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Mexico: Political parties

July 13, 2015 Comments off

Mexico: Political parties
Source: European Parliament Think Tank

After 71 years of uninterrupted Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI) rule, a shift in power was finally achieved in the 2000 presidential elections, won by the National Action Party, which also won the 2006 elections. In 2012, the PRI returned to power under Enrique Peña Nieto, who has forged an alliance with the main opposition parties to introduce much-needed structural reforms in the country.

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.

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.

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.

EU-Turkey relations [What Think Tanks are thinking]

June 17, 2015 Comments off

EU-Turkey relations [What Think Tanks are thinking]
Source: European Parliament Think Tank

Turkey’s ruling AKP party won the 7 June parliamentary election, but lost its majority in the house, opening the way for talks on a coalition government and plunging the country into uncertainty. The vote ended more than a decade of single-party rule in the EU candidate country and dealt a blow to President Tayyip Erdogan’s ambitions for a more powerful executive role. It is expected to have many implications, including on EU-Turkey relations. This note offers links to commentaries, studies and reports from major international think tanks on recent developments in Turkey, and the relations between the EU and Turkey.

Corruption — still a major problem in several Western Balkan countries

June 16, 2015 Comments off

Corruption — still a major problem in several Western Balkan countries
Source: European Parliamentary Think Tank

The United Nations’ 2003 Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) starts by noting that corruption ‘undermines democracy and the rule of law, leads to violations of human rights, distorts markets, erodes the quality of life and allows organized crime, terrorism and other threats to human security to flourish’. To a varying extent, all countries are susceptible to the phenomenon of corruption (EU Member States not excluded). Factors such as social and economic development, political background and culture, among others, define how deep rooted it is in a given state. The Western Balkans (WB) is a region with a history of corrupt practices, one usually perceived as vulnerable to corruption. With the exception of Kosovo,* all countries from the Western Balkans – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia – are parties to UNCAC. Without exception, they are faced with widespread corruption – one of the key challenges as regards their aspirations for European integration. They have each made different progress towards EU membership, but share similar difficulties in the fight against corruption. Notwithstanding the assistance from the EU in the framework of the enlargement process, the results they have achieved so far have similarly been assessed as limited. * This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.

EU — Understanding deflation: Falling prices and their impact on the economy

June 12, 2015 Comments off

Understanding deflation: Falling prices and their impact on the economy
Source: European Parliament Think Tank

The possibility of deflationary periods occurring in the world’s most advanced economies is being signalled by many commentators. The effects of deflation on an economy depend on whether the deflation is caused by falls in demand or rises in productivity. The former is essentially detrimental to economic growth and may, in a worst case scenario, develop into a hard-to-break, self-reinforcing deflationary spiral, whereas the latter is believed to be conducive to economic growth. Economists remain divided over the effects of inflation and whether or not it should be mitigated at all times. Some claim that deflation always creates more problems than benefits for an economy, and as such should be actively prevented. Others argue that historical data do not show that inflation is preferable to deflation and that what influences an economy most negatively is not the deflation itself, but the significant fall in asset values (such as real estate or stocks) which often occurs first. The euro area has experienced a period of low inflation since 2013, and recently recorded successive declines in price levels. The European Commission and European Central Bank, however, predict that price levels will start to rise in 2016, while the International Monetary Fund and the OECD assess the risks of prolonged low inflation to be higher. Economists and commentators remain divided regarding the possible causes, risks, consequences and nature of this low inflation environment. Some indicate that it will create conditions favourable to economic growth, while others fear that persistent low inflation, or possible outright deflation, will be hard to mitigate and will be harmful to economic recovery in the euro area.

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