bulk of disinformation in the Western Balkans is produced and disseminated by domestic actors for domestic purposes. Further, disinformation (and information disorder more broadly) is a symptom of social and political disorder, rather than the cause. As a result, the European Union should focus on the role that it can play in bolstering the quality of democracy and governance in the Western Balkans, as the most powerful potential bulwark against disinformation.

Išorės autorius

Samuel GREENE, Gregory ASMOLOV, Adam FAGAN, Ofer FRIDMAN, Borjan GJUZELOV

2020 Sakharov Prize laureate: The democratic opposition in Belarus

01-12-2020

At a time when authoritarianism is rising, the Sakharov Prize draws attention to the situation of those who resist the repression of human rights and fundamental freedoms. This year, the prize is to be awarded to the democratic opposition in Belarus, represented by the Coordination Council. It rewards its courageous and peaceful role in opposing the falsification of the August 2020 elections, despite a brutal crackdown by the authorities. The Sakharov Prize will be presented in a ceremony during ...

At a time when authoritarianism is rising, the Sakharov Prize draws attention to the situation of those who resist the repression of human rights and fundamental freedoms. This year, the prize is to be awarded to the democratic opposition in Belarus, represented by the Coordination Council. It rewards its courageous and peaceful role in opposing the falsification of the August 2020 elections, despite a brutal crackdown by the authorities. The Sakharov Prize will be presented in a ceremony during the European Parliament's December plenary session.

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.

Išorės autorius

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

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.

Būsimi renginiai

20-01-2021
EPRS online policy roundtable with the World Bank: Where next for the global economy
Kitas renginys -
EPRS
25-01-2021
Public Hearing on "Gender aspects of precarious work"
Klausymas -
FEMM
26-01-2021
Public hearing on Co-management of EU fisheries at local level
Klausymas -
PECH

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