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EU — The Cost of Non-Europe in Transport

March 24, 2015 Comments off

The Cost of Non-Europe in Transport
Source: European Parliament Think Tank

Transport is a vital component of the EU economy with huge untapped potential. The sector suffers however from remaining barriers, gaps and market inefficiencies that create substantial costs and that could be addressed through further action at EU level. The gains that could be achieved from addressing the identified issues in the four modes of transport – rail, road, air and maritime – are estimated to amount to at least 8.6 billion euros annually. While the four sectors show similarities in terms of market fragmentation and lack of competitiveness, each sector requires its own approach to reform. This document summarises the main elements that build up the Cost of Non-Europe in the transport sector. This is an updated version of a briefing published in January 2015.

NGOs and money laundering: Adapting EU rules to engage NGOs better

March 17, 2015 Comments off

NGOs and money laundering: Adapting EU rules to engage NGOs better
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

Money laundering (ML) is a major global concern. The minimum identifiable direct costs of organised crime in the European Union (EU) are estimated at around €166 billion a year. Europol, the EU’s law enforcement agency and Eurojust, the EU’s Judicial Cooperation Unit, estimate the minimum costs of fighting organised crime at EU level amount to €210 million a year.

To efficiently tackle ML the EU has stepped up cooperation with civil society, including non-governmental organisations (NGOs). NGOs are engaged as collectors of relevant information on illicit activities, and in developing standards and implementing anti-ML rules. At the same time, however, NGOs are considered ‘subjects at risk’ in the ML framework, either as fronts for terrorist organisations that raise and transfer funds, or as legitimate enterprises that indirectly support the aims of terrorist organisations.

This double-sided position for NGOs may impact on the efficacy of the measures currently in place at EU and international level to certify their transparency and accountability. NGOs, in turn, see such attempts to regulate their activities as a threat to their independence, and thus occasionally resist them.

Israel’s politics in the run-up to the elections

March 12, 2015 Comments off

Israel’s politics in the run-up to the elections
Source: European Parliament Think Tank

In December 2014, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called early national elections, scheduled for 17 March 2015, after dissolving the coalition arrangement underpinning the government formed after the January 2013 elections. Differences on Palestinian issues and budgetary matters, between Netanyahu, of the right-wing Likud party, and centrist parties in his coalition, reportedly contributed to the decision. Israel’s positions on a host of regional security and socioeconomic issues could be influenced by the election results.

New impetus for coordination and integration of energy policies in the EU

March 12, 2015 Comments off

New impetus for coordination and integration of energy policies in the EU
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

The European Commission published a Strategy for a European Energy Union in February 2015, together with a Communication on electricity network interconnections. It focusses on energy security, completing the internal energy market, energy efficiency, decarbonisation, as well as research and innovation.

The Energy Union Strategy sets out a holistic approach aiming to coordinate and integrate the energy policies of the EU and its Member States, going far beyond Donald Tusk’s 2014 proposal which had focussed on the security of gas supplies.

Implementation of the strategy will require several new pieces of EU legislation, to be adopted by European Parliament and Council under the ordinary legislative procedure. Experts and stakeholders have generally welcomed the strategy, but some see a conflict between decarbonisation of the energy system and the construction of pipelines and other infrastructure to diversify the EU’s gas supply.

EU — Energy Union: What Think Tanks are thinking

March 9, 2015 Comments off

Energy Union: What Think Tanks are thinking
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

The European Commission launched a blueprint on 25 February for an Energy Union that would ensure the free flow of gas and electricity across the European Union, diversify energy supply and move the bloc towards a low carbon economy in what is hoped to be a major shake-up aimed to create growth, job and enhance security.

Presenting its Energy Union Strategy, one of ten priority projects of President Jean-Claude Juncker, the Commission said it wanted to improve energy infrastructure to better share supplies and integrate renewables, end regulated pricing, increase the number of liquefied natural gas terminals and enforce existing law on competition. Energy efficiency in buildings and transport, as well as smart grids, should help keep energy demand from outpacing supplies. Research and innovation should make Europe a world leader in clean energy technologies. EU heads of state and government are due to discuss the energy union at their meeting on 19-20 March.

This note offers links to a selection of recent commentaries, studies and reports, authored by some of the major international think tanks and research institutes, which discuss the prospects for, and ways to create, a single energy market within the European Union.

Women and education in the EU

March 6, 2015 Comments off

Women and education in the EU
Source: European Parliament Think Tank

Gender equality in education is guaranteed by law in EU Member States, so the issues are far more complex than simply that of gaining access to education for girls, as remains the problem in many developing countries. Yet despite the legal equality in the EU, inequalities persist because of the educational choices that girls make, which may prevent them from achieving the potential they show earlier in education. Moreover, care needs to be taken not to ignore the problem of low-performing boys, a phenomenon sometimes overshadowed by the successes of men generally. The rationale for gender differences in education has mainly been approached from two perspectives: that of biological differences and that of societal and cultural influences. In the past, the view that biological differences are the cause of different educational outcomes was prevalent, but more recently there has been a shift towards the other side of the spectrum. The latest research shows that the differences between males and females are not sufficiently significant to account for the differences in educational outcome.

See also: The road to gender equality: achievements and challenges (European Parliamentary Research Service)

EU — Digital Single Market – Key Studies

March 4, 2015 Comments off

Digital Single Market – Key Studies
Source: European Parliament Think Thank

This leaflet provides a compilation of papers prepared by the European Parliament’s Policy Departments in relation to the Digital Single Market. The completion of a Digital Single Market for all citizens and sectors, across all of Europe will boost productivity and contribute to the development of the European economy. The Digital Agenda for Europe is a roadmap for bringing the benefits of a digital society and economy to Europe’s citizens. Legislative work is being carried out in order to deliver sustainable economic and social benefits and create a legal framework for all data processing activities in the EU for the years to come.

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