Human conflict, geopolitical crises, terrorist attacks, and natural disasters can turn large parts of energy distribution networks offline. Europe’s current gas supply network is largely dependent on deliveries from Russia and North Africa, creating vulnerabilities to social and political instabilities. During crises, less delivery may mean greater congestion, as the pipeline network is used in ways it has not been designed for. Given the importance of the security of natural gas supply, we develop a model to handle network congestion on various geographical scales. We offer a resilient response strategy to energy shortages and quantify its effectiveness for a variety of relevant scenarios. In essence, Europe’s gas supply can be made robust even to major supply disruptions, if a fair distribution strategy is applied.
Job Tasks, Computer Use, and the Decreasing Part-Time Pay Penalty for Women in the UK (PDF)
Source: Institute for the Study of Labor
Using data from the UK Skills Surveys, we show that the part-time pay penalty for female workers within low- and medium-skilled occupations decreased significantly over the period 1997-2006. The convergence in computer use between part-time and full-time workers within these occupations explains a large share of the decrease in the part-time pay penalty. However, the lower part-time pay penalty is also related to lower wage returns to reading and writing which are performed more intensively by full-time workers. Conversely, the increasing returns to influencing has increased the part-time pay penalty despite the convergence in the influencing task input between part-time and full-time workers. The relative changes in the input and prices of computer use and job tasks together explain more than 50 percent of the decrease in the part-time pay penalty.
Mapping the European ICT Poles of Excellence: The Atlas of ICT Activity in Europe
Source: European Commission
The EIPE Atlas presents the results of the empirical mapping of ICT activity in Europe and the ranking of the top European NUTS 3 regions based on their performance in EIPE Composite Indicator (EIPE CI), together with the ranks for the individual 42 indicators which contributed to the building of the EIPE composite indicators. The report offers a snapshot of the performance of regions that are identified as the main locations of ICT activity in Europe. It is meant to provide a comprehensive picture of how ICT activity is distributed across Europe and where its main locations are. This information is expected to give a better overview of the European ICT landscape, activity and actors in each location and to reveal their strengths and weaknesses.
In the EU28, 10 million part-timers are underemployed…and 11 million persons considered as a potential additional labour force
The EU28 population aged 15 to 74 can be classified into three groups: in 2013, these were 216.4 million persons in employment, 26.2 million unemployed and 137.2 million economically inactive. Among those in employment, 43.7 million were part-time workers, of which 9.9 million (23% of part-time workers) are underemployed, meaning they wished to work more hours and were available to do so.
Among the economically inactive population (those persons neither employed nor unemployed), there were 9.3 million persons aged 15 to 74 available to work, but not seeking2 and 2.2 million seeking work, but not available in the EU28 in 2013. While not part of the economically active population, both groups have a certain attachment to the labour market and could be considered as a potential additional labour force of 11.5 million persons, equivalent to 4.7% of the labour force.
Catching Up: The Labor Market Outcomes of New Immigrants in Sweden
Source: Migration Policy Institute
The considerable diversity among Sweden’s immigrants reflects a humanitarian migration policy. Refugees have arrived in the country since the 1970s and 1980s, with their countries of origin shifting according to the ethnic and political conflicts of any given period. Sweden is also a longstanding magnet for labor migration from surrounding Scandinavia, and has attracted mobile EU citizens since its entry into the European Union in 1995—and especially following the EU enlargements of 2004 and 2007. Sweden’s immigration flows continue to change today, as policy reforms in 2008 allowed employers to bring non-EU labor migrants to the country for the first time in decades.
This report assesses how new immigrants to Sweden fare in the country’s labor market. The report is part of a series of six case studies on labor market outcomes among immigrants to European Union countries.
The U.K.’s Ambitious New Retirement Savings Initiative
Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College
The brief’s key findings are:
- The United Kingdom is rolling out a low-cost retirement system for workers who lack pension coverage.
- The new system has three core elements:
- Employers auto-enroll their workers at a 4-percent contribution rate, matched by the employer and government combined.
- A new non-profit provides the infrastructure to keep costs low.
- The plans’ target date funds start young workers with low-risk investments to avoid losses that could discourage saving.
- The U.S.’s new “myRA” program includes two similar design features – low-risk investments and government infrastructure – but it lacks auto-enrollment.
Emerging Arctic Explored in New CFR InfoGuide
Source: Council on Foreign Relations
The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) has released a new interactive guide examining the economic opportunities and environmental risks emerging in the Arctic. Climate change, technological advances, and a growing demand for natural resources are driving a new era of development in the Arctic region. Many experts assert that Arctic summers could be free of sea ice in a matter of decades, opening the region up to hundreds of billions of dollars in investment, most notably in energy production and shipping.
Preliminary Opinion of the European Data Protection Supervisor — Privacy and competitiveness in the age of big data: The interplay between data protection, competition law and consumer protection in the Digital Economy
Privacy and competitiveness in the age of big data: The interplay between data protection, competition law and consumer protection in the Digital Economy (PDF)
Source: European Data Protection Supervisor
EU approaches to data protection, competition and consumer protection share common goals, including the promotion of growth, innovation and the welfare of individual consumers. In practice, however, collaboration between policy-makers in these respective fields is limited.
Online services are driving the huge growth in the digital economy. Many of those services are marketed as ‘free’ but in effect require payment in the form of personal information from customers. An investigation into the costs and benefits of these exchanges for both consumers and businesses is now overdue.
Closer dialogue between regulators and experts across policy boundaries can not only aid enforcement of rules on competition and consumer protection, but also stimulate the market for privacy-enhancing services.
New GAO Report
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Ballistic Missile Defense: Actions Needed to Address Implementation Issues and Estimate Long-Term Costs for European Capabilities. GAO-14-314, April 11.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662493.pdf
Beyond the adoption order: challenges, intervention, disruption
Source: Department for Education
Research looking at adoption disruptions and how the adoption system can be improved.
Policy Paper: International classified information
Source: Cabinet Office
This document sets out:
- how the UK protects international classified information provided to government
- how the government can exchange UK classified information with international partners
- the various roles and responsibilities of UK government departments, agencies and contractors
The future of public health: A horizon scan
Source: RAND Corporation
Public Health England (PHE) commissioned RAND Europe to undertake a horizon scanning study exploring the future of public health and related scientific services. This work was intended to help inform thinking at the strategic level within PHE, firstly in relation to the wider vision of the Agency (which was only established in April 2013) and, secondly, in relation to the proposals for the creation of an integrated public health science hub.
The report is based on a literature review, a brief Delphi exercise using the ExpertLens platform and key informant interviews with a range of PHE staff and external experts. It focuses on the different future public health science needs and the extent to which an integrated science hub could serve PHE as it evolves over the next twenty years. Thus, the report considers PHE’s future remit and objectives in order that decisions about an integrated and co-located science hub be made in context and with reference to expert perceptions about the future.
Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via University of North Texas Digital Library)
The diminishment of Arctic sea ice has led to increased human activities in the Arctic, and has heightened interest in, and concerns about, the region’s future. The United States, by virtue of Alaska, is an Arctic country and has substantial interests in the region. On May 10, 2013, the Obama Administration released a national strategy document for the Arctic region. On January 30, 2014, the Obama Administration released an implementation plan for this strategy.
Record low extents of Arctic sea ice over the past decade have focused scientific and policy attention on links to global climate change and projected ice-free seasons in the Arctic within decades. These changes have potential consequences for weather in the United States, access to mineral and biological resources in the Arctic, the economies and cultures of peoples in the region, and national security.
Trade Barriers that U.S. SMEs Perceive as Affecting Exports to the EU
Source: U.S. International Trade Commission
Standards and a variety of other trade barriers in the European Union disproportionately affect the exports of U.S. small and medium-sized enterprises more than those of large firms, reports the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) in its new publication Trade Barriers that U.S. Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Perceive as Affecting Exports to the European Union.
The USITC, an independent, nonpartisan, factfinding federal agency, completed the report for the U.S. Trade Representative.
As requested, the report catalogs trade-related barriers that U.S. small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and related industry associations reported as limiting their exports to the European Union (EU). Highlights of the report follow.
SMEs explained that many EU trade barriers, particularly those related to standards and regulations, affect their exports. They stated that complying with EU regulations and procedures are costly for all firms, but potentially prohibit SMEs from exporting to the EU because such costs are often the same regardless of a firm’s size or export revenue. Other difficulties that were cited include protection of trade secrets, high patenting costs, and logistics challenges, especially customs requirements, inconsistent Harmonized System classifications, and the EU’s value-added tax system.
- SMEs and related industry associations described many industry-specific barriers. For example:
- SMEs in the chemical industry frequently cited the high cost of complying with the EU chemical regulation (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals or REACH).
- SMEs exporting cosmetics expressed difficulties meeting the EU’s cosmetics directive.
- SME clothing exporters said that they were disproportionately affected by the recent EU retaliatory additional duties on U.S. exports of women’s denim jeans.
- SMEs producing machinery, electronic, transportation, and other goods cited a lack of harmonized international standards and mutual recognition for conformity assessment, as well as problems complying with technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures.
A number of barriers reportedly constrain U.S. exports of agricultural products. SMEs and industry groups in the corn, dried fruit, animal feed, cheese, and wheat industries cited high tariffs, stringent and inconsistent EU rules and testing mandates, lack of a science-based regulatory focus (especially for genetically modified traits), lack of harmonization between U.S. and EU standards, and the EU’s protected designations of origin (PDOs). The U.S. poultry and lamb industries reported that they are effectively banned from exporting to the EU.
U.S. services SMEs in the healthcare, engineering, testing, and audiovisual industries highlighted a lack of mutual recognition of licensing, credentials, and standards, as well as issues with broadcasting and film quotas, language dubbing requirements, government subsidies, and safeguarding intellectual property.
In certain industries, SMEs or industry associations also provided suggestions for increasing U.S. SME transatlantic trade with the EU and, at times, stories of successfully exporting to the EU.
Bureaucratic Interests and the Outsourcing of Security: The Privatization of Diplomatic Protection in the United States and the United Kingdom
Bureaucratic Interests and the Outsourcing of Security: The Privatization of Diplomatic Protection in the United States and the United Kingdom (working paper version; PDF)
Source: Armed Forces & Society
In spite of its sensitivity, diplomatic protection has received very sporadic scholarly attention. This article provides a comparative analysis of US and UK diplomatic security policies, focusing on the increasing use of private military and security companies (PMSCs) for the protection of foreign service and development agencies’ personnel. The existing theoretical explanations of the privatization of security tasks cannot explain why countries displaying similar material incentives and similar political and market cultures have outsourced diplomatic protection to different degrees, nor can they account for variance in the use of PMSCs by different agencies within the same country. Our analysis highlights the importance of investigating organizations’ interests in providing a more accurate explanation of the varying propensity to outsource armed protection. In both the United States and the United Kingdom, the outsourcing of diplomatic security was a resultant of foreign policy bureaucracies and military organizations’ preferences.
Hourly labour costs ranged from €3.7 to €40.1 across the EU28 Member States in 2013 (PDF)
In 2013, average hourly labour costs in the whole economy (excluding agriculture and public administration) were estimated to be €23.7 in the EU283 and €28.4 in the euro area (EA17). However, this average masks significant differences between EU Member States, with the lowest hourly labour costs recorded in Bulgaria (€3.7), Romania (€4.6), Lithuania (€6.2) and Latvia (€6.3), and the highest in Sweden (€40.1), Denmark (€38.4), Belgium (€38.0), Luxembourg (€35.7) and France (€34.3).
Ukraine: Current Issues and U.S. Policy (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service
After a failed effort to violently disperse pro-European Union protests, the government of President Viktor Yanukovych collapsed on February 21, 2014. He fled from Kyiv, as did many of his supporters, and protestors took over Kyiv. The Ukrainian parliament approved a new proreform, pro-Western government on February 27. The parliament has scheduled new presidential elections for May 25, 2014. Russia has condemned the new government in Kyiv as illegitimate and responded by sending troops to seize Ukraine’s Crimea region. Ignoring U.S. and international condemnation, Russia annexed Crimea on March 18. Ukrainian officials charge that Russia is also trying to stir unrest in eastern and southern Ukraine, where many Russian-speakers live, perhaps in order to provide a pretext for an invasion of those regions.
Ukraine’s new government faces serious economic problems. Ukraine has long-standing problems in attracting foreign investment, in part due to rampant corruption and other shortcomings in the rule of law. In the near term, the government’s dwindling foreign exchange reserves have raised the prospect of a default on sovereign debt later this year, unless the government can secure new loans quickly.