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Posted on 04-06-2020

Digital culture − Access issues

04-06-2020

The digital shift has touched all aspects of human activity, and culture is no exception. Cultural assets and works have been digitised and digital technology has become a tool for novel creations. Digital-born works have enriched the resources available to those interested in culture. Technology has huge potential to facilitate and democratise access to cultural resources. However, certain technical conditions are required to allow access to these cultural resources, for example webpages devoted ...

The digital shift has touched all aspects of human activity, and culture is no exception. Cultural assets and works have been digitised and digital technology has become a tool for novel creations. Digital-born works have enriched the resources available to those interested in culture. Technology has huge potential to facilitate and democratise access to cultural resources. However, certain technical conditions are required to allow access to these cultural resources, for example webpages devoted to digitised cultural heritage and its hidden treasures as well as those devoted to novel creations. These conditions include an internet infrastructure, computers, tablets, or, more frequently, a smartphone − all of which has a price tag. Moreover, the deployment of such infrastructure needs to be evenly distributed so as to provide equal and democratic access to cultural resources − which is not yet the case. Access to costly technology is not sufficient. The technology used must go hand in hand with digital skills that are not evenly acquired by all ages and social groups. Persons with disabilities are in a particularly difficult situation, since ICT equipment often does not suit their specific needs. Moreover, cultural resources are often not available in suitable formats for them. European Union policies and strategies in many areas take all these challenges and access barriers into consideration. EU funds finance connectivity infrastructure in areas in need, training, and educational initiatives across policy areas going from culture and education to innovation and technology. The relationship between technology, science, the arts, and culture is becoming increasingly close in the digital era.

Posted on 03-06-2020

EU rules on vouchers offered to passengers and travellers

03-06-2020

Carriers and travel companies can offer vouchers for journeys and holidays cancelled due to coronavirus. However, this offer cannot affect passengers' and travellers' right to opt for reimbursement instead, the European Commission has explained. At the same time, airlines, various Member States and some Members of the European Parliament have been calling for temporary changes to the rules.

Carriers and travel companies can offer vouchers for journeys and holidays cancelled due to coronavirus. However, this offer cannot affect passengers' and travellers' right to opt for reimbursement instead, the European Commission has explained. At the same time, airlines, various Member States and some Members of the European Parliament have been calling for temporary changes to the rules.

Education in isolation in the pandemic, following the path of Isaac Newton

03-06-2020

While schools have remained closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, students' education cannot be suspended indefinitely without severe consequences. Alternative methods, mostly dependent on digital technology, have been adopted very rapidly. Organisations such as Unesco have been quick to monitor the situation, and the European Union too has followed developments in the Member States through its agencies and networks. Video-conferences between education ministers have been pivotal for them to discuss ...

While schools have remained closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, students' education cannot be suspended indefinitely without severe consequences. Alternative methods, mostly dependent on digital technology, have been adopted very rapidly. Organisations such as Unesco have been quick to monitor the situation, and the European Union too has followed developments in the Member States through its agencies and networks. Video-conferences between education ministers have been pivotal for them to discuss issues and learn from each other's best practices. What has started as an emergency has become an eye-opener, as existing educational gaps have become more visible. Socio-economic inequalities, greater difficulties of access for those with special educational needs, barriers in home–school communication and between teachers and educational authorities have been compounded by missing digital tools and skills. The sudden leap has also given rise to outreach initiatives and a growing awareness of resources whose potential was still under-exploited. These included numerous online platforms and other resources that became freely available to salvage the situation. As teachers, students and parents experiment with new tools, policy-makers try to understand what can be more systematically adopted in the future to make education more flexible and inclusive, and what needs to be debunked. Learning is not limited to schooling; vocational education and training, universities and adult education sectors have also struggled to maintain their activities. At the same time, they will be expected to contribute to the relaunch following the end of confinement. Given the economic downturn, guidance and career counselling will have a pivotal role in reskilling and upskilling the labour force. The European Union has a supportive role in this process and also needs to safeguard the wellbeing of participants in its programmes Erasmus+ and the European Solidarity Corps. The European Parliament is keen to ensure the institutions do all they can. Where does Isaac Newton fit in all this?

Better Regulation practices in national parliaments

03-06-2020

Ex-ante impact assessment and ex-post evaluation are regulatory policy tools that help inform the policy-making process with evidence-based analysis. Both tools are geared towards raising the quality of policies and legislation. While Better Regulation is widely deemed a prerogative of the executive branch, increasingly, parliaments are also emerging as actors. This study sheds light on the parliamentary dimension of Better Regulation. Based on a survey, it maps the capacities and experiences of ...

Ex-ante impact assessment and ex-post evaluation are regulatory policy tools that help inform the policy-making process with evidence-based analysis. Both tools are geared towards raising the quality of policies and legislation. While Better Regulation is widely deemed a prerogative of the executive branch, increasingly, parliaments are also emerging as actors. This study sheds light on the parliamentary dimension of Better Regulation. Based on a survey, it maps the capacities and experiences of the national parliaments of all 27 European Union (EU) Member States and of 11 further Council of Europe countries in the field of ex-ante impact assessment and ex-post evaluation. The study reveals that roughly half of the surveyed parliaments engage in regulatory policy beyond classical parliamentary scrutiny mechanisms. Overall, these parliaments show a very diverse pattern in terms of drivers, types and depth of engagement. There is no 'one size fits all' approach.

Possible Avenues for Further Political Integration in Europe - A Political Compact for a More Democratic and Effective Union?

03-06-2020

This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the AFCO Committee, analyses possible avenues for further political integration in the EU after Brexit. The study maps the multiple crises that the EU has weathered in the past decade and explains how these crises, including the recent Covid-19 pandemic, reveal several substantive and institutional weaknesses in the current EU system of governance. The study considers ...

This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the AFCO Committee, analyses possible avenues for further political integration in the EU after Brexit. The study maps the multiple crises that the EU has weathered in the past decade and explains how these crises, including the recent Covid-19 pandemic, reveal several substantive and institutional weaknesses in the current EU system of governance. The study considers the potentials of the nascent Conference on the Future of Europe to renew the EU and examines the obstacles and opportunities for EU treaty reforms, considering the option of channelling the Conference’s outcome into a new Political Compact, subject to new, less-than-unanimous ratification rules.

External author

FABBRINI Federico

Posted on 02-06-2020

Demography on the European agenda: Strategies for tackling demographic decline

02-06-2020

The EU faces a number of demographic challenges such as ageing, a declining birth rate and depopulation in some of its regions. The EU represents an ever-shrinking proportion of the world population, at just 6.9 % today (down from 13.5 % in 1960), and is projected to fall further to just 4.1 % by the end of this century. This is explained by the low fertility rates as the numbers of children being born has fallen from an EU-28 average of around 2.5 children per woman in 1960, to a little under 1.6 ...

The EU faces a number of demographic challenges such as ageing, a declining birth rate and depopulation in some of its regions. The EU represents an ever-shrinking proportion of the world population, at just 6.9 % today (down from 13.5 % in 1960), and is projected to fall further to just 4.1 % by the end of this century. This is explained by the low fertility rates as the numbers of children being born has fallen from an EU-28 average of around 2.5 children per woman in 1960, to a little under 1.6 today. This is far below the 2.1 births per woman considered necessary to maintain a stable population in the long term. Ageing is also another population trend in the EU. Due to advances in medicine and quality of life, the average life expectancy the EU has increased considerably and now stands at about 81 years on average. Demography matters. The economy, labour market, healthcare, pensions, regional development, and election results – all are driven by demography. EU Member States have their own strategies and policies in order to counteract demographic decline. The EU also has an auxiliary role when it comes to tackling demographic challenges. Nevertheless, the EU has limited legal powers when it comes to dealing with issues that are related to demography. The coronavirus epidemic also has an impact on demography. Covid-19 has caused many deaths of elderly people. Certain EU regions have been affected more than others from the spread of the coronavirus. Studies suggest that coronavirus has a considerable impact on EU population trends (such as number of deaths per country, reduction of life expectancy and family planning). Both the European Parliament and the European Committee of the Regions are preparing their own reports and opinions on issues that are related to demography.

Four briefings on Trade-related aspects of carbon border adjustment mechanisms

14-04-2020

Compilation of four briefings made up by European Parliament's external contractors to the attention of INTA Committee, on trade-related aspects of carbon border adjustment mechanisms.

Compilation of four briefings made up by European Parliament's external contractors to the attention of INTA Committee, on trade-related aspects of carbon border adjustment mechanisms.

External author

Dr. Cecilia Bellora, Centre d'Etudes Prospectives et d'Informations Internationales (CEPII) ; Prof. Gabriel Felbermayr, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW Kiel) ; Prof. Joost Pauwelyn, The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) and Georgetown University Law School ; Prof. André Sapir, Bruegel

Possible carbon adjustment policies: An overview

14-04-2020

The new European Commission has announced policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions drastically. Reaching an ambitious target for a global good – the climate – would require a common price for carbon worldwide. This however clashes with the free-riding problem. Furthermore, unilateral policies are not efficient since they lead to carbon leakages and distort competitiveness. To tackle these issues, the European Union can rely on different policies. Firstly, a carbon pricing of imports can combined ...

The new European Commission has announced policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions drastically. Reaching an ambitious target for a global good – the climate – would require a common price for carbon worldwide. This however clashes with the free-riding problem. Furthermore, unilateral policies are not efficient since they lead to carbon leakages and distort competitiveness. To tackle these issues, the European Union can rely on different policies. Firstly, a carbon pricing of imports can combined with an export rebate to constitute a ‘complete CBA’ (Carbon Border Adjustment) solution. Alternatively, a simple tariff at the border can compensate for differences in carbon prices between domestic and imported products. A consumption-based carbon taxation can also be contemplated. Last, a uniform tariff on imports from countries not imposing (equivalent) carbon policies may help solving the free-riding problem.

External author

Dr. Cecilia Bellora, Centre d'Etudes Prospectives et d'Informations Internationales (CEPII)

Economic assessment of Carbon Leakage and Carbon Border Adjustment

14-04-2020

The European Union is the world’s largest importer of virtual CO2-emissions: its net imports of goods and services contain more than 700 million tons of CO2 emitted outside of the EU’s territory. This is more than 20 % of the EU’s own territorial CO2 emissions. Therefore, shifting carbon pricing away from pricing the EU’s territorial emissions to pricing the EU’s CO2-footprint (by means of carbon border adjustment) enhances the reach of European climate policy activities and increases their effectiveness ...

The European Union is the world’s largest importer of virtual CO2-emissions: its net imports of goods and services contain more than 700 million tons of CO2 emitted outside of the EU’s territory. This is more than 20 % of the EU’s own territorial CO2 emissions. Therefore, shifting carbon pricing away from pricing the EU’s territorial emissions to pricing the EU’s CO2-footprint (by means of carbon border adjustment) enhances the reach of European climate policy activities and increases their effectiveness for promoting global abatement activities. The above result relies only on the EU being a net importer of CO2 emissions embodied in international trade. It does not rely on the answer to the question, whether stronger unilateral CO2 mitigation efforts in the EU cause the imports of embodied carbon to increase (direct carbon leakage). Direct carbon leakage refers to the possibility that stringent unilateral CO2 policies in the EU, e.g. in the form of high carbon prices or regulatory measures, might lead to an increase in the carbon imports embodied in trade of goods and services: as European firms’ relative production costs are driven up relative to firms in non-committed foreign countries, domestic production is replaced by imports and domestic emissions are replaced by foreign ones. This compromises the effectiveness of the EU’s climate policies and endangers jobs and value added in exposed sectors. Ex post evaluations of existing carbon policies arrive at mixed conclusions. On the one hand, emission pricing in the EU ETS, so far, is mostly not found to cause direct carbon leakage. On the other hand, studies based on a broader focus of climate policies (not just carbon prices) suggest that measures, e.g., in the context of the Kyoto Protocol, have indeed led to carbon leakage. In countries that have committed to emission targets, imports of goods have gone up by about 5 % and the carbon-intensity of imports has gone up by 8 %. Ex-ante predictions by simulation models indicate that direct leakage is indeed likely. Its size depends on the difference between the EU’s carbon prices and those of its trading partners. On average, studies indicate that about 15 % of domestic emission savings are offset by additional foreign emissions. However, the range of estimates is very large. In most studies, indirect carbon leakage that operates through global markets for fossil fuels, however, is quantitatively more important than direct carbon leakage operating through international markets for goods and services. Ex-ante models show that carbon border adjustment can reduce carbon leakage. In complete setups, it can fully eliminate direct leakage. It does little to reduce leakage through energy markets, or to incentivise countries to engage into more ambitious climate policies. Results depend crucially on the design of the mechanism. Moreover, simulations also show that the adjustment burden is shifted to non-abating countries, many of which are poor and underdeveloped. The note concludes that carbon leakage is an empirically relevant concern. Carbon border adjustments (CBAs) can lower carbon leakage occurring through goods markets. CBAs need to be treated very carefully because they might provoke retaliation by non-committed countries and because they may shift the burden of adjustment to poor countries. In the context of the EU ETS, one promising strategy could be to grant free allocations of emission permits to leakage-prone industries but combine this with a consumption tax, applied to domestic and foreign goods produced by those exempted industries.

External author

Prof. Gabriel Felbermayr, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW Kiel)

Trade Related Aspects of a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism. A Legal Assessment

14-04-2020

This briefing provides a legal assessment – under WTO and EU law - of three policy options for an EU carbon border adjustment mechanism. These options are, first, a carbon tax adjusted at the border; second, the inclusion of importers under the EU emission trading scheme; and, third, import tariffs on products from third countries that do not pursue climate policies in line with the Paris Agreement. In the first part of the briefing, these three policies are evaluated against the benchmark of vulnerability ...

This briefing provides a legal assessment – under WTO and EU law - of three policy options for an EU carbon border adjustment mechanism. These options are, first, a carbon tax adjusted at the border; second, the inclusion of importers under the EU emission trading scheme; and, third, import tariffs on products from third countries that do not pursue climate policies in line with the Paris Agreement. In the first part of the briefing, these three policies are evaluated against the benchmark of vulnerability to WTO legal challenge. The second part of the briefing assesses the EU decision-making procedures that are applicable to the three policies and the varying degrees of efficiency and democratic participation they imply.

External author

Prof. Joost Pauwelyn, The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) and Georgetown University Law School

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