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Better communication for cohesion policy

05-11-2019

Cohesion policy is a major EU investment tool aimed at reducing regional disparities and achieving economic, social and territorial cohesion. It delivers a wide range of results in areas such as new infrastructure, training, job creation, support for small businesses and environmental protection. Communication is key when it comes to making the public aware of existing funding opportunities and informing them of the results of cohesion policy investments. It can also affect public perception of the ...

Cohesion policy is a major EU investment tool aimed at reducing regional disparities and achieving economic, social and territorial cohesion. It delivers a wide range of results in areas such as new infrastructure, training, job creation, support for small businesses and environmental protection. Communication is key when it comes to making the public aware of existing funding opportunities and informing them of the results of cohesion policy investments. It can also affect public perception of the EU and raise awareness of the positive impact of EU support on people's everyday lives. Improving the visibility of cohesion policy is therefore a salient issue for the EU. Communication measures range from requirements for fund managers and beneficiaries on the basis of EU legislation to more informal initiatives such as information campaigns, events and web portals aimed at publicising the policy's achievements. In the framework of multi-level governance, communication activities bring together a wide variety of actors including EU institutions, Member States, regional and local authorities and members of civil society. The ongoing negotiations on the new multiannual financial framework for 2021 to 2027, including new regulations on cohesion policy, and the upcoming conclusion of the 2014-2020 programming period provide a good opportunity for reflection on the issue of cohesion policy communication. This briefing updates an earlier edition, of March 2019. It was originally produced at the request of a member of the European Committee of the Regions, in the framework of the Cooperation Agreement between the Parliament and the Committee.

EU policies – Delivering for citizens: International trade and globalisation

28-06-2019

The European Community was founded on the belief that economic integration leads to peace and economic prosperity. Trade is therefore a fundamental part of the identity of the European Union (EU) today. Given the success of the internal market in fostering the longest period of European peace in modern history, the EU considers itself an example of the benefits of trade, globalisation and economic openness. International trade policy is an exclusive competence of the EU, and with the combined economic ...

The European Community was founded on the belief that economic integration leads to peace and economic prosperity. Trade is therefore a fundamental part of the identity of the European Union (EU) today. Given the success of the internal market in fostering the longest period of European peace in modern history, the EU considers itself an example of the benefits of trade, globalisation and economic openness. International trade policy is an exclusive competence of the EU, and with the combined economic weight of its Member States behind it, the EU is one of the key players in global trade. Yet trade policy is about more than stability and growth for the EU, as it is also used to encourage poor countries to develop, foster international alliances and support fundamental values in the world. A strong partner in the World Trade Organization (WTO), the EU backs an international trading system based on rules rather than might. The benefits of globalisation and international trade have nevertheless been questioned in recent years, including within the EU. This has led it to reinvigorate its trade policy, in particular by presenting a new trade strategy and a reflection paper on harnessing globalisation. The EU's new 'trade for all' strategy addresses criticisms and focuses on making its trade policy more effective, transparent and value-based. In line with this strategy, the EU has pursued ongoing trade negotiations with renewed vigour and launched new trade and investment talks, resulting in state-of-the-art agreements with countries such as Canada and Japan. The EU faces uncertain times due to major shifts in international trade, coming from both the West and the East. In response, it seeks to promote economic openness, standing up for its values and protecting its interests. For example, the EU has retaliated against United States (US) steel tariffs and continues to defend the rules-based international trading order. Contentious trading practices on the part of third countries, including China, have led the EU to modernise its trade defence instruments, prepare a new foreign investment screening mechanism and seek a reform of the WTO. The EU is likely to continue this approach in the coming term, pursuing international cooperation and new agreements, possibly also at a continental level with Africa, and striving to protect its citizens and businesses from economic harm. This is an update of an earlier briefing issued in advance of the 2019 European elections.

EU policies – Delivering for citizens: Agriculture

28-06-2019

The common agricultural policy (CAP) is one of the oldest common policies in the EU. Its significance is reflected in the proportion of the EU's budget devoted to it, representing approximately 40 % of the total. Developed at a time when Europe was unable to meet most of its own food needs, it was necessary to encourage farmers to produce food by means of guaranteed prices. The policy has undergone regular reform and has evolved over the years. These reforms have sought to improve the competitiveness ...

The common agricultural policy (CAP) is one of the oldest common policies in the EU. Its significance is reflected in the proportion of the EU's budget devoted to it, representing approximately 40 % of the total. Developed at a time when Europe was unable to meet most of its own food needs, it was necessary to encourage farmers to produce food by means of guaranteed prices. The policy has undergone regular reform and has evolved over the years. These reforms have sought to improve the competitiveness of the agricultural sector, promote rural development and address new challenges in areas such as the environment and climate change. Evidence from a series of Eurobarometer surveys indicates that EU citizens have a high level of awareness of this policy area. There is a recognition that the policy is succeeding in meeting citizens' expectations in terms of delivering healthy high-quality food as well as contributing to the protection of the environment. When it comes to agriculture, Parliament's eighth term focused on taking forward not only implementation of the last CAP reform in 2013 but also a series of significant legislative achievements. The areas covered include, for example, unfair trading practices, animal health, plant health and the organic sector, as well as a range of policy-related simplification measures. On the non-legislative front, Parliament pursued its scrutiny role rigorously. Other substantial issues it considered during the last legislature included the future policy direction of the CAP for the post-2020 period, establishing its position on the next multiannual financial framework (MFF), including the overall budgetary allocation for the future CAP and the associated legislative framework. In the case of the latter, this has not been the subject of a plenary vote. This is an update of an earlier briefing issued in advance of the 2019 European elections.

EU policies – Delivering for citizens: Security and defence

28-06-2019

Security and defence policy in the European Union is predominantly a competence of the Member States. At the same time, a common security and defence policy, which could progressively lead to a European defence union, is enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty. Since 2016, there has been significant progress in that direction, with several initiatives in the area of security and defence having been proposed and initiated under the 2014-2019 mandate of the Commission and the European Parliament. The idea that ...

Security and defence policy in the European Union is predominantly a competence of the Member States. At the same time, a common security and defence policy, which could progressively lead to a European defence union, is enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty. Since 2016, there has been significant progress in that direction, with several initiatives in the area of security and defence having been proposed and initiated under the 2014-2019 mandate of the Commission and the European Parliament. The idea that the European Union should deliver in the area of security and defence has become more and more popular with EU citizens. The crises in the EU's eastern and southern neighbourhoods, such as the occupation of Crimea and conflicts in the Middle East, have created an environment of insecurity in which the EU is called upon to do more. Following the Council decision of 2013 and particularly since the launch of the EU global strategy in 2016, the EU has been working to respond to these needs predominantly by implementing in full the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty. In recent years, it has begun the implementation of ambitious initiatives in the area of security and defence, such as permanent structured cooperation (PESCO), the European defence action plan, including a new defence fund to finance research and development of EU military capabilities, closer and more efficient cooperation with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a plan to facilitate military mobility within and across the EU, and revision of the financing of its civilian and military missions and operations to make them more effective. These new initiatives are illustrated in the relevant proposals for the new multiannual financial framework (2021-2027) and the accompanying off-budget instruments. Given EU leaders' support in the recent past for further initiatives in EU security and defence policy, important debates are likely to take place in future on the possible progressive framing of a European defence union. This is an update of an earlier briefing issued in advance of the 2019 European elections.

EU policies – Delivering for citizens: Foreign policy

28-06-2019

European Union (EU) action beyond its borders often requires a combination of approaches. The EU Treaties differentiate between common foreign and security policy (CFSP), common security and defence policy (CSDP), external action, and the external dimension of internal policies, but in the field, issues are so intertwined that more often than not a single tool is not sufficient. For example, population displacement triggered by a conflict over natural resources has to be addressed by humanitarian ...

European Union (EU) action beyond its borders often requires a combination of approaches. The EU Treaties differentiate between common foreign and security policy (CFSP), common security and defence policy (CSDP), external action, and the external dimension of internal policies, but in the field, issues are so intertwined that more often than not a single tool is not sufficient. For example, population displacement triggered by a conflict over natural resources has to be addressed by humanitarian aid, itself secured by a CSDP mission, and its effects mitigated by adequate migration and development policies, while peace talks are conducted. Coordination between all stakeholders is challenging but vital, not only as a response but also for prevention. To address new challenges such as climate change, rising insecurity or new migration patterns, the EU has put forward concrete solutions to shape synergy between the actors, in order to use shared expertise more effectively, and to find new sources of funding. The new foreign policy framework (EU global strategy) is intended to map the tools and resources best designed to help society as a whole, in the EU and partner countries, to withstand natural and manmade shocks more effectively. This means making connections between actors and between traditionally separate policy areas. Budgetary constraints and the will to depart from a donor/recipient relationship have also resulted in innovative financing tools, using EU funds to leverage private investments. While, since its launch, the global strategy has proved to be a coherent vision, sturdy, comprehensive external action nevertheless requires coordination at all levels. In the years to come, global instability is expected to rise; the challenge for the EU will be to ensure security while upholding the core values of the Treaties – human rights, democracy and the fight against poverty – as its primary objectives on the global stage. This is an update of an earlier briefing issued in advance of the 2019 European elections.

EU policies – Delivering for citizens: Youth empowerment

28-06-2019

The proportion of young people (15-29 years old) in the general EU population is declining. On the whole, young people have a higher level of education than older adults, and youth unemployment rates have begun to decrease. Nevertheless, young people are still more exposed to poverty and social exclusion than other sections of the population. They are less prone to put their health at risk than previous generations. For instance, fewer young people smoke, get drunk, or become involved in a road accident ...

The proportion of young people (15-29 years old) in the general EU population is declining. On the whole, young people have a higher level of education than older adults, and youth unemployment rates have begun to decrease. Nevertheless, young people are still more exposed to poverty and social exclusion than other sections of the population. They are less prone to put their health at risk than previous generations. For instance, fewer young people smoke, get drunk, or become involved in a road accident than previously, but young people are still over-represented among those who are injured in road accidents. Obesity due to bad eating habits and lack of physical exercise is still an issue. Young people are also less likely to vote, or stand for election than older adults, but in recent years there has been a slight increase in interest in politics, political action and volunteering. Almost 80 % of young Europeans identify themselves as European citizens. In a Eurobarometer survey published in 2018 they placed education, skills and the environment at the top of a list of priorities for the EU. The European Union is engaged in helping Member States address young people's needs and aspirations through a youth strategy which covers areas such as employment, entrepreneurship, social inclusion, participation, education, training, health, wellbeing, voluntary activities, the global dimension, creativity and culture. The strategy is backed by a number of funding programmes that are specifically focused on young people, most notably the Youth Employment Initiative, Erasmus+ and the European Solidarity Corps. It also draws from funds directed at other specific policy areas. EU action in the area of youth empowerment is best known for the mobility opportunities it has created, in particular through Erasmus. Future challenges include reaching a wider spectrum of young people, especially those from disadvantaged and hard-to-reach groups, making the results of the consultative process, known as youth dialogue, more tangible, and improving synergies between policy areas for greater effectiveness. This is an update of an earlier briefing issued in advance of the 2019 European elections.

EU policies – Delivering for citizens: Future financing of EU policies

28-06-2019

The principle of subsidiarity means that the European Union (EU) should act where it can do so more effectively than its constituent Member States individually, and this also holds true in the area of public finance – the EU's budget together with off-budget tools for financing EU policies. At €165.8 billion in 2019 – or approximately 1 % of Member States' collective gross national income (GNI) – the EU budget is a great deal smaller in relative terms than EU national governments' budgets. It serves ...

The principle of subsidiarity means that the European Union (EU) should act where it can do so more effectively than its constituent Member States individually, and this also holds true in the area of public finance – the EU's budget together with off-budget tools for financing EU policies. At €165.8 billion in 2019 – or approximately 1 % of Member States' collective gross national income (GNI) – the EU budget is a great deal smaller in relative terms than EU national governments' budgets. It serves mainly as a vehicle for investment, particularly in the areas of rural and regional development, industrial research and support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and political and economic development in neighbouring countries. These policies are designed to yield European public goods, with benefits that go beyond the national borders of individual EU countries. The Commission calculates that they do so for less than the cost of one cup of coffee a day per citizen. During the 2014-2019 parliamentary term, the EU was buffeted by challenges to its capacity to act, including financially, by geopolitical instability in the wider region, the migration and refugee crisis, and unresolved questions about the future of the euro, linked to the legacy of the economic, financial and sovereign debt crises. However, the EU also saw several notable achievements. These include the update to the financial rules governing the use of EU funds, simplifying the rules and strengthening the focus on performance and results; the creation of a European Public Prosecutor's Office to help address the roughly 0.35 % of the EU budget at risk of fraud; a mid-term revision of the multiannual financial framework (MFF), enhancing its flexibility to provide for a more responsive EU; the development of proposals for new sources of revenue in time for negotiations on the post-2020 MFF; and policy innovation in the field of financial engineering, helping EU finance go further by leveraging private investment. The 2019 elections mark a turning point in the future financing of EU policies, since the new Parliament will be responsible for concluding negotiations on the next multiannual spending plan. The Commission has proposed a 2021-2027 MFF totalling 1.11 % of the post-Brexit EU-27's GNI, and new sources of EU revenue to reduce the burden on national treasuries and forge a clearer link between revenue and policies. It also proposes to consolidate progress made in the last term with regard to budgetary flexibility, financial integrity and the rule of law, and in encouraging private investment in Europe. This is an update of an earlier briefing issued prior to the 2019 European elections.

EU policies – Delivering for citizens: Regional policy

28-06-2019

The principal aim of the EU's regional policy, also known as cohesion policy, is to address the territorial, social and economic imbalances that exist between the different regions of the EU. Regional policy covers all regions and cities of the European Union, helping to support job creation, business competitiveness, economic growth, sustainable development, and to improve citizens' quality of life. To achieve these goals and address the diverse development needs in all EU regions, €351.8 billion ...

The principal aim of the EU's regional policy, also known as cohesion policy, is to address the territorial, social and economic imbalances that exist between the different regions of the EU. Regional policy covers all regions and cities of the European Union, helping to support job creation, business competitiveness, economic growth, sustainable development, and to improve citizens' quality of life. To achieve these goals and address the diverse development needs in all EU regions, €351.8 billion – almost one third of the total EU budget – has been set aside for cohesion policy for the 2014-2020 period. This financial support is distributed through two main funds: the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund (CF). Together with the European Social Fund (ESF), the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), they make up the European structural and investment (ESI) funds, which provide support that can make a real difference to the lives of people in the EU's regions. With the current programming period (2014-2020) drawing to a close, work is now under way on planning the cohesion policy priorities for the next programming period (2021-2027). During its 2014-2019 term the European Parliament was called upon numerous times to adopt new legislative acts, amend older rules and to provide opinions on many topics relating to the EU's regional policy. Within the European Parliament, the Committee on Regional Policy is responsible for the Union's regional development and cohesion policy, as set out in the Treaties. In anticipation of its expected withdrawal from the EU, the UK, until now a net contributor to the EU budget, will no longer contribute to the post-2020 EU budget, which means that the EU will have fewer resources to allocate to its policies in the future, including cohesion policy. The European Parliament has, however, strongly advocated maintaining the level of funding for cohesion policy at its current level or even increasing it. This is an update of an earlier briefing issued in advance of the 2019 European elections.

Rules on political groups in the EP

05-06-2019

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) may form political groups; these are organised not by nationality, but by political affiliation. Since the first direct elections in 1979, the number of political groups has fluctuated between seven and ten. Following the 2019 elections, the number, size and composition of political groups is likely to continue to fluctuate, as a result of the possible dissolution of some political groups and the creation of new ones. To form a political group, a minimum ...

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) may form political groups; these are organised not by nationality, but by political affiliation. Since the first direct elections in 1979, the number of political groups has fluctuated between seven and ten. Following the 2019 elections, the number, size and composition of political groups is likely to continue to fluctuate, as a result of the possible dissolution of some political groups and the creation of new ones. To form a political group, a minimum of 25 MEPs, elected in at least one quarter (currently seven) of the EU's Member States is required. Those Members who do not belong to any political group are known as 'non-attached' (non-inscrits) Members. Although the political groups play a very prominent role in Parliament's life, individual MEPs and/or several MEPs acting together, also have many rights, including in relation to the exercise of oversight over other EU institutions, such as the Commission. However, belonging to a political group is of particular relevance when it comes to the allocation of key positions in Parliament's political and organisational structures, such as committee and delegation chairs and rapporteurships on important dossiers. Moreover, political groups receive higher funding for their collective staff and parliamentary activities than the non-attached MEPs. Political group funding, however, is distinct from funding granted to European political parties and foundations, which, if they comply with the requirements to register as such, may apply for funding from the European Parliament.

Balanced and fairer world trade defence: EU, US and WTO perspectives

29-05-2019

This workshop of the Committee on International Trade discussed recent developments in trade defence legislation and practice from the perspectives of the EU, the USA and the WTO. A set of trade defence rules have been agreed in the framework of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), in particular on anti-dumping, anti-subsidies and safeguards. The WTO also provides a dispute settlement system for cases brought forward by its members. The EU has recently adopted two sets of new legislation on Trade ...

This workshop of the Committee on International Trade discussed recent developments in trade defence legislation and practice from the perspectives of the EU, the USA and the WTO. A set of trade defence rules have been agreed in the framework of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), in particular on anti-dumping, anti-subsidies and safeguards. The WTO also provides a dispute settlement system for cases brought forward by its members. The EU has recently adopted two sets of new legislation on Trade Defence Instruments (TDI), known as ‘TDI methodology’ and ‘TDI modernisation’. These new rules aim at enhancing the EU’s trade defence, without deviating from its commitment to an open economic environment set in an international rules based order. The US has its own rules and practice for trade defence and continues to distinguish between countries having a market economy and those who don’t - a difference abandoned by the EU in its latest reform. Moreover, the Trump Administration has imposed many new tariffs on foreign imports, often based on the national security exception provided by the WTO - a justification contested by most of the countries targeted. Furthermore, the US expressed concerns about the system of dispute settlement in the WTO, blocking nominations to its Appellate Body. Experts gave their views on whether all these recent developments are contributing to an international trade defence regime that is ‘fair’ and ‘balanced’, taking into account the different perspectives.

Autor extern

Erdal YALCIN, Hannes WELGE, André SAPIR, Petros C. MAVROIDIS

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