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EU Council Library Think Tank Review — January 2015

January 27, 2015 Comments off

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

Strong focus on Member States in the think tank papers selected for this TTR. A CEPS author wonders whether a new balance of power will emerge in the Council after the entry into force last November, of new QMV rules (other background on our library’s blog, and from our colleagues at EPRS). In a similar vein, the German DGAP publishes a report on patterns of coalition-building among Member States. The notion of ‘balance of powers’ is central to one of the papers chosen for this month’s regards croisés: a Czech view on the change in the relative weight of France and Germany in EU politics.

Still on Member States, a fundamental concern is, arguably, their territorial integrity. A new analysis by Real Instituto Elcano, departing from many others we have seen so far, takes the view that the EU should insert an anti-secession clause in the treaties. We also feature a review of the proposals for further tax devolution to Scotland. Just as we finalize this TTR, the UK Government has published a draft legislation on ‘an enduring settlement’ with Scotland.

As readers know, we are particularly interested in projects where think tanks join forces. In this issue we include a report by the 40-member OSCE Network of Think Tanks and Academic Institutions, with options for new forms of OSCE field operations.

Being a LGBTI person in African countries

January 26, 2015 Comments off

Being a LGBTI person in African countries
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

More than 4 African countries out of 5 of have laws criminalising homosexuality, or even punishing LGBTI rights advocacy. Only in 2014 tougher laws were passed in Nigeria, Gambia and Uganda.

As recent developments in Europe show, having non-discriminative laws doesn’t prevent homophobic feeling; but when this feeling is encouraged or not punished by the authorities, it can favour violence towards LGBTI people, including rapes and killings. Furthermore it leads LGBTI people to live in hiding which increases mental or physical health problems among the population.

On several occasions the European Parliament has reminded the EU of its commitment against all forms of discrimination in all the places it acts.

An overview of Europe’s film industry

January 26, 2015 Comments off

An overview of Europe’s film industry
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

In spite of the fact that Europe pioneered both technological and content innovation in cinema, at present the EU film landscape is characterised by the strong presence of Hollywood productions. In 2013, they held a share of nearly 70% of the EU market, while European productions represented only 26%. What makes the major US companies so powerful is the fact that they are vertically integrated, with activities spanning production and distribution, allowing them to spread risks over several films, and reinvest profits in new projects. To offset the financing challenges facing EU film companies, different types of film-support schemes have been set up, accounting in 2009 for an estimated €2.1 billion (excluding tax incentives and interventions by publicly funded banks and credit institutions).

Notwithstanding the ever-increasing presence of Hollywood majors, the European film industry is quite dynamic and encompasses over 75 000 companies, employing more than 370 000 people, and reaping some €60 billion in revenue in 2010. Within the EU, the ‘Big Five’ – France, Germany, United Kingdom, Italy and Spain – account for around 80% of releases, industry turnover, and persons employed.

Shale gas and EU energy security

January 22, 2015 Comments off

Shale gas and EU energy security
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

While the United States has abundant supplies of cheap gas thanks to the ‘shale revolution’, the EU remains dependent on gas imports. The Ukrainian crisis has given rise to increasing concerns about the security of the EU’s gas supply. At the request of the European Council, the European Commission has analysed the situation, and published a European Energy Security Strategy. Among other elements, the strategy focuses on increasing energy production in the EU and diversifying external supplies.

This briefing addresses the question whether, and to what extent, shale gas can contri­bute to European energy security. Some European regions have significant shale gas resources, but more exploration is needed to find out whether they can be developed commercially. Most analysts agree that shale gas in Europe will be more expensive than in the US, due to different geology and the need to address public acceptance and environmental impact. Shale gas will not resolve short-term energy security issues as exploration and development will take 5 to 15 years. In any case, the volumes produced will not make Europe self-sufficient in gas, but could help to reduce gas prices.

EU — Mass Surveillance – Part 1: Risks and opportunities raised by the current generation of network services and applications

January 22, 2015 Comments off

Mass Surveillance – Part 1: Risks and opportunities raised by the current generation of network services and applications
Source: European Parliament

This document identifies the risks of data breaches for users of publicly available Internet services such as email, social networks and cloud computing, and the possible impacts for them and the European Information Society. It presents the latest technology advances allowing the analysis of user data and their meta-data on a mass scale for surveillance reasons. It identifies technological and organisational measures and the key stakeholders for reducing the risks identified. Finally the study proposes possible policy options, in support of the risk reduction measures identified by the study.

See also: Mass Surveillance – Part 2: Technology foresight, options for longer term security and privacy improvements
See also: Mass Surveillance of IT users? (European Parliamentary Research Service)

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – Key Studies

January 21, 2015 Comments off

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – Key Studies
Source: European Parliament

This leaflet provides a compilation of papers prepared by the European Parliament’s Policy Departments in relation to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. The magnitude of the transatlantic economic exchange and the chance to boost growth and create jobs provided the initial impetus for launching talks on the TTIP. The EP has supported the negotiations while expressing caution about several sensitive issues. Papers produced by the Policy Departments have addressed these and other issues, including the potential implications on EU Member States, the US Congress’s view of the Partnership, and its impact on areas such as employment and agriculture.

Commission identifies the infrastructure priorities and investment needs for the Trans-European Transport Network until 2030

January 21, 2015 Comments off

Commission identifies the infrastructure priorities and investment needs for the Trans-European Transport Network until 2030
Source: European Commission

The European Commission has published nine studies on the state of play and the development needs of the TEN-T core network corridors. The studies have identified infrastructure development needs which represent approximately €700 billion of financial investment until 2030. They highlight the importance of optimising the use of infrastructure along the corridors, notably through intelligent transport systems, efficient management and the promotion of future-oriented clean transport solutions. This is the first time that tens of thousands kilometres of rail, road, inland waterway connections, ports, airports and other transport terminals have been studied in such a comprehensive way and with a common methodology.

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