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Coronavirus and the world of work

23-04-2020

The coronavirus pandemic and the measures taken to curb its spread have had far-reaching and lasting consequences in different sectors of the economy, in the form of job and income losses or significantly modified working conditions. This briefing gives an overview of the host of problems confronting workers and employers due to the pandemic and its consequences, and presents possible solutions that can be applied at different levels. A set of solutions concerns the level of the individual worker ...

The coronavirus pandemic and the measures taken to curb its spread have had far-reaching and lasting consequences in different sectors of the economy, in the form of job and income losses or significantly modified working conditions. This briefing gives an overview of the host of problems confronting workers and employers due to the pandemic and its consequences, and presents possible solutions that can be applied at different levels. A set of solutions concerns the level of the individual worker or the company employing them. Certain types of occupations, for instance, allow 'going digital' (even if teleworking also has its challenges). In other cases, the company can pay partial or total wages or sick leave to its employees. At yet another level, that of the Member States, short-time work schemes can be introduced or have their scope further extended. Governments can also regulate parameters of teleworking or extend income replacements to groups of workers benefiting from lesser social protection. Through initiatives such as the Support to Mitigate Unemployment Risks in Emergency (SURE) and the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiatives, the European Union is taking an active part in tackling the coronavirus crisis by supporting Member States, companies and workers to face the challenges. At its 16-17 April plenary session, the European Parliament voted on and adopted a number of important coronavirus-related proposals, concerning among others workers in certain sectors (healthcare, fishermen and aquaculture farmers) as well as more flexible use of the European structural and investment funds.

Demographic outlook for the European Union 2020

02-03-2020

Demography matters. The economy and the labour market, but also social protection, intergenerational fairness and healthcare, the environment, food and nutrition are all driven by demography. The population of EU countries has grown substantially – by around a quarter since 1960 – and currently it stands at almost 450 million. The numbers are now beginning to stagnate however and are expected to decline from around the middle of the century. With the world population having risen still more substantially ...

Demography matters. The economy and the labour market, but also social protection, intergenerational fairness and healthcare, the environment, food and nutrition are all driven by demography. The population of EU countries has grown substantially – by around a quarter since 1960 – and currently it stands at almost 450 million. The numbers are now beginning to stagnate however and are expected to decline from around the middle of the century. With the world population having risen still more substantially and growth continuing, the EU represents a shrinking proportion of the global population. The EU population is also ageing dramatically, as life expectancy increases and fertility rates fall below past levels. This has serious implications across a range of areas including the economy, healthcare and pensions. Free movement within the EU and migration from third countries also play an important role in shaping demography in individual Member States and regions. The 'in-focus' section of this year's edition of the demographic outlook examines food and nutrition-related demographic challenges. It shows that, even if improving food quality and healthier eating habits lead to higher life expectancy, the EU still has to tackle the harmful consequences and prevent the causes of diet-related chronic conditions, such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This paper is the third in a series produced by EPRS on the demographic outlook for the European Union.

Prudential requirements and supervision of investment firms

15-01-2020

Investment firms play an important role in capital markets, facilitating savings and investment flows across the EU. However, the current EU rules are seen as fragmented, overly complex, inconsistently applied and often a poor fit for the actual risks taken by the various types of investment firms. The Commission proposed a new regulation on the prudential requirements of investment firms and a new directive on the prudential supervision of investment firms. These proposals update the framework for ...

Investment firms play an important role in capital markets, facilitating savings and investment flows across the EU. However, the current EU rules are seen as fragmented, overly complex, inconsistently applied and often a poor fit for the actual risks taken by the various types of investment firms. The Commission proposed a new regulation on the prudential requirements of investment firms and a new directive on the prudential supervision of investment firms. These proposals update the framework for investment firms, making it more effective and more closely calibrated to the size and nature of the various investment firms and their risks. Parliament's Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) agreed its report and negotiating mandate on 24 September 2018. On 20 March 2019, provisional agreements were reached by Parliament and Council negotiators. Parliament adopted the texts at first reading on 16 April 2019. Following linguistic corrections, corrigenda were endorsed by Parliament in October, and the regulation and directive were adopted by the Council then signed into law on 27 November. Both will apply in full from 26 June 2021. Second edition of a briefing originally drafted by David Eatock. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

A fresh look at the future of work in the EU

24-10-2019

Economic and technical changes are redrawing the map of the world of work: new jobs are appearing while others are becoming obsolete, and atypical work patterns are replacing full-time work and open-ended contracts. In addition, work is increasingly being carried out on online platforms connecting buyers and sellers, or by large project teams across borders and time zones. Robotics and digitalisation raise new questions, as machines progressively replace the human workforce for routine tasks, and ...

Economic and technical changes are redrawing the map of the world of work: new jobs are appearing while others are becoming obsolete, and atypical work patterns are replacing full-time work and open-ended contracts. In addition, work is increasingly being carried out on online platforms connecting buyers and sellers, or by large project teams across borders and time zones. Robotics and digitalisation raise new questions, as machines progressively replace the human workforce for routine tasks, and new types of professional and personal skills are required to respond to technological progress. Active labour-market policies are gradually adapting to the changing reality in the world of work. This concerns social security systems, which increasingly face include new, and constantly changing requirements, as well as ethical and practical problems relating to robotics. The EU focuses on protecting workers' rights while ensuring innovation, as the examples of the recently adopted Directive on Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions and the establishment of the new European Labour Authority illustrate. The need for the new digital skills that are essential to successfully master the challenges of the new working environment also continues to grow. This is an update of an earlier Briefing on the Future of work in the EU, from April 2017, PE 599.426.

Hearings of the Commissioners-designate: Dubravka Šuica – Vice-President: Democracy and Demography

26-09-2019

This briefing is one in a set looking at the Commissioners-designate and their portfolios as put forward by Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen. Each candidate faces a three-hour public hearing, organised by one or more parliamentary committees. After that process, those committees will judge the candidates' suitability for the role based on 'their general competence, European commitment and personal independence', as well as their 'knowledge of their prospective portfolio and their communication ...

This briefing is one in a set looking at the Commissioners-designate and their portfolios as put forward by Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen. Each candidate faces a three-hour public hearing, organised by one or more parliamentary committees. After that process, those committees will judge the candidates' suitability for the role based on 'their general competence, European commitment and personal independence', as well as their 'knowledge of their prospective portfolio and their communication skills'. At the end of the hearings process, Parliament votes on the proposed Commission as a bloc, and under the Treaties may only reject the entire College of Commissioners, rather than individual candidates. The Briefing provides an overview of key issues in the portfolio areas, as well as Parliament's activity in the last term in that field. It also includes a brief introduction to the candidate.

Framework for a pan-European personal pension product (PEPP)

26-08-2019

Europe's population is ageing, due to people living longer and having fewer children, putting pressure on pension systems and leading to reforms to make public pensions more sustainable – and often less generous – in future. To support retirement incomes, the European Commission's 2012 pensions white paper called for more opportunities for citizens to save in safe and good-value complementary pensions. The aim of the proposed framework for a pan-European personal pension product (PEPP) was to encourage ...

Europe's population is ageing, due to people living longer and having fewer children, putting pressure on pension systems and leading to reforms to make public pensions more sustainable – and often less generous – in future. To support retirement incomes, the European Commission's 2012 pensions white paper called for more opportunities for citizens to save in safe and good-value complementary pensions. The aim of the proposed framework for a pan-European personal pension product (PEPP) was to encourage the development of personal (voluntary, individually funded) pensions in Europe, to support retirement saving and strengthen the single market for capital by making more funds available for investment. Generally the proposal was considered a welcome extra option to support retirement savings and investment. However differing national pension systems and tax treatments were noted as challenges, although the Commission also issued an accompanying tax recommendation. Following trilogue negotiations, an agreement was reached on the legislative proposal. It was subsequently approved by the Parliament on 4 April 2019 and by the Council on 14 June 2019. The final act was signed on 20 June 2019. Third edition of a briefing originally drafted by David Eatock. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

European Labour Authority

26-08-2019

The rapid increase in the number of Europeans working in a Member State other than their own, the large number of daily cross-border commuters and the need for information on job opportunities and rights at home and abroad have led the European Commission to propose the creation of a European-level coordinating body. The European Labour Authority (ELA) would replace, reorganise, or cooperate with existing structures dealing with information for individuals and employers, mediate between national ...

The rapid increase in the number of Europeans working in a Member State other than their own, the large number of daily cross-border commuters and the need for information on job opportunities and rights at home and abroad have led the European Commission to propose the creation of a European-level coordinating body. The European Labour Authority (ELA) would replace, reorganise, or cooperate with existing structures dealing with information for individuals and employers, mediate between national labour authorities and social security bodies, and gather viable data on posted workers and commuters. According to the final text of the agreement reached between the Council and the Parliament, the main tasks of the ELA will be to facilitate access to information, enhance cooperation, and coordinate and support concerted and joint inspections. Furthermore, the ELA, in cooperation with Member States and social partner organisations, will assess risks and carry out analyses regarding labour mobility and social security coordination. The ELA may also conclude cooperation agreements with other relevant Union agencies. The European Parliament approved the agreement in plenary on 16 April 2019. The Council adopted the act on 13 June 2019 and the final act was signed on 20 June 2019 and entered into force on 31 July 2019. The Authority will become operational with the capacity to implement its own budget by 1 August 2021. Third edition. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Ensuring more transparent and predictable working conditions

26-08-2019

An employer's obligation to inform employees of the conditions applicable to their contracts is regulated by Directive 91/533/EEC. Major shifts in the labour market due to demographic trends and digitalisation, spawning a growing number of non-standard employment relationships, have made it necessary to revise this directive. The European Commission therefore came forward with a proposal for a directive aimed at updating and extending the information on employment-related obligations and working ...

An employer's obligation to inform employees of the conditions applicable to their contracts is regulated by Directive 91/533/EEC. Major shifts in the labour market due to demographic trends and digitalisation, spawning a growing number of non-standard employment relationships, have made it necessary to revise this directive. The European Commission therefore came forward with a proposal for a directive aimed at updating and extending the information on employment-related obligations and working conditions, and at creating new minimum standards for all employed workers, including those on atypical contracts. In the European Parliament, the Committee for Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL) considered the proposal and adopted a report focusing in particular on the scope, on employees' working hours, on the conditions for making information available to them, and on employers' responsibilities. Following trilogue negotiations, the European Parliament and the Council reached an agreement on the content of the draft legislation. The final act was signed on 20 June 2019 and published in the Official Journal on 11 July 2019. Member States have until 1 August 2022 to take the necessary measures to comply with the new directive. Third edition. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

EU policies – Delivering for citizens: Health and social security

28-06-2019

While responsibility for health and social security lies primarily with the governments of the individual European Union (EU) Member States, the EU complements national policies, especially those with a cross-border dimension. In a recent poll conducted for the European Parliament, more than two thirds of EU citizens expressed support for increased EU action on health and social security. EU health policy aims to foster good health, protect citizens from health threats and support dynamic health ...

While responsibility for health and social security lies primarily with the governments of the individual European Union (EU) Member States, the EU complements national policies, especially those with a cross-border dimension. In a recent poll conducted for the European Parliament, more than two thirds of EU citizens expressed support for increased EU action on health and social security. EU health policy aims to foster good health, protect citizens from health threats and support dynamic health systems. It is mainly implemented through EU action programmes, currently the third health programme (2014-2020). Challenges include tackling the health needs of an ageing population and reducing the incidence of preventable chronic diseases. Since 2014, steps forward have been made in a number of areas, including antimicrobial resistance, childhood obesity, health systems, medical devices and vaccination. EU action on social security issues in the EU is closely related to the implementation of what is known as the European Pillar of Social Rights as well as labour market developments. The EU helps to promote social cohesion, seeking to foster equality as well as solidarity through adequate, accessible and financially sustainable social protection systems and social inclusion policies. EU spending on social security is tied to labour market measures. Progress can be observed on issues such as work-life balance and equal opportunities, but there is more to do. In the future, social protection schemes will need to be further adapted to the new labour market realities (fewer manufacturing jobs, atypical contracts, 'platform work', etc.). In its proposal for the 2021-2027 multiannual financial framework, the European Commission plans to boost funding to improve workers' employment opportunities, and strengthen social cohesion through an enlarged 'European Social Fund Plus'. The fund would also incorporate finance for the stand-alone health programme, with the aim of creating synergies with the other building blocks of the European Pillar of Social Rights: equal opportunities and access to the labour market; fair working conditions; and social protection and inclusion. This is an update of an earlier briefing issued in advance of the 2019 European elections.

Revising the social security coordination regulations

16-04-2019

Around 14 million EU citizens live outside their home country. The social security systems that apply to them are determined by the relevant individual Member States. The European Commission proposed to adapt the current regulations on coordination of social security systems. A provisional agreement was reached between the Council Presidency and the European Parliament, but was rejected at the Coreper meeting on 29 March 2019. Parliament will discuss the file during its April II 2019 plenary session ...

Around 14 million EU citizens live outside their home country. The social security systems that apply to them are determined by the relevant individual Member States. The European Commission proposed to adapt the current regulations on coordination of social security systems. A provisional agreement was reached between the Council Presidency and the European Parliament, but was rejected at the Coreper meeting on 29 March 2019. Parliament will discuss the file during its April II 2019 plenary session.

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