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Investing in destabilisation: How foreign money is used to undermine democracy in the EU

06-05-2021

Foreign interference has become a major security threat for democracies. The European Union (EU) provides no exception and, in the last few years, has significantly stepped up its efforts to counter this threat. A specific type of foreign interference is the foreign funding of political parties. At the national level, regulations banning or limiting foreign funding are currently in place in most member states, but there is still significant variation across them. At the EU level, the recent reforms ...

Foreign interference has become a major security threat for democracies. The European Union (EU) provides no exception and, in the last few years, has significantly stepped up its efforts to counter this threat. A specific type of foreign interference is the foreign funding of political parties. At the national level, regulations banning or limiting foreign funding are currently in place in most member states, but there is still significant variation across them. At the EU level, the recent reforms of the regulation on the funding of the Europarties and their associated foundations have banned contributions from abroad. Notwithstanding such welcome changes to party regulations, cases of foreign funding are still being reported in several member states, with foreign actors exploiting regulatory loopholes to channel funds or provide other types of support. To tackle this issue more effectively, regulatory convergence at the national level should be promoted, the transparency of party accounts should be enhanced, and the monitoring and sanctioning powers of the relevant control authorities strengthened.

Ārējais autors

Edoardo BRESSANELLI

The six policy priorities of the von der Leyen Commission: State of play in spring 2021

03-05-2021

This EPRS paper analyses progress in attaining the policy agenda set out by Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, and her College of Commissioners when they took office in December 2019. It looks in particular at the state of play in respect of delivery on the six key priorities asserted at that time and at how they have since been affected by the impact of the coronavirus crisis. The evidence so far suggests that, rather than undermine their original agenda or knock it badly ...

This EPRS paper analyses progress in attaining the policy agenda set out by Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, and her College of Commissioners when they took office in December 2019. It looks in particular at the state of play in respect of delivery on the six key priorities asserted at that time and at how they have since been affected by the impact of the coronavirus crisis. The evidence so far suggests that, rather than undermine their original agenda or knock it badly off course, the Commission has been able to use the momentum of events to assert the increased relevance of their priorities – especially in the climate action and digital fields – and to operationalise them further through the €750 billion 'Next Generation EU' (NGEU) recovery fund. Concretely, EPRS finds that of the nearly 400 legislative and non-legislative initiatives foreshadowed by the von der Leyen Commission on taking office or since (397), almost half have already been submitted (192). Of these, one in five has already been adopted (43), while the great majority of the remainder are either proceeding normally in the legislative process (97) or are close to adoption (26). Conversely, a certain number of proposals are proceeding very slowly or are currently blocked (26).

Cohesion, resilience and values: Heading 2 of the 2021-2027 MFF

14-04-2021

Heading 2 – Cohesion, resilience and values – is the biggest of the seven headings in the multiannual financial framework (MFF) for the 2021-2027 period in terms of budget. Since about 87 % of the heading falls under shared management and will be distributed to national envelopes, for the Member States it is a particularly important part of the MFF. It is also the most diverse heading in terms of the types of programme and fund included. It encompasses expenditure on cohesion, one of the EU's long-standing ...

Heading 2 – Cohesion, resilience and values – is the biggest of the seven headings in the multiannual financial framework (MFF) for the 2021-2027 period in terms of budget. Since about 87 % of the heading falls under shared management and will be distributed to national envelopes, for the Member States it is a particularly important part of the MFF. It is also the most diverse heading in terms of the types of programme and fund included. It encompasses expenditure on cohesion, one of the EU's long-standing policies, on an entirely new budgetary instrument supporting economic recovery and resilience, and on other increasingly important goals, including youth, the creative sector, values, equality and the rule of law. Moreover, the bulk of the Next Generation EU instrument will be channelled through programmes under Heading 2. This briefing presents Heading 2 in detail. It aims to provide some clarity on its structure and allocation, and is structured around three spending areas: cohesion; recovery; and citizens and values. In the 2021-2027 MFF, the allocation on economic, social and territorial cohesion (subheading 2a) – the budget for cohesion policy – is about 10 % lower than its equivalent, subheading 1b, in the 2014-2020 MFF. Additional resources from REACT-EU, a temporary instrument financed under the Next Generation EU instrument (NGEU), will lift the cohesion policy budget to a level comparable with the allocation under the previous MFF. This is an update of a briefing from January 2019.

Outcome of the video-conferences of EU leaders on 25 March 2021

30-03-2021

Due to the worsening epidemiological situation, EU leaders met on 25 March 2021 in a series of video-conferences instead of a two-day physical meeting. The top priority was the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, notably through increasing production, delivery and deployment of vaccines. Another highlight of the European Council meeting was the exchange of views with the President of the United States, Joe Biden – the first such meeting for 11 years – which focused on the coronavirus pandemic ...

Due to the worsening epidemiological situation, EU leaders met on 25 March 2021 in a series of video-conferences instead of a two-day physical meeting. The top priority was the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, notably through increasing production, delivery and deployment of vaccines. Another highlight of the European Council meeting was the exchange of views with the President of the United States, Joe Biden – the first such meeting for 11 years – which focused on the coronavirus pandemic and common challenges. In addition, EU leaders reviewed recent work in the area of the single market, industrial policy and digital, and discussed the situation in the eastern Mediterranean and relations with Turkey. The Euro Summit video-conference discussed the international role of the euro.

Interpretation and implementation of Article 50 TEU Legal and institutional assessment

24-03-2021

This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the AFCO Committee, looks into the constitutional and institutional challenges that the European Union faced during the Brexit negotiations, and analyses whether the current wording of Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union was applied in an adequate manner and allowed for an efficient and properly organised withdrawal procedure.

This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the AFCO Committee, looks into the constitutional and institutional challenges that the European Union faced during the Brexit negotiations, and analyses whether the current wording of Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union was applied in an adequate manner and allowed for an efficient and properly organised withdrawal procedure.

Ārējais autors

PAPAGEORGIOU Ioannis

Outlook for the meetings of EU leaders on 25-26 March 2021

22-03-2021

One year after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the fight against the virus will again top the agenda of the European Council meeting on 25-26 March 2021. EU leaders are expected to focus their discussions on ‘digital green certificates’ (providing proof of vaccination and/or Covid-19 test results) and progress on production, delivery and deployment of vaccines. They will work further on developing a common EU approach to the gradual lifting of restrictions and refer to global solidarity ...

One year after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the fight against the virus will again top the agenda of the European Council meeting on 25-26 March 2021. EU leaders are expected to focus their discussions on ‘digital green certificates’ (providing proof of vaccination and/or Covid-19 test results) and progress on production, delivery and deployment of vaccines. They will work further on developing a common EU approach to the gradual lifting of restrictions and refer to global solidarity. Other agenda points are digitalisation, including digital taxation, the single market and industrial policy. In respect of external relations, EU leaders will review the situation in the eastern Mediterranean and hold a strategic discussion on Russia. The subsequent Euro Summit will discuss the international role of the euro.

Strategic communications as a key factor in countering hybrid threats

10-03-2021

This report describes the key features, technologies and processes of strategic communications to counter hybrid threats and their components. The theoretical description of hybrid threats is complemented by the analysis of diverse case studies, describing the geopolitical context in which the hybrid threat took place, its main features, the mechanisms related to strategic communications used by the victim to counter the hybrid threat and its impact and consequences. A comprehensive set of policy ...

This report describes the key features, technologies and processes of strategic communications to counter hybrid threats and their components. The theoretical description of hybrid threats is complemented by the analysis of diverse case studies, describing the geopolitical context in which the hybrid threat took place, its main features, the mechanisms related to strategic communications used by the victim to counter the hybrid threat and its impact and consequences. A comprehensive set of policy options aimed at improving the EU response to hybrid threats is also provided.

Ārējais autors

DG, EPRS_This study has been written by Juan Pablo Villar García, Carlota Tarín Quirós and Julio Blázquez Soria of Iclaves S.L., Carlos Galán Pascual of the University Carlos III of Madrid, and Carlos Galán Cordero of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya at the request of the Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA) and managed by the Scientific Foresight Unit, within the Directorate-General for Parliamentary Research Services (EPRS) of the Secretariat of the European Parliament.

Outcome of the European Council video-conference of 26 February 2021

03-03-2021

On 26 February 2021, EU leaders met for a second videoconference session to discuss security and defence and the southern neighbourhood. They reaffirmed their commitment to implement the 2019-2024 Strategic Agenda by increasing the EU's ability to act autonomously and strengthening its resilience by taking 'more responsibility for its security'. They also expressed their wish to deepen the transatlantic bond with the US and through NATO. In line with past meetings dedicated to security and defence ...

On 26 February 2021, EU leaders met for a second videoconference session to discuss security and defence and the southern neighbourhood. They reaffirmed their commitment to implement the 2019-2024 Strategic Agenda by increasing the EU's ability to act autonomously and strengthening its resilience by taking 'more responsibility for its security'. They also expressed their wish to deepen the transatlantic bond with the US and through NATO. In line with past meetings dedicated to security and defence, the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, joined the EU leaders to discuss EU-NATO cooperation.

Outcome of the European Council video-conference of 25 February 2021

26-02-2021

For the tenth time since the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis, the European Council met by video-conference, however this time in two separate sessions. The first, on 25 February, dealing with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and ways of increasing the EU’s health resilience, is covered in this paper, while the second, the following morning, addressed security and defence as well as the southern neighbourhood, and is covered by a separate paper. Regarding the pandemic, EU leaders called for acceleration ...

For the tenth time since the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis, the European Council met by video-conference, however this time in two separate sessions. The first, on 25 February, dealing with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and ways of increasing the EU’s health resilience, is covered in this paper, while the second, the following morning, addressed security and defence as well as the southern neighbourhood, and is covered by a separate paper. Regarding the pandemic, EU leaders called for acceleration in the authorisation, production and distribution of vaccines, reiterated their solidarity with third countries, and acknowledged that non-essential travel still needed to be restricted while ensuring the unhindered flow of goods and services within the single market. To strengthen the EU’s resilience to future health emergencies, EU leaders will seek to improve coordination to ensure better prevention, preparedness and response. However, further EU integration in health policy was excluded, with the conclusions stressing that these actions should be carried out ‘in line with the Union competences under the Treaties’. EU leaders also called on the Commission to draw up a report on the lessons learned from this crisis, to take forward the work on the European health union, and underlined the need for a global approach, including an international treaty on pandemics.

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

23-02-2021

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.

Ārējais autors

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

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