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Archive for the ‘Gov – EU’ Category

EU — Security of the Internet, including e-Government, cloud computing and social networks

August 21, 2014 Comments off

Security of the Internet, including e-Government, cloud computing and social networks
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

As we become increasingly dependent on the internet for all aspects of our lives, how can Europe on the web work best while ensuring that everyone can trust online services?

STOA has examined the latest technological advances with regard to the internet and information technologies in Europe. STOA is the Science and Technology Options Assessment body,which provides independent scientific advice to the European Parliament.

Technology could help foster a European civil society and political sphere, particularly if the European institutions widened their e-participation efforts. This was the conclusion of the 2011 STOA study on ‘E-public, e-participation and e-voting in Europe’. The study did not currently recommend e-voting. However, technology could start addressing the perceived ‘democratic deficit’ in the European Union. The European institutions could broaden e-participation, involving citizens more in the legislative process and creating an ‘e-public’, a European political sphere, perhaps a basis for a shared sense of European citizenship.

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Parental child abduction within the EU

August 20, 2014 Comments off

Parental child abduction within the EU
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

The separation of parents is always a complicated and sensitive issue for the ex-partners and the child(ren). Citizens recurrently turn to the European Parliament asking for help in cases of alleged discrimination on grounds of nationality regarding parental authority or in cases of possible parental child abduction.

The number of bi-national marriages in the EU is constantly growing. When such a marriage breaks down the ex-partners often decide to return to their respective country of origin. If a couple has a child the situation can become very complicated. Frequently, once parents have separated, the parent who does not have custody of the child(ren) abducts them or refuses to send them back following an access visit. Another scenario is even more common: children are removed or retained by their primary carer, but without the permission of the other parent. This is in breach of the legal rights of the other parent and often leads to court proceedings.

In-work poverty in the EU

August 19, 2014 Comments off

In-work poverty in the EU
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

Having a job yet still being unable to make a living: In-work poverty is a phenomenon that affected 9,1 percent of the working age EU population in 2012. The rate of those in work and at risk of poverty has been on the rise since 2005. It applies to those with an income below 60% of the national median. In the aftermath of the crisis, wage polarisation and an increase of part-time work have led to higher rates of in-work poverty in Europe. At the same time, nearly a quarter of the overall EU population is facing the risk of poverty or exclusion.

Employment does not always protect from poverty. Whether a person is becoming “working poor” is decided by working status and household income. Analysts often see a combination of low pay, high needs and weak ties to the labour market as root causes. In general the risk is higher for single households (sole earners, especially women with dependent children), young workers and temporarily employed people as well as those with low levels of education. Paradoxically, men face a higher risk than women, even though women are more often in part-time employment with a lower salary. Yet women are more often secondary earners, meaning that the household income does not depend only on them.

The Added Value of EU policy on Mobile telephone roaming charges

August 12, 2014 Comments off

The Added Value of EU policy on Mobile telephone roaming charges
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

International roaming allows a customer of a mobile network operator in one country to obtain telephone services – whether voice, SMS or data – from an operator in another country. The service provider ensures that the consumer remains connected to a mobile network abroad whilst using the same mobile phone handset – or a laptop/tablet in case of data roaming – and the same telephone number as at home.

In the era before the emergence of an EU-level policy to increase competition in telecommunications, the European market in this field was largely dominated by a limited number of traditional players, often public-sector monopolies, and was characterised by a marked lack of regulatory coherence between member states. Telephone networks across Europe were limited to national boundaries, preventing effective competition. The cost of telephone calls was generally high – and mobile-phone roaming charges were especially high, to a degree strikingly unjustified by the actual cost incurred by the service provider. Such charges were, on average, three times as high as those for domestic phone calls.

With the initial liberalisation of the European mobile telecommunications sector in 1998, EU action was taken to increase competition between operators and to promote adoption of common GSM and UMTS standards. A gradual fall in prices followed, and innovative new products and services began to appear. Almost a decade later, in 2007, the EU institutions introduced specific caps on mobile roaming charges for the first time, and since then – in 2009, 2012 and 2013 – they have adopted further revisions, with the aim of cutting such charges further. The EU roaming regime applies in the 28 member states of the Union, together with the three other countries within the European Economic Area (EEA).

Twelve things everyone should know about the European Court of Justice

August 1, 2014 Comments off

Twelve things everyone should know about the European Court of Justice (PDF)
Source: Centre for European Reform

The EU is a legal animal. The Union differs from other international bodies such as the UN or the Council of Europe in that it produces binding legislation. Member-states have to transpose into national law the agreements they make in Brussels or face litigation from the European Commission. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) sits at the heart of this shared law-making system. Its rulings are faithfully applied in 28 countries, comprising the world’s largest economic area. Hence it is arguably the most powerful international court.

EU — Customs action to tackle goods infringing Intellectual Property Rights – Frequently Asked Questions

August 1, 2014 Comments off

Customs action to tackle goods infringing Intellectual Property Rights – Frequently Asked Questions
Source: European Commission

As the EU’s 2020 Strategy underlines, the protection of IPRs is key to the EU economy. By giving people the incentive to be creative and innovative, IPRs foster economic growth, creating and protecting millions of jobs.

Right-holders can ask for customs action to protect their rights at the border. When they have a suspicion of an infringement, customs can detain the goods or suspend their release and inform the right-holder accordingly. The right-holder is given the opportunity to initiate court proceedings to determine the infringement, while the goods remain under customs control.

EU — Fighting fraud: Major progress in anti-fraud policy but Member States must do more to combat fraud

July 31, 2014 Comments off

Fighting fraud: Major progress in anti-fraud policy but Member States must do more to combat fraud
Source: European Commission

Member States must step up their work to prevent, detect and report fraud affecting EU funds, according to the Commission’s annual report on the protection of financial interests (PIF report). The report sets out detailed recommendations on areas that national authorities should particularly focus on in this respect. The report finds that detected fraud in EU spending accounts for less than 0.2% of all funds. Nevertheless, the Commission believes that greater efforts at national level both on combatting and detecting fraud should be deployed. The annual PIF report therefore recommends, amongst other things, that Member States review their controls to ensure they are risk-based and well-targeted.

On the positive side, the report notes that good progress is being made at national level to implement new rules and policies which will strengthen the fight against fraud in the years ahead. Moreover, at EU level, the past 5 years have seen major advances in shaping a stronger anti-fraud landscape. These initiatives can have a marked impact on fraud levels, once they are fully implemented.

New report on state of EU Telecommunications markets

July 23, 2014 Comments off

New report on state of EU Telecommunications markets
Source: European Commission

Today the European Commission published a report on the telecommunications market and regulation in the EU. The report covers 2012 – 2013 years.

The main findings of the report:

  • Industry revenues again declined in 2013 but investment is beginning to grow;
  • Use of traditional telephony services is decreasing as internet (VoIP) services become increasingly popular;
  • Data traffic is growing quickly;
  • Mobile voice call and data prices are higher in the EU than in the US, while the usage of mobile is higher in the US, resulting in a higher ‘average revenue per user’ in the US.
  • Only Denmark, Germany, Latvia and Malta met the 2012 target for the authorisation of the specific spectrum bands. 21 Member States did eventually meet the target in 2013, but the delay in assignment of the 800 MHz band has significantly slowed the roll-out of 4G mobile across the EU.
  • The time needed to obtain permits to roll-out new networks ranges from a few days to years depending on where in the EU you are building the network. Most authorities still do not allow for electronic submission of requests.

EU — Fighting fraud: Major progress in anti-fraud policy but Member States must do more to combat fraud

July 18, 2014 Comments off

Fighting fraud: Major progress in anti-fraud policy but Member States must do more to combat fraud
Source: European Commission

Member States must step up their work to prevent, detect and report fraud affecting EU funds, according to the Commission’s annual report on the protection of financial interests (PIF report). The report sets out detailed recommendations on areas that national authorities should particularly focus on in this respect. The report finds that detected fraud in EU spending accounts for less than 0.2% of all funds. Nevertheless, the Commission believes that greater efforts at national level both on combatting and detecting fraud should be deployed. The annual PIF report therefore recommends, amongst other things, that Member States review their controls to ensure they are risk-based and well-targeted.

On the positive side, the report notes that good progress is being made at national level to implement new rules and policies which will strengthen the fight against fraud in the years ahead. Moreover, at EU level, the past 5 years have seen major advances in shaping a stronger anti-fraud landscape. These initiatives can have a marked impact on fraud levels, once they are fully implemented.

EU spending on renewable energy needs improvements to enhance its contribution to policy goals, say EU Auditors

July 10, 2014 Comments off

EU spending on renewable energy needs improvements to enhance its contribution to policy goals, say EU Auditors
Source: European Court of Auditors

EU spending on renewable energy needs improvements to enhance its contribution to policy goals, say EU Auditors.

A report published today by the European Court of Auditors (ECA) reveals that improvements are needed if EU funding is to make the maximum possible contribution to achieving the 2020 renewable energy target. The EU auditors examined whether funds in that period had been allocated to well prioritised, cost-effective and mature renewable energy generation projects with rational objectives and to what extent these funds had achieved good results in contributing to the EU 2020 target for energy from renewable sources.

+ Full Report (PDF)

In Pursuit of Health Equity: Comparing U.S. and EU Approaches to Eliminating Disparities

July 8, 2014 Comments off

In Pursuit of Health Equity: Comparing U.S. and EU Approaches to Eliminating Disparities
Source: Urban institute

Researchers compare and contrast the U.S. public policy approach to tackling the problem of health disparities with the European approach in this paper. They begin by providing an overview of the ways in which the issue of health disparities has been framed in American and European policy discourse. They next compare how health disparities have been addressed in policy statements produced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and by the European Commission, the executive body of the European Union. In so doing, they seek to illuminate implicit choices that stand to have a bearing on the outcomes of these initiatives.

EU — Student support crucial for offsetting impact of university tuition fees, says report

July 7, 2014 Comments off

Student support crucial for offsetting impact of university tuition fees, says report
Source: European Commission

When balanced with student support, increased tuition fees do not have an overall negative impact on enrolments in higher education, even among students from lower socio-economic groups, unless the magnitude of change is exceptional. However increases in fees can result in falling enrolments among older students, according to an international study released by the European Commission today. The report underlines that grants and/or loans are crucial for offsetting negative consequences of fees or fee rises on university enrolments, particularly from vulnerable groups.

The Commission-funded study, carried out by independent researchers, analysed the impact of changes in student fees in nine countries with different models of funding over the past 15 years (Austria, Canada, UK-England, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Portugal and South Korea).

EU — Think Tank Review — Issue 14/2014

June 30, 2014 Comments off

Think Tank Review — Issue 14/2014
Source: General Secretariat of the Council of the EU (Central Library)

The June Think Tank Review is out, referencing papers published in May 2014.

As could be expected, a large share of the think tank papers published last May were devoted to the European elections. We found analyses of rising parties, maps of the networks among anti-EU parties, assessments of the impact of the top candidates and views on social media in the campaign. Partly related to the elections, we also found several papers elaborating on surveys and opinion polls. In addition, most EU think tanks and the major political foundations had papers on the Banking Union compromise reached in March.

Among the other focal points this month: energy policy and gas supply, the 10th anniversary of the 2004 enlargement, and the UK relationship with the EU. On the latter, we note a project at the German Council on Foreign Relations with views from various Member States. Among the many papers on migration and asylum, we note a series of case studies on migrants’ outcome on national labour markets. In the external relations section, Ukraine features prominently once again, with many think tanks putting forward wide-ranging measures for the country, from deployment of a joint stabilization force to constitutionally-sanctioned neutrality.

EU — Social entrepreneurship: new standard to measure social impact

June 27, 2014 Comments off

Social entrepreneurship: new standard to measure social impact
Source: European Commission

A new standard to allow social enterprises of all sizes to better measure and demonstrate their social impact and so help them in their discussions with partners, investors, and public sector funders has been published by the European Commission. The standard, featured in a report on social impact measurement, will help European social enterprises to benefit from funding via the European Social Entrepreneurship Funds (EuSEF) and the new Employment and Social Innovation programme (EaSI). The report has been endorsed by an expert group on social entrepreneurship (GECES) set up by the Commission.

The report found that it was not possible to devise a rigid set of indicators in a top-down way to measure social impact in all cases. Instead, it proposes a standard for social impact measurement in five stages, which is flexible enough to be adapted to the needs of very different social enterprises.

The necessity for a standard for the measurement of social impact is important in terms of funding: the EaSI programme stipulates that social enterprises must demonstrate that they are focused on achieving measurable, positive social or societal impacts in order to benefit from support. The new EuSEFs (European Social Entrepreneurship Funds) also require social businesses seeking financing to measure their social impact.

The development of a standard should help to avoid the current duplication of costs due to the fact that there are different approaches, as well as encouraging best practice in the rapidly evolving field of social impact measurement.

EU – Employment: report shows lower skilled workers face increasing difficulties to find a job

June 25, 2014 Comments off

Employment: report shows lower skilled workers face increasing difficulties to find a job
Source: European Commission

Low-skilled workers encounter increasing difficulties to find a job, face lower job stability and are out-competed by medium-skilled workers even in elementary occupations. In contrast, job opportunities are growing in some high-skilled professions. These are the main findings of the European Vacancy and Recruitment Report 2014 published today. The report also highlights the increase in temporary and part-time work during the crisis and underlines the need to better support school-to-work transitions, to decrease segmentation of the labour markets and to up-skill jobseekers, particularly the low qualified.

Strengthening Refugee Protection and Meeting Challenges: The European Union’s Next Steps on Asylum

June 20, 2014 Comments off

Strengthening Refugee Protection and Meeting Challenges: The European Union’s Next Steps on Asylum
Source: Migration Policy Institute

While great progress has been made towards creation of a Common European Asylum System (CEAS) that establishes shared standards for refugee protection in the European Union (EU), important obstacles to its full and effective operation remain. The evolving global context of conflict and displacement, highlighted by the Syria crisis, failures by many States to protect their citizens, and mixed migration more broadly will continue to throw up new challenges in the asylum domain in the years ahead for the European Union and Member States, requiring robust systems and policies that can be adapted to meet them.

At the end of June 2014, the European Council, comprising the heads of state and government of the European Union’s 28 Member States, will adopt strategic guidelines for the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) area, including asylum. The guidelines, which will define the way forward on the JHA portfolio for the 2014-20 period, have the potential to offer clear direction for the further development of asylum policy and cooperation at the EU level. To achieve this, however, the guidelines will need to address key priorities in practical and principled terms, and accommodate widely differing perspectives among Member States, EU institutions, and other stakeholders. Looking beyond the guidelines, European policymakers will need to explore the ways in which these priorities can be translated into action. The Migration Policy Institute Europe and the International Migration Initiative of the Open Society Foundations, through their ongoing project on the future of asylum in the European Union, are examining a number of the current challenges as well as possible ways to address them.

EU — Environment: Commission launches new platform to help resolve social conflicts over large carnivores

June 13, 2014 Comments off

Environment: Commission launches new platform to help resolve social conflicts over large carnivores
Source: European Commission

Europe’s brown bear, wolf, wolverine, lynx – at least one of these species can now be found in 21 EU Member States. After a lengthy period of decline their numbers are growing once more, but coexistence with man can be problematic. In an effort to solve the social and economic problems that sometimes result from this new expansion, the European Commission has launched a platform where farmers, conservationists, hunters, landowners and scientists can exchange ideas and best practices on sharing the same land with large carnivores.

The EU Platform on Coexistence between People and Large Carnivores will support constructive dialogue between key stakeholder organisations at the European level. Launching the platform, EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: “We need to treat our natural neighbours with respect – but we also need to heed the concerns of those whose lives are genuinely affected by their close proximity. My warm congratulations to the organisations that have worked together to set up this important platform, which represents a major step forward in efforts to address the issue of peaceful coexistence.”

The European Union is home to five species of large carnivores. All suffered dramatic declines in numbers and distribution as a consequence of human activity, but increasing protection and public awareness about their vital role in healthy ecosystems have caused many populations to stabilize or increase, and to return to areas from which they had been absent for decades or even centuries.

While this recovery is seen by some as a great conservation success, it has not been without its opponents. The issue involves a diversity of stakeholders such as hunters, foresters, livestock producers, reindeer herders, landowners, rural communities, conservation organizations and the wider public. These groups are influenced by and perceive large carnivores in different ways, and in some cases these differences can be a source of conflict. The platform will facilitate exchanges of knowledge and promote ways and means to minimize, and wherever possible, find equitable solutions to these conflicts.

EU cultural diplomacy needs new impetus, says report

June 12, 2014 Comments off

EU cultural diplomacy needs new impetus, says report
Source: European Commission

The European Union and its Member States stand to gain a great deal by using the ‘soft power’ of cultural diplomacy, with benefits for the economy through increased market access for European cultural and creative industries, strengthened cultural diversity and the wider sharing of European values. This is the conclusion of a report published today by the European Commission following an initiative by the European Parliament.

“Cultural diplomacy gives us an opportunity to share our European culture and values such as human rights, diversity and equality with other countries,” said Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth. “It is also good for jobs and growth. I urge the future Commission and European Parliament to implement the report’s recommendations.”

EU — Building growth: Country-specific recommendations 2014

June 4, 2014 Comments off

Building growth: Country-specific recommendations 2014
Source: European Commission

The European Commission has today adopted a series of economic policy recommendations to individual Member States to strengthen the recovery that began a year ago. The recommendations are based on detailed analyses of each country’s situation and provide guidance on how to boost growth, increase competitiveness and create jobs in 2014-2015.

This year, the emphasis has shifted from addressing the urgent problems caused by the crisis to strengthening the conditions for sustainable growth and employment in a post-crisis economy. As part of today’s package, which marks the culmination of the fourth European Semester of economic policy coordination, the Commission has also adopted several decisions on Member States’ public finances under the Stability and Growth Pact. Taken together, they represent an ambitious set of reforms for the EU economy.

European Drug Report 2014: Trends and developments

June 2, 2014 Comments off

European Drug Report 2014: Trends and developments
Source: European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction

How many new drugs were detected in Europe over the last year? Is cannabis getting stronger? How many Europeans have ever used an illicit drug? What are the latest drug policy developments in the region? These are just some of the questions explored in the European Drug Report: Trends and developments. This report provides a top-level overview of the long-term drug-related trends and developments at European level, while homing in on emerging problems in specific countries. Such a perspective is valuable, as it allows differing national experiences to be understood within the broader European context.

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