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Unemployment in the EU [What Think Tanks are thinking]

June 30, 2015 Comments off

Unemployment in the EU [What Think Tanks are thinking]
Source: European Parliament Think Tank

Unemployment in the euro zone and the whole European Union has been inching down for many months, adding to signs of economic recovery, but remains well above levels recorded before the start of the financial crisis in 2008. The seasonally-adjusted euro area unemployment rate was 11.1 percent in April 2015 down from 11.7 percent in the same month last year. The EU-28 rate was 9.7 percent in April 2015, compared with 10.3 percent in April 2014. There are significant differences among member states in the jobless rate, which was 4.7 percent in Germany in April 2015 and 25.4 percent in Greece. The slow decline in current unemployment levels and the fact that, even before the crisis, unemployment was much higher in the EU than in many other regions of the world are attributed by some economists to certain labour market issues. High joblessness, especially among young people, is now considered a major social and economic problem, prompting calls for reform. Boosting what is the still sluggish economic growth and increasing the number of jobs are a key priority for European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. This note highlights a selection of commentaries and studies by major international think tanks and research institutes on labour market issues, with hyperlinks to the texts concerned.

EU Council Library Think Tank Review — June 2015

June 25, 2015 Comments off

EU Council Library Think Tank Review — June 2015 (PDF)
Source: General Secretariat of the Council of the EU (Central Library)

Among the immediate concerns, think tank papers reflected international and national events which took place in May: on the Eastern Partnership summit in Riga we gathered papers from Latvia, Hungary, Austria and Poland. Still on Poland, we noted the briefing on the presidential ballot, part of the regular Election Monitor published by the Fondation Robert Schuman. The release in May of the Commission’s package on Better Regulation also triggered commentary by Brussels-based think tanks (here for the state of play in a recent Council document).

Still in May, ILO published its employment and social outlook, which can be read in conjunction with the many publications we gathered on welfare, pensions and employment; while some of them surveyed policies or stakeholder opinions across Member States, others (like those from IAI and CEPS) set out possible schemes for a European Unemployment Insurance.

On a longer perspective, we found think tanks in Barcelona, Berlin, Brussels and elsewhere looking back at the European elections in 2014 and forward to 2019, with stances that range from ‘business as usual’ to seeing the EP as the possible driver of EU reform. Still on the European Parliament, we noted the analysis by votewatch.eu on the reform of copyright law, in the wake of recent proposals on the Digital Single Market.

Health Literacy And The Role Of Technology In Europe

June 24, 2015 Comments off

Health Literacy And The Role Of Technology In Europe
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

Developments in science and technology give access to much health-related information we could not have imagined a few years ago – but are we sufficiently health-literate to take responsibility for our own health, as well as that of our family and community? On 1 July 2015, the Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) Panel of the European Parliament will host a workshop entitled Health Literacy in Europe. Empowering patients – how can technology contribute to improving health literacy?, which will seek an answer to this and many other questions. The workshop will be chaired by Dr Paul Rübig, STOA Chair. Karin Kadenback, MEP and member of the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI), will close the even

Health literacy, according to a widely-accepted definition, is ‘linked to literacy and entails people’s knowledge, motivation and competences to access, understand, appraise and apply health information in order to make judgements, and take decisions in everyday life concerning health care, disease prevention and health promotion to maintain or improve quality of life during the life course’. However, the health literacy concept is much broader than this, and includes interesting fields of application for new technologies.

Technological improvements raise new challenges, as well as opportunities to achieve health literacy.

Questions and answers on how the European Commission helps refugees

June 23, 2015 Comments off

Questions and answers on how the European Commission helps refugees
Source: European Commission

Refugees are among the most vulnerable in humanitarian crises. This is why the European Commission provides substantial resources to help them. The European Commission gave more than €854 million or some 70% of its annual humanitarian aid budget in 2014 to projects helping refugees and IDPs in 33 countries worldwide. The European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) invests heavily in assisting displaced people and is currently responding to crises such as: Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq, Afghan refugees in Iran and Pakistan, Somali refugees in Kenya and Yemen, Congolese refugees in the Great Lake region, Colombian refugees in Ecuador and Venezuela, Myanmar refugees in Thailand, Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and Sahrawi refugees.

EU — Into the Mainstream: Rethinking Public Services for Diverse and Mobile Populations

June 22, 2015 Comments off

Into the Mainstream: Rethinking Public Services for Diverse and Mobile Populations
Source: Migration Policy Institute

Amid rapid economic and social diversification of Europe’s urban areas, the concept of “mainstreaming” immigrant integration—the idea that integration policy requires a whole-of-government approach and a shift away from group-targeted policies—has swept through policy circles and become embedded in policy parlance at the highest levels. Despite its intuitive appeal, however, few agree on its precise definition.

The ethos of mainstreaming can provide a guiding force for governments seeking to reform public services to meet the needs of diverse populations, but in practice remains problematic due to widespread differences in uses across different countries and contexts. Furthermore, mainstreaming has not been rigorously tested on the ground, and it is not clear whether it is well understood outside integration circles or whether it is helping or hindering policymakers as they design public services to accommodate mobility and diversity.

In response to these trends, the UPSTREAM Project sought to examine how governments at all levels are contending with new integration challenges and whether this can be described as a move toward the “mainstreaming” of integration policies. Building on previous research, this project represented the first systematic attempt to analyze how mainstreaming was being developed at the local level, and how its prinicples were being applied within mainstream settings such as schools.

This final report is a synthesis of the five country case studies from the UPSTREAM Project—France, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and the United Kingdom—plus research at the European Union level. It examines how the five countries and the European Commission are employing the idea of mainstreaming, and whether it has helped improve how public services address mobility and diversity. It then highlights promising practices in the fields of education and social cohesion policy, and concludes with a discussion of the role of the European Union within this debate, arguing for a more coherent approach to integration that takes account of the continuum of integration needs.

Foreign Intelligence Gathering Laws

June 19, 2015 Comments off

Foreign Intelligence Gathering Laws
Source: Law Library of Congress

This report contains information on laws regulating the collection of intelligence in the European Union, United Kingdom, France, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, and Sweden. The report details how EU Members States control activities of their intelligence agencies and what restrictions are imposed on information collection. All EU Member States follow EU legislation on personal data protection, which is a part of the common European Union responsibility.

Water Legislation : Cost Of Non-Europe Report

June 19, 2015 Comments off

Water Legislation : Cost Of Non-Europe Report
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

This ‘Cost of Non-Europe’ study examines the state of implementation of current EU Water Legislation and identifies the cost of the lack of further European action in this field.

The assessment made of existing water legislation confirms that there are still implementation gaps and areas of poor performance. The subsequent examination of five case studies, where it was believed that a significant potential exists for further EU action, served to demonstrate that there are several barriers which hinder the achievement of the goals set in the legislation. More European action would accordingly be necessary to limit the impact on Europe’s water quality of flooding or of pharmaceutical residues. To limit the use of fresh water more generally, there is a need for European coordination to increase the use of water-efficient equipment and water-metering.

This research makes a cautious estimate that the benefits of full implementation of existing legislation could reach 2.8 billion euro per year. The study also demonstrates that further European action in this field could provide further added value, representing a ‘cost of non-Europe’ of some 25 billion euro per year.

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