Source: Ernst & Young
Our survey of over 3,000 board members, managers and their teams delivers three clear messages:
Executives and their teams are under increased personal pressure to produce growth in extremely challenging conditions.
Unethical conduct — including fraud, bribery and corruption — in response to this pressure is not just a just a hypothetical risk. One in five respondents have seen financial manipulation occurring in their companies. Fifth-seven percent believe that bribery and corruption are widespread in their country.
Compliance programs work, but not well enough. Companies that do not keep asking the right questions — and demanding answers — are exposing themselves to significant risk.
Source: Energy Information Administration
The United Kingdom (UK) is the largest producer of oil and the second-largest producer of natural gas in the European Union (EU). Following years of exports of both fuels, the UK became a net importer of natural gas and crude oil in 2004 and 2005, respectively. Production from UK oil and natural gas fields peaked in the late 1990s and has declined steadily over the past several years, as the discovery of new reserves and new production have not kept pace with the maturation of existing fields.
The UK government, aware of the country’s increasing reliance on imported fuels, has developed key energy policies to address the domestic production declines. These include: using enhanced recovery from current and maturing oil and gas fields, promoting energy efficiency, decreasing the use of fossil fuels and thus reliance on imports, promoting energy trade cooperation with Norway, and decarbonizing the UK economy by investing heavily in renewable energy. However, for the UK to decarbonize its economy, huge investments in the energy infrastructure are needed.
Despite the expanding use of renewable energy, petroleum and natural gas will continue to account for the vast majority of UK’s energy consumption. In 2011, petroleum and natural gas accounted for 38 and 35 percent, respectively, of total energy consumption, with the renewable energy sources growing to 12 percent of the total. Renewable energy use, particularly in the electric power sector, has more than tripled between 2000 and 2011.
Energy use per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) in the UK is one of the lowest among western economies. The UK has seen total energy consumption decline by more than 15 percent between 2004 and 2011. This decline resulted from smaller contribution of energy-intensive industry to the economy, economic contraction, and improvements in energy efficiency.
Source: Pew Global Attitudes Project
The European Union is the new sick man of Europe. The effort over the past half century to create a more united Europe is now the principal casualty of the euro crisis. The European project now stands in disrepute across much of Europe.
Support for European economic integration – the 1957 raison d’etre for creating the European Economic Community, the European Union’s predecessor – is down over last year in five of the eight European Union countries surveyed by the Pew Research Center in 2013. Positive views of the European Union are at or near their low point in most EU nations, even among the young, the hope for the EU’s future. The favorability of the EU has fallen from a median of 60% in 2012 to 45% in 2013. And only in Germany does at least half the public back giving more power to Brussels to deal with the current economic crisis.
The sick man label – attributed originally to Russian Czar Nicholas I in his description of the Ottoman Empire in the mid-19th century – has more recently been applied at different times over the past decade and a half to Germany, Italy, Portugal, Greece and France. But this fascination with the crisis country of the moment has masked a broader phenomenon: the erosion of Europeans’ faith in the animating principles that have driven so much of what they have accomplished internally.
The prolonged economic crisis has created centrifugal forces that are pulling European public opinion apart, separating the French from the Germans and the Germans from everyone else. The southern nations of Spain, Italy and Greece are becoming ever more estranged as evidenced by their frustration with Brussels, Berlin and the perceived unfairness of the economic system.
These negative sentiments are driven, in part, by the public’s generally glum mood about economic conditions and could well turn around if the European economy picks up. But Europe’s economic fortunes have worsened in the past year, and prospects for a rapid turnaround remain elusive. The International Monetary Fund expects the European Union economy to not grow at all in 2013 and to still be performing below its pre-crisis average in 2018. Nevertheless, despite the vocal political debate about austerity, a clear majority in five of eight countries surveyed still think the best way to solve their country’s economic problems is to cut government spending, not spend more money.
These are among the key findings of a new study by the Pew Research Center conducted in eight European Union nations among 7,646 respondents from March 2 to March 27, 2013.
Source: Migration Policy Institute
Migration resulting from environmental change has been a topic of preoccupation since the 1990s, but in practice there has been very little policy development within the European Union on this topic. This brief finds that while such migration is likely to be largely concentrated in areas outside of Europe, there are far-reaching implications for policy.
Source: PriceWaterhouse Coopers
The 2012 global multichannel retail consumer survey was completed by more than 11,000 respondents from 11 different countries. For PwC, this is our most comprehensive research to date on multichannel retailing. In order to truly understand the trends and spot the patterns in multichannel shopping, we surveyed only those consumers who self-identified as online shoppers.
The 11 countries covered in the survey were:
- United Kingdom
- United States
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. Department of State Foreign Press Center)
Seven nations—China, France, India, Pakistan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—possess nuclear weapons. North Korea tested a nuclear explosive device in 2006, and announced that it had conducted a test in 2009 and another in 2013. Israel is widely thought to have nuclear weapons. As an aid to Congress in understanding nuclear weapons, nuclear proliferation, and arms control matters, this report describes which agency is responsible for research and development (R&D) of nuclear weapons (i.e., nuclear explosive devices, as distinct from the bombers and missiles that deliver them) in these nations and whether these agencies are civilian or military. It also traces the history of such agencies in the United States from 1942 to the present. This report will be updated annually, or more often as developments warrant.
In the United States, the Army managed the nuclear weapons program during World War II. Since 1946, weapons R&D has been managed by civilian agencies, at present by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), a semiautonomous agency in the Department of Energy. Concerns about “the immediate and long-term issues associated with the NNSA,” however, led Congress to establish the Congressional Advisory Panel on the Governance of the Nuclear Security Enterprise in the FY2013 National Defense Authorization Act, P.L. 112-239. China’s nuclear weapons R&D is apparently under the direction of the military, collectively called the People’s Liberation Army.
France’s nuclear weapons R&D is supervised by the Ministry of Defense, which delegates the direction of these programs to the French Atomic and Alternative Energy Commission (CEA). However, as with NNSA in the United States, CEA is not a part of the Ministry of Defense. CEA also conducts nuclear programs in science and industry under the supervision of other ministries.
India’s nuclear weapons R&D appears to be controlled by the Department of Atomic Energy, which is under the direct control of the Prime Minister.
Israel’s nuclear program is under civilian control, but since Israel neither confirms nor denies that it possesses nuclear weapons, it classifies information on such weapons, including organizations responsible for R&D. The Israel Atomic Energy Commission reportedly has overall responsibility for Israel’s nuclear weapons program, and the Director General of that commission reports directly to the Prime Minister.
North Korea’s Ministry of Atomic Energy Industry is in charge of the day-to-day operation of the nuclear weapons program. Under it are nuclear-related organizations. Policy is decided by leader Kim Jong-un and other Communist Party and military leaders who advise him.
Pakistan’s National Command Authority (NCA) supervises the functions and administration of all of Pakistan’s organizations involved in nuclear weapons R&D and employment, as well as the military services that operate the strategic forces. The Prime Minister is the chair of the NCA, and membership includes senior civilian and military leaders.
Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation (Rosatom) is responsible for nuclear weapons R&D and production. It is a civilian agency, though it has many links to the military.
In the United Kingdom, a private company, AWE Management Limited, manages and operates the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), a government-owned, contractor-operated entity. The Ministry of Defence (MoD), which is headed by a civilian, controls the operations, policy, and direction of AWE and can veto actions of the company. The MoD provides most of the funding for AWE.
The United Kingsom and U.S.-UK Relations (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. Department of State Foreign Press Center)
Many U.S. officials and Members of Congress view the United Kingdom (UK) as the United States’ closest and most reliable ally. This perception stems from a combination of factors, including a sense of shared history, values, and culture, as well as extensive and long-established cooperation on a wide range of foreign policy and security issues. In the minds of many Americans, the UK’s strong role in Iraq and Afghanistan during the past decade reinforced an impression of closeness and solidarity.
The 2010 UK election resulted in the country’s first coalition government since the Second World War. The Conservative Party won the most votes in the election, and Conservative leader David Cameron became prime minister. To command a parliamentary majority, however, the Conservatives were compelled to partner with the Liberal Democrats, who came in third place, and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg became deputy prime minister. The Labour Party, now led by Ed Miliband, moved into opposition after leading the UK government since 1997.
Economic and fiscal issues have been the central domestic challenge facing the coalition thus far.
Seeking to reduce the country’s budget deficit and national debt, the coalition adopted a five-year austerity program early in its tenure. With a double-dip recession in 2012 and low growth forecasts, the government has been maintaining its austerity strategy under considerable pressure and criticism. Austerity has also heightened social tensions and contributed to rising political friction between the coalition partners. Although the coalition arrangement went smoothly during its first year, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have subsequently disagreed about a series of domestic issues, including a number of proposed changes to the country’s political system.
Europe has been another source of tension. The UK has long been one of the most skeptical and ambivalent members of the 27-country European Union (EU). While the Conservative Party remains a stronghold of “euro-skeptics,” the Liberal Democrats are the UK’s most pro-EU political party. The Eurozone crisis has deepened British antipathy toward the EU, fueling calls to reclaim national sovereignty over issues where decision-making has been pooled and integrated in Brussels. Some analysts believe that a British departure from the EU is a growing possibility; Prime Minister Cameron intends to renegotiate some of the terms of membership and put the UK’s relationship with the EU to a national referendum in 2017. Adding another note of uncertainty to the British political landscape, Scotland plans to hold a referendum in September 2014 on whether to separate from the UK and become an independent country.
In recent years, some observers have suggested that the U.S.-UK relationship is losing relevance due to changing U.S. foreign policy priorities and shifting global dynamics. An imbalance of power in favor of the United States has occasionally led some British observers to call for a reassessment of their country’s approach to the relationship. Despite such anxieties, most analysts believe that the two countries will remain close allies that choose to cooperate on many important global issues such as counterterrorism, the NATO mission in Afghanistan, efforts to curb Iran’s nuclear activities, and global economic challenges.
Given its role as a close U.S. ally and partner, developments in the UK and its relations with the United States are of continuing interest to the U.S. Congress. This report provides an overview and assessment of some of the main dimensions of these topics. For a broader analysis of transatlantic relations, see CRS Report RS22163, The United States and Europe: Current Issues , by Derek E. Mix.
Source: Chatham House
In a move that is likely to prove expensive for motorists and consumers, the UK government, on 15 April, is set to increase its target for biofuel use to 5 per cent of transport fuels.
But new research from Chatham House estimates that as this target is reached, biofuels will cost UK motorists in the region of £460 million in the coming year. This figure represents the increased cost of fuel from higher prices at the pump and the need to fill-up the car more often because biofuels have lower energy content. Further increases to comply with EU biofuels targets mean that this could triple to around £1.3 billion a year by 2020.
The report, The Trouble with Biofuels, by Rob Bailey, argues that this does not represent good value for money. Biofuels are an expensive way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – the research found that typically the cost of emissions reductions from biofuels are several times what the government has identified as an appropriate price to pay.
Expanding biofuel use is also leading to higher food prices. This has damaging implications for food security in poor countries and is also likely to contribute to higher emissions, as farmers respond to higher prices by expanding production, sometimes into rainforest. After incorporating these ‘indirect emission’ effects, the analysis found that biofuels produced from vegetable oils are likely to be worse for the climate than fossil fuels.
Source: RAND Corporation
This work examines what happened in April of 1961, when the French government was about to conduct the fourth of a series of nuclear tests in the Sahara. Four French Army generals, unhappy that de Gaulle was willing to support Algerian independence, staged a coup to keep Algeria as a French colony. The nuclear test was conducted a few days ahead of schedule — it was not successful — and speculation ever since has been that the test was moved up to keep the weapon out of the rebel generals’ hands.
While there is evidence that one of the generals contacted the officer who was in charge of the tests to try to delay them, Jenkins concludes that the generals really never had a plan in place to seize the weapon and that the French government didn’t want to delay the test. At the time it happened, the world viewed it as an internal, French problem.
The second, shorter part of the book compares the 1961 events to what might happen today if the military in Pakistan or North Korea splintered, and a rebel group got their hands on those countries’ nuclear materials. Jenkins contends that such a scenario today would clearly be an international incident, that neither Pakistan nor North Korea would want any foreign intervention, and that the United States "might not be the only first responder."
Two additional short essays by Dr. Stephen J. Lukasik and Constantin Melnik, a security assistant to the French prime minister in 1961, also review what happened in 1961.
Source: European Commission
Welcome to issue 1 of the Review of Think Tank publications on EU affairs, compiled by the Central Library of the General Secretariat of the Council. The review provides abstracts and links to papers published in the previous month by think tanks in Brussels and elsewhere. It will be issued monthly and will be available on paper at the Central Library and online on our Intranet and Internet. It can be disseminated freely – the usual disclaimers apply.
Think tank publications in the first section deal with EU institutions and politics, with a focus on the crisis and its impact on European societies, and with perspectives from Brussels, Barcelona, Kiel, London, Davos, Prague and Rome. The UK relationship with the EU also attracted a lot of attention from the think tank community in January. Some see a connection between the UK-EU relationship and the role of Ireland, which recently took over the 6-month Presidency of the EU Council.
In the second section of this issue we present papers on external relations, with general reviews of the current state of EU foreign policy and specific views on the Arab Spring, Asia, Turkey, Russia, energy policy and others. With a view to the EU-Ukraine summit on 25 February, we devote this issue’s Special Focus to relations between the EU and Ukraine, gathering publications from the last 3-5 months.
A regular feature of the Review will be the Regards croisés section, where we highlight how a think tank in a Member State approaches developments in another Member State. This month, we look at how a Czech think tank assessed public discourse on the crisis in Poland and the Czech Republic.
In every issue we will draw a short profile of a think tank: this month we feature the Polish Ośrodek Studiów Wschodnich (OSW), with its coverage of the Eastern Europe and the Caucasus.
Source: Home Office
Publishing the annual report for CONTEST, the government’s strategy for countering terrorism, the Home Secretary set out what has been done to keep the country safe and prevent terror attacks, including during the Olympics.
Since 2005 there have been no mass casualty attacks in Great Britain. But a number of serious attempted attacks have been foiled. In the 12 months to September 2012, 45 people were charged with terrorism-related offences. The principal terrorist threat to the UK and our interests overseas continues to come from Al Qa’ida, its affiliates, other groups and lone terrorists. Achievements
Since the publication of CONTEST in July 2011, we delivered a safe and secure Olympic and Paralympic Games that will be remembered as a spectacular sporting event.
Other achievements included:
- implementing a new Prevent strategy
- improving security arrangements at the border
- strengthening our capability to respond to ‘Mumbai-style’ terror attacks involving firearms.
Source: European Commission
The European Commission today took the first step towards developing a 2030 framework for EU climate change and energy policies. It adopted a Green Paper which launches a public consultation on the content of the 2030 framework. The Commission also published a Consultative Communication on the future of carbon capture and storage (CCS) in Europe, aimed at initiating a debate on the options available to ensure its timely development. Finally, the Commission adopted a report assessing Member States’ progress towards their 2020 renewable energy targets and reports on the sustainability of biofuels and bioliquids consumed in the EU.
Source: Health and Environment Alliance
How is coal pollution making us sick? A new report launched on 7 March 2013 by the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) aims to provide an overview of the scientific evidence of how air pollution impacts health and how emissions from coal power plants are implicated in this. It presents the first-ever economic assessment of the health costs associated with air pollution from coal power plants in Europe as well as testimonies from leading health advocates, medical experts and policy makers on why they are concerned about coal.
The report develops recommendations for policy-makers and the health community on how to address the unpaid health bill and ensure that it is taken into account in future energy decisions.
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
Europe as a major energy consumer faces a number of challenges when addressing future energy needs. Among these challenges are rapidly rising global demand and competition for energy resources from emerging economies such as China and India, persistent instability in energy producing regions such as the Middle East, a fragmented internal European energy market, and a growing need to shift fuels in order to address climate change policy. As a result, energy supply security has become a key concern for European nations and the European Union (EU).
A key element of the EU’s energy supply strategy has been to shift to a greater use of natural gas. Europe as a whole is a major importer of natural gas. Russia is Europe’s most important natural gas supplier, accounting for 36% of Europe’s natural gas imports. Europe’s natural gas consumption is projected to grow while its own domestic natural gas production continues to decline. If trends continue as projected, Europe’s dependence on Russia as a supplier is likely to grow. And, while it could be in Europe’s interest to explore alternative sources for its natural gas needs, it is uncertain whether Europe as a whole can, or is willing to, replace a significant level of imports of Russian natural gas. Some European countries that feel vulnerable to potential Russian energy supply manipulation may work harder to achieve diversification than others.
Russia has not been idle when it comes to protecting its share of the European natural gas market. Moscow, including the state-controlled company Gazprom, has attempted to stymie Europeanbacked alternatives to pipelines it controls by proposing competing pipeline projects and attempting to co-opt European companies by offering them stakes in those and other projects. It has attempted to dissuade potential suppliers (especially those in Central Asia) from participating in European-supported plans. Moscow has also raised environmental concerns in an apparent effort to hinder other alternatives to its supplies, such as unconventional natural gas.
Successive U.S. administrations and Congresses have viewed European energy security as a U.S. national interest. Promoting diversification of Europe’s natural gas supplies, especially in recent years through the development of a southern corridor of gas from the Caspian region as an alternative to Russian natural gas, has been a focal point of U.S. energy policy in Europe and Eurasia. The George W. Bush Administration viewed the issue in geopolitical terms and sharply criticized Russia for using energy supplies as a political tool to influence other countries. The Obama Administration has also called for diversification, but has refrained from openly expressing concerns about Russia’s regional energy policy, perhaps in order to avoid jeopardizing the “reset” of ties with Moscow. Nevertheless, although supplying natural gas to Europe from the Caspian Region and Central Asia has been a goal of multiple U.S. administrations and the EU, it is far from being achieved in volumes significant to counter Russian exports.
This report focuses on potential approaches that Europe might employ to diversify its sources of natural gas supply, Russia’s role in Europe’s natural gas policies, and key factors that could hinder efforts to develop alternative suppliers of natural gas. The report assesses the potential suppliers of natural gas to Europe and the short- to medium-term hurdles needed to be overcome for those suppliers to be credible, long-term providers of natural gas to Europe. The report looks at North Africa, potentially the most realistic supply alternative in the near-term, but notes that the region will have to resolve its current political, economic, and security instability as well as the internal structural changes to the natural gas industry. Central Asia, which may have the greatest amounts of natural gas, would need to construct lengthy pipelines through multiple countries to move its natural gas to Europe.
Source: PLoS ONE
Surveys in various countries suggest 17% to 80% of doctors prescribe ‘placebos’ in routine practice, but prevalence of placebo use in UK primary care is unknown.
We administered a web-based questionnaire to a representative sample of UK general practitioners. Following surveys conducted in other countries we divided placebos into ‘pure’ and ‘impure’. ‘Impure’ placebos are interventions with clear efficacy for certain conditions but are prescribed for ailments where their efficacy is unknown, such as antibiotics for suspected viral infections. ‘Pure’ placebos are interventions such as sugar pills or saline injections without direct pharmacologically active ingredients for the condition being treated. We initiated the survey in April 2012. Two reminders were sent and electronic data collection closed after 4 weeks.
We surveyed 1715 general practitioners and 783 (46%) completed our questionnaire. Our respondents were similar to those of all registered UK doctors suggesting our results are generalizable. 12% (95% CI 10 to 15) of respondents used pure placebos while 97% (95% CI 96 to 98) used impure placebos at least once in their career. 1% of respondents used pure placebos, and 77% (95% CI 74 to 79) used impure placebos at least once per week. Most (66% for pure, 84% for impure) respondents stated placebos were ethical in some circumstances.
Conclusion and implications
Placebo use is common in primary care but questions remain about their benefits, harms, costs, and whether they can be delivered ethically. Further research is required to investigate ethically acceptable and cost-effective placebo interventions.
See: 97 Percent of UK Doctors Have Given Placebos to Patients at Least Once (Science Daily)
Source: European Commission
The Commission is today able to report about some success in its strategy to fight global trade barriers. The efforts of the European Commission to fight protectionism over the last year bear fruit and could create better trade and investment conditions for EU companies. Yet the struggle against protectionism continues. The resistance of Europe’s strategic partners to the plea for open markets comes into the limelight in the European Commission’s third annual Trade and Investment Barriers Report published today. In particular, China, India, Mercosur and Russia do not escape criticism.
According to the report, the European Commission in 2012 achieved progress towards eliminating some of the most trade distortive barriers hindering global activities of EU companies:
- The EU victory in the WTO case against China on access to raw materials brings to an end a fundamental disadvantage affecting the competitiveness of the European industries;
- Many years of difficult negotiations over the Russian accession to the WTO resulted last year in the significant lowering of import duties;
- EU trade diplomacy made progress toward the opening of the Indian market to EU telecommunication equipment, tyres and steel products. The bilateral discussions conducted with Japan are making it easier for EU producers of liquor, beef meat and processed foods to respond to the Japanese appetite.
Yet not all of the 25 key trade and investment barriers identified by the European Commission last year could be satisfactorily addressed. Several long-standing obstacles, together with a number of new trade-distortive measures taken by our partners in 2012, still stand in the way of European companies looking for markets outside the EU.
Source: European Union
Europe’s success in securing and upholding passenger rights is one of the resounding achievements of EU transport policy. The EU’s Air Passenger Rights Regulation 261/20041 came into force in February 2005 establishing minimum levels of assistance and compensation for passengers denied boarding or affected by long delays or cancellations.
The new rules have resulted in a significant change in behaviour in the airline industry, in particular reducing the use of denied boarding and commercial cancellations by airlines (with all the disruption that this causes for passengers) as ensuring overall a much fairer treatment for passengers when they travel.
The application of the EU passenger rights rules has constantly improved in the eight years since its entry into force, however, today a point has been reached where the limits of non-legislative action (such as guidelines and voluntary agreements) have been reached and where a revision of the legislation itself is necessary to ensure that passenger rights work in practice as they should.
Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)
Road traffic crashes are a global public health problem, contributing to an estimated 1.3 million deaths annually (1). Known risk factors for road traffic crashes and related injuries and deaths include speed, alcohol, nonuse of restraints, and nonuse of helmets. More recently, driver distraction has become an emerging concern (2). To assess the prevalence of mobile device use while driving in Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States, CDC analyzed data from the 2011 EuroPNStyles and HealthStyles surveys. Prevalence estimates for self-reported talking on a cell phone while driving and reading or sending text or e-mail messages while driving were calculated. This report describes the results of that analysis, which indicated that, among drivers ages 18–64 years, the prevalence of talking on a cell phone while driving at least once in the past 30 days ranged from 21% in the UK to 69% in the United States, and the prevalence of drivers who had read or sent text or e-mail messages while driving at least once in the past 30 days ranged from 15% in Spain to 31% in Portugal and the United States. Lessons learned from successful road safety efforts aimed at reducing other risky driving behaviors, such as seat belt nonuse and alcohol-impaired driving, could be helpful to the United States and other countries in addressing this issue (2,3). Strategies such as legislation combined with high-visibility enforcement and public education campaigns deserve further research to determine their effectiveness in reducing mobile device use while driving. Additionally, the role of emerging vehicle and mobile communication technologies in reducing distracted driving–related crashes should be explored.