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India: the biggest democracy in the world

November 19, 2014 Comments off

India: the biggest democracy in the world
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

With 1 267 million inhabitants, of which 834 million can vote, India is the largest democracy in the world. Despite India’s linguistic and religious diversity, the 2014 general elections have given the newly elected Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, a strong mandate. Since coming into office, Modi has reinforced his focus on the economy and international trade, which may further cement EU-India relations. The EU and India have been strategic partners since 2004. They began negotiations on a free trade area in 2007, although several Indian political parties have concerns over these.

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Pakistan: human rights situation

November 17, 2014 Comments off

Pakistan: human rights situation
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

Human rights abuse is one of the most complex and challenging issues in Pakistan today. The EU has expressed concerns about the human rights situation and monitors events closely. The European Parliament is worried about the sharp increase in sectarian violence and religious intolerance, as well as the continuing repression of women in the country.

EU — Being human in a hyper-connected era – The onlife initiative

November 11, 2014 Comments off

Being human in a hyper-connected era – The onlife initiative
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

The “Onlife Initiative”, a project launched by the Commission’s DG-CONNECT, explores the societal consequences of on-going digital transition. DG-CONNECT will present the conclusions of this project during a STOA workshop in the European Parliament on 2 December 2014.

The STOA workshop takes as its evidence-base that mobile broadband access to the internet, the Internet of Things, big data, open data, cloud-computing, social networks, and new forms of internet-based collaborative and co-creation models, (such as commons-based peer production and crowdsourcing), result in the ever-increasing pervasiveness of ICT in all aspects of our lives.

The digital revolution is clearly on its way. Governments are deploying e-government and e-participation systems, and in the political sphere, the new concept of online e-democracy clearly challenges the old representative democratic model invented by the Ancient Greeks. Progress in robotics, artificial intelligence, additive manufacturing, self-driving vehicles, drones and smart factories may result in the massive automation (between 30-50%) of existing jobs in the next 20 years and will require changes to the education system for the new jobs that may be created.

Long-term prospects for health look promising and are aided by the rapid development of technologies such as low powered electronics, 3D printing and nanotechnologies. The application of the latest advances in gaming technologies to the learning and teaching environment already allows for dramatic improvemenst in education and vocational and education training in some sectors, such as medicine – a trend which looks likely to grow in the future. According to economists, the increased use of ICT in all sectors of the EU economy would be, all other things being equal, the most sensible way of increasing labour productivity and therefore growing the EU’s GDP per capita.

Hong Kong: one country, two systems?

October 23, 2014 Comments off

Hong Kong: one country, two systems?
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

The on-going heated debate about the introduction of universal suffrage for the election of Hong Kong’s Chief Executive has turned into widespread protests on the territory’s streets. Hopes that the public would be able to nominate candidates were dashed by China’s decision to allow only committee-based nomination of candidates in the 2017 election. The Occupy Central protests, widely known as the Umbrella Revolution, kicked off on 28 September. Agreement to talks, scheduled for 10 October, saw tensions lowered, but after those talks were cancelled by the authorities, organisers called for protesters to return to the streets. With numbers not reaching earlier heights, the authorities appear to have concluded that the protests’ momentum is going.

EU — Photonics: An industry moving at the speed of light

October 9, 2014 Comments off

Photonics: An industry moving at the speed of light
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

Photonics is all around us; it is an integral part of modern human society, contributing to our daily lives. The science of photonics is the study an utilisation of light or photons. Consequently due to its interdisciplinary nature it crosses the fields of physics, chemistry and electrical engineering.

The majority of society is unaware if the collective study of phonics or its importance to industry. Instead of seeing devices that are produced by, or that use photonics, we simply see electronics. Unaware of the amazing technology within, it’s extensive nature or its complexities. Yet photonics is a sector that is increasingly vital to our economic growth and standard of living.it is driving innovation forward faster than ever before and revolutionising our lives, and altering the way we view and experience the world around us.

EU — Online gambling

October 7, 2014 Comments off

Online gambling
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

The online gambling market is growing rapidly with betting being the biggest sector. National levels of demand vary across the EU. With an estimated 6.84 million consumers, in 2012 annual revenues were €10.54 billion.

EU — Urban mobility: Shifting towards sustainable transport systems

October 3, 2014 Comments off

Urban mobility: Shifting towards sustainable transport systems
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

Urban mobility is confronted by many challenges, the key one being traffic congestion: urbanisation and a high dependence on cars having led to congestion in urban areas. Traffic congestion adversely impacts the urban environment itself in a direct way, leading to poor air quality, noise emissions, high levels of CO2 and road safety problems. It also affects current and future economic competitiveness, social cohesion and the continent’s sustainable growth.

Tackling urban mobility while minimising its undesirable impacts on the economy, society and the environment i.e. improving sustainable urban mobility goes beyond focusing on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of transport systems, also covering in particular demand-orientated measures, such as promoting walking, cycling, and a reduction in the need to travel.

While many cities are experiencing serious mobility issues, the effects of demographic and socio-economic changes such as ageing populations, migration, processes of suburbanisation and urban sprawl touch them in different ways and thus confront them with different mobility challenges. The ability of local entities or cities to act on mobility issues is also dependent on their regulatory and funding powers as well as their situation in terms of wealth and resources. Though dealing with urban mobility is primarily the responsibility of local, regional or national authorities, the EU has for many years placed urban mobility at the top of the EU agenda.

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