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Collective intelligence at EU level: Social and democratic dimensions

31-03-2020

Humans are among the many living species capable of collaborative and imaginative thinking. While it is widely agreed among scholars that this capacity has contributed to making humans the dominant species, other crucial questions remain open to debate. Is it possible to encourage large groups of people to engage in collective thinking? Is it possible to coordinate citizens to find solutions to address global challenges? Some scholars claim that large groups of independent, motivated, and well-informed ...

Humans are among the many living species capable of collaborative and imaginative thinking. While it is widely agreed among scholars that this capacity has contributed to making humans the dominant species, other crucial questions remain open to debate. Is it possible to encourage large groups of people to engage in collective thinking? Is it possible to coordinate citizens to find solutions to address global challenges? Some scholars claim that large groups of independent, motivated, and well-informed people can, collectively, make better decisions than isolated individuals can – what is known as 'collective intelligence.' The social dimension of collective intelligence mainly relates to social aspects of the economy and of innovation. It shows that a holistic approach to innovation – one that includes not only technological but also social aspects – can greatly contribute to the EU's goal of promoting a just transition for everyone to a sustainable and green economy in the digital age. The EU has been taking concrete action to promote social innovation by supporting the development of its theory and practice. Mainly through funding programmes, it helps to seek new types of partners and build new capacity – and thus shape the future of local and national innovations aimed at societal needs. The democratic dimension suggests that the power of the collective can be leveraged so as to improve public decision-making systems. Supported by technology, policy-makers can harness the 'civic surplus' of citizens – thus providing smarter solutions to regulatory challenges. This is particularly relevant at EU level in view of the planned Conference on the Future of Europe, aimed at engaging communities at large and making EU decision-making more inclusive and participatory. The current coronavirus crisis is likely to change society and our economy in ways as yet too early to predict, but recovery after the crisis will require new ways of thinking and acting to overcome common challenges, and thus making use of our collective intelligence should be more urgent than ever. In the longer term, in order to mobilise collective intelligence across the EU and to fully exploit its innovative potential, the EU needs to strengthen its education policies and promote a shared understanding of a holistic approach to innovation and of collective intelligence – and thus become a 'global brain,' with a solid institutional set-up at the centre of a subsidised experimentation process that meets the challenges imposed by modern-day transformations.

Charles Michel as President of the European Council: The first 100+ days

30-03-2020

On 1 December 2019, Charles Michel, previously prime minister of Belgium, became the third President of the European Council. He began his term in dynamic mode, aiming to make his mark in foreign affairs and develop the EU's interinstitutional relations. While pursuing his predecessors' efforts to secure unity between EU leaders, Michel has applied his own style, visible notably in his discourse, social media presence and transparency efforts. An analysis of the President's Twitter activities shows ...

On 1 December 2019, Charles Michel, previously prime minister of Belgium, became the third President of the European Council. He began his term in dynamic mode, aiming to make his mark in foreign affairs and develop the EU's interinstitutional relations. While pursuing his predecessors' efforts to secure unity between EU leaders, Michel has applied his own style, visible notably in his discourse, social media presence and transparency efforts. An analysis of the President's Twitter activities shows his strong focus on EU-Africa relations, climate and, most recently, COVID-19.

The European Council as COVID-19 crisis manager: A comparison with previous crises

27-03-2020

The COVID-19 outbreak confronts the European Union with a severe crisis, affecting both individual EU citizens’ lives and society as a whole. Due to its role and centrality in the EU's institutional framework, the European Council is once again called upon to exercise its crisis-management role. Similarities can be drawn with past crises as regards both short and long-term responses. The main difference to previous crises, for instance, in the economy or on migration, which impacted a limited number ...

The COVID-19 outbreak confronts the European Union with a severe crisis, affecting both individual EU citizens’ lives and society as a whole. Due to its role and centrality in the EU's institutional framework, the European Council is once again called upon to exercise its crisis-management role. Similarities can be drawn with past crises as regards both short and long-term responses. The main difference to previous crises, for instance, in the economy or on migration, which impacted a limited number of EU policies, is that the COVID-19 crisis touches the entire spectrum of policies at both European and national level, making a common response more challenging, as competences are divided between the different strata of the EU's multi-level governance system. Ultimately, this crisis has the potential to reshape EU policies, leading to increased cross-policy cooperation and possibly a centrally coordinated response mechanism.

Remote voting in the European Parliament and national parliaments

25-03-2020

In the words of Parliament’s President, David Sassoli, the 'European Parliament must remain open, because a virus cannot bring down democracy'. Ways have therefore had to be found to enable Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to exercise their public duties should it become impossible for them to attend committees or plenary sessions in person. The need to keep parliaments functioning in emergency situations has been on Member States' agendas too. The European Parliament’s Bureau has taken ...

In the words of Parliament’s President, David Sassoli, the 'European Parliament must remain open, because a virus cannot bring down democracy'. Ways have therefore had to be found to enable Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to exercise their public duties should it become impossible for them to attend committees or plenary sessions in person. The need to keep parliaments functioning in emergency situations has been on Member States' agendas too. The European Parliament’s Bureau has taken the unprecedented decision to provide for remote voting during the extraordinary plenary session on 26 March so as to allow for the rapid adoption of EU legislation to tackle the socio-economic consequences of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Solidarity in EU asylum policy

23-03-2020

The unprecedented arrival of refugees and irregular migrants in the EU in 2015 exposed a number of deficiencies in EU external border, asylum and migration policy, sparking EU action through various legal and policy instruments. While the EU has been relatively successful in securing external borders, curbing irregular migrant arrivals and increasing cooperation with third countries, Member States are still reluctant to show solidarity and do more to share responsibility for asylum-seekers. International ...

The unprecedented arrival of refugees and irregular migrants in the EU in 2015 exposed a number of deficiencies in EU external border, asylum and migration policy, sparking EU action through various legal and policy instruments. While the EU has been relatively successful in securing external borders, curbing irregular migrant arrivals and increasing cooperation with third countries, Member States are still reluctant to show solidarity and do more to share responsibility for asylum-seekers. International cooperation and solidarity is key in helping to manage migration to and between states. Under international law, countries have certain legal obligations to assist and protect refugees that they accept on their territory, but the legal duties of other states to help and share that responsibility are less clear. At EU level, the principle of solidarity is set out in Article 80 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), however there is currently no consensus on whether it can be used as a stand-alone or joint legal basis for secondary legislation. Furthermore, the notions of 'solidarity' and 'fair sharing of responsibilities' for refugees or asylum-seekers are not defined in EU law. This has prompted EU institutions, academics and other stakeholders to propose different ways to resolve the issue, such as sharing out relevant tasks and pooling resources at EU level, compensating frontline Member States financially and through other contributions – such as flexible solidarity – and changing the focus of the European Court of Justice when interpreting EU asylum law. In recent years, the EU has provided the Member States most affected by migrant arrivals with significant financial and practical support, notably through the EU budget and the deployment of personnel and equipment. Nevertheless, the continued failure to reform the EU asylum system, as well as the implementation of temporary solidarity measures based on ad-hoc solutions, has exposed a crisis of solidarity that shows no signs of being resolved. The von der Leyen Commission has made it clear that the new EU asylum system 'should include finding new forms of solidarity and should ensure that all Member States make meaningful contributions to support those countries under the most pressure'.

Temporary border controls in the Schengen area

16-03-2020

Free movement across internal borders is one of the EU's most important achievements, with important benefits for EU citizens. The Schengen Borders Code (or Schengen Code) specifies the conditions under which Member States can introduce temporary checks at their internal borders in cases of serious threats to public policy or internal security. The Code was revised in 2017 in order to strengthen the EU's external borders and to help cope with unprecedented migratory pressure and cross-border security ...

Free movement across internal borders is one of the EU's most important achievements, with important benefits for EU citizens. The Schengen Borders Code (or Schengen Code) specifies the conditions under which Member States can introduce temporary checks at their internal borders in cases of serious threats to public policy or internal security. The Code was revised in 2017 in order to strengthen the EU's external borders and to help cope with unprecedented migratory pressure and cross-border security threats. A Commission legislative proposal to further update the Schengen Code in order to tighten up the rules on temporary border controls is currently with the co-legislators. The recent coronavirus outbreak has pushed several Member States to reintroduce border controls at some of the EU's internal borders in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus.

Artificial Intelligence: Opportunities and Challenges for the Internal Market and Consumer Protection

16-03-2020

Developing appropriate policies and regulations for AI is a priority for the European Union. AI has become a powerful driver of social transformation, reshaping individual lives and interactions as well as economical and political organisations. AI brings huge opportunities for development, sustainability, health and knowledge, as well as significant risks of unemployment, discrimination, exclusion, etc. Multiple areas are affected by AI, such as data protection (lawful and proportionate processing ...

Developing appropriate policies and regulations for AI is a priority for the European Union. AI has become a powerful driver of social transformation, reshaping individual lives and interactions as well as economical and political organisations. AI brings huge opportunities for development, sustainability, health and knowledge, as well as significant risks of unemployment, discrimination, exclusion, etc. Multiple areas are affected by AI, such as data protection (lawful and proportionate processing of personal data, subject to oversight), fair algorithmic treatment (not being subject to unjustified prejudice resulting from automated processing), transparency and explicability (knowing how and why a certain algorithmic response has been given or a decision made), protection from undue influence (not being misled, manipulated, or deceived). This collection of studies presents research resulting from ongoing interest of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection in improving functioning of the Digital Single Market and developing European digital and AI related policy based on scientific evidence and expertise.

Handbook on the incompatibilities and immunity of the Members of the European Parliament

16-03-2020

Upon request by the Committee on Legal Affairs, this handbook, provided by the Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs, summarises, in its first part, the EU legal framework on the incompatibilities and immunity of Members of the European Parliament. Based on national reports, the second part of the handbook gives an overview, for each EU Member State, of the relevant national provisions on the composition of national governments and parliaments as well as those on national ...

Upon request by the Committee on Legal Affairs, this handbook, provided by the Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs, summarises, in its first part, the EU legal framework on the incompatibilities and immunity of Members of the European Parliament. Based on national reports, the second part of the handbook gives an overview, for each EU Member State, of the relevant national provisions on the composition of national governments and parliaments as well as those on national parliamentary immunities. This handbook will be updated regularly based on information received; please hold as reference the date of edition.

The Unified Patent Court after Brexit

11-03-2020

Great Britain has recently made known that it does not intend to apply the International Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (UPCA).

Great Britain has recently made known that it does not intend to apply the International Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (UPCA).

Women in parliaments

25-02-2020

This 'Women in parliaments' infographic provides information on the proportion of women in national parliaments, compares representation of women in national parliaments with their numbers in the European Parliament and shows the number of women in the EP by political group. It also gives an overview of female representatives in the EP by Member State and outlines the gender quotas applicable to the 2019 EP elections. This is a further updated version of an infographic of which the previous edition ...

This 'Women in parliaments' infographic provides information on the proportion of women in national parliaments, compares representation of women in national parliaments with their numbers in the European Parliament and shows the number of women in the EP by political group. It also gives an overview of female representatives in the EP by Member State and outlines the gender quotas applicable to the 2019 EP elections. This is a further updated version of an infographic of which the previous edition was published in December 2019, PE 646.110.

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