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Archive for the ‘European Parliament’ Category

Health and technology in life sciences

September 16, 2014 Comments off

Health and technology in life sciences
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

We are seeing developments in biotechnology that seem futuristic, such as computing systems at clinical testing stages used as ‘sensitive interaction partners’ for the elderly that help to provide care in response to individual needs. Such developments raise a range of questions. To what extent should humans use technology to enhance life? And how can these technologies be governed to uphold social, ethical and legal standards?

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Roaming charges in the EU

September 3, 2014 Comments off

Roaming charges in the EU
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

The “roaming charge” refers to the cost of using mobile communications (typically with a mobile phone) to make and receive voice calls, send and receive data, or access other services, when travelling outside the geographical area of the user’s home network and using another network in the location they are visiting. (Eurostat) Wholesale prices refer to the amount network operators charge each other for carrying traffic, whereas the caller is charged the retail price.

NATO – road to the 2014 Summit

August 28, 2014 Comments off

NATO – road to the 2014 Summit
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

Last NATO Summit was held in Chicago, in May 2012. The Afghan transition, the missile defence system, and cyber defence policies were at the centre of the discussion then. Two years later, the on-going withdrawal from Afghanistan, Ukraine and Russia, Syria and Iraq, and the re-thinking of the Transatlantic Partnership will be at the centre of the attention.

NATO is still struggling with its own identity in a world where geopolitics keeps feeding social unrest and conflicts. The 1949 definition of NATO to the circumscription of the North Atlantic has been challenged since the end of Soviet Union and the Berlin Wall, but the discussion is ever more pertinent in a context where the focus of instability has changed from Europe to the Middle East.

Consensual areas of NATO’s contributions are more technologic and preventive: the cyber-domains, the defence policies, and the conceptualizing of international standards of security. These areas will probably also be in the agenda for the Wales meeting on the 4-5 September 2014.

Social media freedom in Turkey

August 27, 2014 Comments off

Social media freedom in Turkey
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

After a two-month ban, the Turkish government restored access to the video-sharing website YouTube in June 2014. This move was necessary to comply with a Constitutional Court (CC) ruling, which judged blocking the site as a breach of freedom of expression. In April Turkey’s highest court had ruled in a similar case, overturning the controversial ban on the micro-blogging site Twitter. While Turkish Prime Minister (PM) Erdogan criticized the judgment fiercely, Stefan Füle, EU Commissioner for Enlargement, commended the CC for “safeguard[ing] rule of law and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms”.

The two social media court cases illustrate the widening gap between an increasingly authoritarian government and the judiciary in Turkey.

EU — Organic production and labelling of organic products

August 27, 2014 Comments off

Organic production and labelling of organic products
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

This note seeks to provide an initial analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the European Commission’s Impact Assessment (IA) accompanying the above proposal which was adopted on 24 March 2014.

The general problem identified is that the overall objective of the current EU political and legislative framework to ensure the sustainable development of organic production, is not being met. Over the last ten years, the organic market has been characterised by dynamic development driven by strong growth in demand. The global market for organic food expanded fourfold between 1999 and 2011, yet the area under organic production in the EU only doubled in the decade 2000-2010. According to the IA, neither internal supply, nor the legislative framework, has kept up with this market expansion, resulting in lost opportunities for EU producers. Moreover, the IA considers that the continued growth of the organic market might itself be at threat from possible erosion of consumer confidence, due to the watering down of some EU organic production rules, with excessive use of exceptions, and cases of fraud in the control system and the import regime. In addition, the development of private schemes has led to confusion, with a multiplication of logos competing with the EU organic logo. The entire regulatory framework is extremely complex and difficult to understand for operators, producers, consumers and public authorities, and will become more so with the foreseen implementation of a compliance regime for control bodies in non-recognised third countries from 2014. There is significant administrative burden linked notably to the management of the exceptions by national administrations and to the control of business operators.

Adapting the EU copyright rules to the digital transformation

August 25, 2014 Comments off

Adapting the EU copyright rules to the digital transformation
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

The initiative to modernise the EU copyright framework was launched in May 2011 in the European Commission’s strategy on “A Single Market for Intellectual Property Rights” and pursuant to actions in the Commission’s Digital Agenda for Europe. In December 2012, the Commission then published a “Communication on Content in the Digital Single Market” in which it aims to complete the review in 2014, followed by legislative reform proposals, as appropriate. Although two new Directives in specific areas of copyright – on orphan works (2012) and on the collective management of copyright (2014) – have since been adopted, a White Paper is now expected, and should be accompanied by an ‘Impact Assessment’, which will in fact be a presentation of detailed policy orientations and options in advance of decisions on specific Commission initiatives (legislative and non-legislative). According to the CWP 2014, its Annexes, and the 2013 Roadmap, the review seeks to achieve a modern framework that fosters innovative practices, creativity, cultural diversity, new business models, guarantees effective recognition and remuneration of rights holders, and enhances legal offers for end users while tackling piracy more effectively.

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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