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Publicat la 17-09-2021

Plenary round-up – September 2021

17-09-2021

During the September 2021 plenary session in Strasbourg, Parliament held a number of debates, including on legislative proposals for health and disease prevention, and the Brexit Adjustment Reserve; as well as on natural disasters in Europe; the Pegasus spyware scandal; media freedom; and on further deterioration of the rule of law in Poland. Members debated Commission and Council statements on the July 2021 'Fit for 55' package of legislative proposals, in the light of the latest IPCC report. Council ...

During the September 2021 plenary session in Strasbourg, Parliament held a number of debates, including on legislative proposals for health and disease prevention, and the Brexit Adjustment Reserve; as well as on natural disasters in Europe; the Pegasus spyware scandal; media freedom; and on further deterioration of the rule of law in Poland. Members debated Commission and Council statements on the July 2021 'Fit for 55' package of legislative proposals, in the light of the latest IPCC report. Council presented its position on the draft general EU budget for 2022, ahead of the Parliament voting its position during the October II session. Parliament also debated statements from the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission, Josep Borell, on the situation in Afghanistan and in Lebanon. A number of other resolutions and legislative acts were adopted, inter alia on: the instrument for pre-accession assistance (IPA III); a new EU-China strategy; fair working conditions, rights and social protection for platform workers; and on guidelines for Member States' employment policies.

Machinery Directive: Revision of Directive 2006/42/EC

17-09-2021

The Machinery Directive establishes a regulatory framework for mechanical engineering industry products. It regulates the harmonisation of essential health and safety requirements for machinery in order to ensure the free movement of machinery products within the internal market on the one hand, and a high level of protection for machinery users on the other. The European Commission's Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT) evaluation of 2018 concluded that the directive has generally ...

The Machinery Directive establishes a regulatory framework for mechanical engineering industry products. It regulates the harmonisation of essential health and safety requirements for machinery in order to ensure the free movement of machinery products within the internal market on the one hand, and a high level of protection for machinery users on the other. The European Commission's Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT) evaluation of 2018 concluded that the directive has generally remained relevant and effective. However, it pointed at certain shortcomings in the enforcement of the directive (mainly related to market surveillance, a Member State responsibility), and found that despite its technology-neutral design, the directive might not sufficiently cover new risks stemming from emerging technologies (in particular robots using artificial intelligence technologies). Furthermore, it identified the potential for administrative simplification. The Commission issued its new proposal for a regulation on machinery products (COM(2021) 202) on 21 April 2021, as part of the 'artificial intelligence package'. In particular, the change of instrument (regulation instead of a directive) aims at ensuring a uniform implementation in the Member States and avoiding the risk of 'gold plating'.

Citizens' engagement and expectations of the Conference on the Future of Europe

17-09-2021

What sort of European Union do we want to see in the future? What is working well in the EU and what could be improved? These are just two examples of the kind of questions that the European citizens' panels, part of the Conference on the Future of Europe, will have to answer. The Conference on the Future of Europe marks the first time in the history of the EU that citizens have been included in a consultative process in such a structural and innovative manner. The conference, first announced by ...

What sort of European Union do we want to see in the future? What is working well in the EU and what could be improved? These are just two examples of the kind of questions that the European citizens' panels, part of the Conference on the Future of Europe, will have to answer. The Conference on the Future of Europe marks the first time in the history of the EU that citizens have been included in a consultative process in such a structural and innovative manner. The conference, first announced by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in 2019, is now entering its key phase, with the first European citizens' panel meeting taking place on 17 September 2021. The widening gap between citizens and institutions is a known pattern, not only at EU level but also at national level in many countries. Against this backdrop, some forms of participatory democracy – such as citizens' assemblies – already successful in Ireland and elsewhere in recent years, promise to provide a format that allows an open exchange of views in a collaborative environment. The citizens' panels were proposed and designed to give a voice to citizens in the most inclusive way possible. As such, the panels' key requirement is that they represent the EU population faithfully. The result is that 800 EU citizens, equally distributed into four citizens' panels, will be called upon to discuss issues and concerns that they may themselves identify. The debate is supported by a multilingual digital platform, the main hub of the conference. The citizens' panels are not meant to replace representative democracy however, but rather to complement it. The Conference on the Future of Europe is a complex democratic exercise in which the multilingual digital platform gathers ideas from citizens and civil society, citizens' panels give recommendations, and the conference plenary makes proposals on the basis of which the executive board of the Conference will draft the final report. The contribution of the citizens' panels will feed into the proposals of the conference plenary and, ultimately, into the final report of the conference that the executive board will present at the end of the conference for the institutions to follow up.

Long-term vision for rural areas: European Commission communication

17-09-2021

In June 2021, the European Commission published a communication setting out a long-term vision for the EU's rural areas. The range of challenges facing such areas is acknowledged. They include issues relating to demographic change, such as the loss of population from remote rural areas, lower levels of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, poor access to services, and issues concerning connectivity. A lower proportion of households in rural regions have access to next generation broadband compared ...

In June 2021, the European Commission published a communication setting out a long-term vision for the EU's rural areas. The range of challenges facing such areas is acknowledged. They include issues relating to demographic change, such as the loss of population from remote rural areas, lower levels of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, poor access to services, and issues concerning connectivity. A lower proportion of households in rural regions have access to next generation broadband compared to the EU average. Tertiary education and basic digital skill levels are lower in rural areas and a significant gap exists between male and female employment rates. The share of young people aged 15 to 29 years neither in employment nor in education or training is higher in rural areas. The response set out in the Commission's communication includes proposals for a rural pact engaging actors at EU, national, regional and local levels to support the vision and an action plan to support stronger, connected, resilient and prosperous rural areas. A rural observatory will be established to improve data collection and analysis on the situation of rural areas. In support of its proposals, the Commission will put in place a rural proofing mechanism to assess the anticipated impact of major EU legislative initiatives on rural areas. Offering an initial analysis of the communication and its implications for future policy for rural areas, this briefing examines the challenges and opportunities these areas face. It summarises the views and responses of stakeholders regarding the Commission's long-term vision and the findings of the public consultation launched by the Commission in September 2020. Evidence is also presented on the levels of trust rural dwellers have in the different levels of governance. The key drivers that will shape rural areas between now and 2040 are identified from the findings of a foresight analysis undertaken by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), which is included in the communication. Lastly, consideration is given to the experience of applying the rural proofing mechanism, including perspectives on its utility and application in practice.

The Recovery and Resilience Plans: governance at national level

17-09-2021

Based on the Commission assessments of national Recovery and Resilience Plans, this paper provides an overview of two specific dimensions of such analysis - the governance and control structures set up at national level for implementation of the national plans. The briefing summarises in an annex the relevant references in the Commission documents. It also presents, in the introduction, a high level analysis of some related elements of the national plans, as assessed by the Commission and related ...

Based on the Commission assessments of national Recovery and Resilience Plans, this paper provides an overview of two specific dimensions of such analysis - the governance and control structures set up at national level for implementation of the national plans. The briefing summarises in an annex the relevant references in the Commission documents. It also presents, in the introduction, a high level analysis of some related elements of the national plans, as assessed by the Commission and related reports and initiatives. It also refers to the relevant legal framework in the Recovery and Resilience Facility Regulation. This paper will be updated once additional plans are assessed by the Commission.

Publicat la 16-09-2021

World Trade Organization TRIPS waiver to tackle coronavirus

16-09-2021

The coronavirus pandemic has rekindled the global debate on whether the multilateral trade regime for intellectual property rights (IPR) protection limits access to essential medical products. Despite embedded flexibilities in the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), India and South Africa, co-sponsored by a large number of developing countries, submitted an initial proposal for a temporary waiver in response to Covid-19 in October 2020, ...

The coronavirus pandemic has rekindled the global debate on whether the multilateral trade regime for intellectual property rights (IPR) protection limits access to essential medical products. Despite embedded flexibilities in the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), India and South Africa, co-sponsored by a large number of developing countries, submitted an initial proposal for a temporary waiver in response to Covid-19 in October 2020, followed by a revised proposal in May 2021, which continues to divide opinion. The US administration voiced its support for a vaccines waiver. EU leaders indicated an openness to discussion, while putting forward an alternative plan with a focus on limiting export restrictions, compulsory licensing and using the existing TRIPS flexibilities.

International Equal Pay Day

16-09-2021

As things stand, the gender pay gap persists globally and in the European Union, and progress in reducing it is slow. The coronavirus pandemic is a further brake on gender equality. To accelerate the realisation of the principle of 'Equal pay for work of equal value', the United Nations marked the first International Day for Equal Pay on 18 September 2020. This year, for its second edition, the debate will focus on ensuring that equal pay remains at the centre of the response to the pandemic and ...

As things stand, the gender pay gap persists globally and in the European Union, and progress in reducing it is slow. The coronavirus pandemic is a further brake on gender equality. To accelerate the realisation of the principle of 'Equal pay for work of equal value', the United Nations marked the first International Day for Equal Pay on 18 September 2020. This year, for its second edition, the debate will focus on ensuring that equal pay remains at the centre of the response to the pandemic and recognition of women's major contribution to economic recovery.

Research for REGI Committee - Artificial Intelligence and Urban Development

15-09-2021

This At a glance note summarises the research paper that explores the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in urban areas, and its impact on socio-economic and territorial cohesion. The research paper argues that expectations surrounding AI are high, especially in the context of smart-city initiatives, but that the actual benefits are yet to be fully assessed. To avoid potential risks, local and urban authorities need to fulfil a series of conditions that are inherently challenging. The EU’s AI Policy ...

This At a glance note summarises the research paper that explores the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in urban areas, and its impact on socio-economic and territorial cohesion. The research paper argues that expectations surrounding AI are high, especially in the context of smart-city initiatives, but that the actual benefits are yet to be fully assessed. To avoid potential risks, local and urban authorities need to fulfil a series of conditions that are inherently challenging. The EU’s AI Policy and its Cohesion Policy, in particular, may help, but they need to address the territorial dimension of AI more explicitly.

Japan's 2050 goal: A carbon-neutral society

16-09-2021

In October 2020, Japan's Prime Minister, Suga Yoshihide, declared that by 2050 the country would aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero and to realise a carbon-neutral, decarbonised society. In December, the Cabinet adopted the green growth strategy, an industrial policy aimed at generating a virtuous cycle of economic growth and environmental protection, together with the business community. A €15.4 billion fund is to be created, to promote ecological businesses and innovation to achieve ...

In October 2020, Japan's Prime Minister, Suga Yoshihide, declared that by 2050 the country would aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero and to realise a carbon-neutral, decarbonised society. In December, the Cabinet adopted the green growth strategy, an industrial policy aimed at generating a virtuous cycle of economic growth and environmental protection, together with the business community. A €15.4 billion fund is to be created, to promote ecological businesses and innovation to achieve the goal, offering tax credit of up to 10 %. A carbon tax is being considered. The strategy recognises that it would be unrealistic to cover all electricity demand with renewables only. So, by 2050 Japan's energy mix will comprise renewable energy (50-60 %), hydrogen and ammonia (10 %), and energy generated by nuclear and thermal power plants (30-40 %). The strategy acknowledges that promoting electrification in all sectors will boost electricity demand by 30-50 %. To decarbonise electricity, in addition to using renewables and nuclear, Japan wants to further develop its hydrogen technology (in which it is a front-runner) in the direction of CCUS (carbon capture, utilisation and storage technology). It also wants to focus on tapping into the potential of ammonia. Meanwhile, prospects for nuclear are unclear, as the sector has been deeply impacted by the 2011 Fukushima disaster. Doubts have been raised about the technology necessary for achieving coal substitution and CCUS. Japanese business, while already engaged in innovation projects to achieve net-zero carbon emissions, has expressed reservations about some elements of the strategy and the proposed carbon tax. Japan is actively involved in international cooperation on green technologies and could be an ideal partner to the EU, which, through its European Green Deal (EGD), also aims to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. During their May 2021 summit, the EU and Japan adopted the declaration ‘Towards a Green Alliance to protect our environment, stop climate change and achieve green growth’.

Cost of crop protection measures

16-09-2021

Existing, new and emerging crop protection practices, including mechanical techniques, precision agriculture, biocontrol, plant breeding, induced crop resistance, application of ecological principles to increase biodiversity and use of 'green' plant protection products, could help to reduce the use of conventional plant protection products and were described in an earlier STOA study. This new study provides cost estimates for various alternative crop protection practice options in the EU

Existing, new and emerging crop protection practices, including mechanical techniques, precision agriculture, biocontrol, plant breeding, induced crop resistance, application of ecological principles to increase biodiversity and use of 'green' plant protection products, could help to reduce the use of conventional plant protection products and were described in an earlier STOA study. This new study provides cost estimates for various alternative crop protection practice options in the EU

Autor extern

DG, EPRS_This study has been written by A.B. Smit, J.H. Jager, M. Manshanden and J. Bremmer of Wageningen Research 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.

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