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Plenary round-up – Brussels, September 2020

18-09-2020

The September 2020 plenary session was the sixth conducted with Members participating remotely, using the alternative voting procedure put in place in March by Parliament's Bureau, although a majority were again present in Brussels. As well as the Commission President's traditional State of the Union address, Parliament held a joint debate on the risk of breach of the rule of law and LGBTI-free zones in Poland. Parliament also debated European Commission statements on the preparation of the special ...

The September 2020 plenary session was the sixth conducted with Members participating remotely, using the alternative voting procedure put in place in March by Parliament's Bureau, although a majority were again present in Brussels. As well as the Commission President's traditional State of the Union address, Parliament held a joint debate on the risk of breach of the rule of law and LGBTI-free zones in Poland. Parliament also debated European Commission statements on the preparation of the special European Council focusing on Turkey's actions in the eastern Mediterranean, on the consequences for the single market of EU coordination of sanitary measures in the ongoing pandemic, on combatting sexual abuse and exploitation of children, and on the need for a humanitarian EU response to the situation in the Moria refugee camp. Parliament also debated statements from the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borell, on the situation in Belarus, in Lebanon and the poisoning of Alexei Navalny. Parliament also voted on legislative proposals and resolutions, including on arms exports, the Union Civil Protection Mechanism, the EU Association Agreement with Georgia, protecting world forests, EU-African security cooperation in the Sahel, type approval of motor vehicles and the importance of urban and green infrastructure.

What if 'rewilding' could help reverse biodiversity loss in Europe?

18-09-2020

Biodiversity is in crisis across the globe: species extinctions and a loss of nature occurring at rates unprecedented in human history, and with the EU no exception, our biodiversity and the essential value it brings are under threat. Could 'rewilding' help restore Europe's nature?

Biodiversity is in crisis across the globe: species extinctions and a loss of nature occurring at rates unprecedented in human history, and with the EU no exception, our biodiversity and the essential value it brings are under threat. Could 'rewilding' help restore Europe's nature?

The European Parliament’s carbon footprint: Towards carbon neutrality

14-09-2020

The study analyses the European Parliament’s (EP) carbon footprint in the context of the recent EP resolutions, in which it declared a climate emergency in Europe and requested the development of a strategy to become itself carbon-neutral by 2030. The analysis takes into account the various sources contributing to the EP’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, including those related to its function in three different sites and the traveling of its Members and staff. This document was prepared by the Policy ...

The study analyses the European Parliament’s (EP) carbon footprint in the context of the recent EP resolutions, in which it declared a climate emergency in Europe and requested the development of a strategy to become itself carbon-neutral by 2030. The analysis takes into account the various sources contributing to the EP’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, including those related to its function in three different sites and the traveling of its Members and staff. This document was prepared by the Policy Department for Economic, Scientific and Quality of Life Policies, and the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) Unit at the request of the committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI).

Forests in south-east Asia: Can they be saved?

11-09-2020

Nowhere in the world are forests shrinking faster than in south-east Asia. Rapid population growth and economic development put intense pressure on the environment. Between 1990 and 2020, an area larger than Germany was deforested, over half of it in Indonesia. Land clearing for agriculture is the main cause of deforestation. Driven by booming global demand, oil palm plantations have spread into formerly forested land, especially in Indonesia and Malaysia, which are the world's largest producers. ...

Nowhere in the world are forests shrinking faster than in south-east Asia. Rapid population growth and economic development put intense pressure on the environment. Between 1990 and 2020, an area larger than Germany was deforested, over half of it in Indonesia. Land clearing for agriculture is the main cause of deforestation. Driven by booming global demand, oil palm plantations have spread into formerly forested land, especially in Indonesia and Malaysia, which are the world's largest producers. Logging, much of it illegal, is also a serious threat to the region's forests. Deforestation destroys the habitats of iconic large mammals such as the orang-utan and tiger, as well as thousands of lesser-known, but still vital, animal and plant species; it also contributes to climate change. Smoke from fires on forested and cleared land causes economic disruption and thousands of premature deaths. Worrying though all this is, there are tentative signs of change. With international encouragement, south-east Asian governments are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of balanced development. Significant efforts are being made to protect forests and to make timber and palm oil production more sustainable. Perhaps reflecting such efforts, the pace of deforestation in most countries has come down slightly since a mid-2010s peak. However, it is too early to say whether this improvement can be sustained. The EU has played a leading role in helping south-east Asian countries to curb deforestation, for example by helping them to tackle illegal logging. It has also revised its biofuels policy to ensure that European demand for palm oil does not exacerbate the problem.

Sustainable and smart transport in Europe

10-09-2020

Innovation will be critical for economic recovery – and the transport sector offers many opportunities for innovation to help drive the post-pandemic economy forward. The European recovery plan, centred around the Green Deal, places great emphasis on the growth potential of transforming the economy to a greener model and taking advantage of technological advancements and digitalisation to bolster European industrial competitiveness. The strategy for sustainable and smart mobility to be tabled at ...

Innovation will be critical for economic recovery – and the transport sector offers many opportunities for innovation to help drive the post-pandemic economy forward. The European recovery plan, centred around the Green Deal, places great emphasis on the growth potential of transforming the economy to a greener model and taking advantage of technological advancements and digitalisation to bolster European industrial competitiveness. The strategy for sustainable and smart mobility to be tabled at the end of 2020, as part of the Green Deal initiatives, will play a significant role in defining the way ahead, as well as in addressing pandemic-related concerns, in the field of mobility. Key priorities will include developing sustainable urban mobility, harnessing technological development and digitalisation, addressing transport emissions, ensuring resilience of the transport sector and ensuring movement of goods and connectivity. To feed into these discussions, this paper will survey the challenges presented by the pandemic for urban mobility, and the potential of new technologies and digitalisation to provide solutions as well as to support the 'greening' of transport. It will review the continued challenges of sustainability in the transport sector and trends in decarbonisation with the help of fuel and vehicle innovations. It will also outline EU actions to date in these areas and provide some suggestions for potential future action, including areas to consider for measures to boost the resilience of the transport sector.

What if fashion were good for the planet?

10-09-2020

Fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world, coming just after oil. Clothing manufacture and consumption have a huge negative impact on both the environment and people. Sustainability is not only about the environment, but is also an economic and social indicator, and the clothing industry is a good example illustrating their interconnections. Are technological innovations alone enough to 'tailor' a green and fair future for fashion?

Fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world, coming just after oil. Clothing manufacture and consumption have a huge negative impact on both the environment and people. Sustainability is not only about the environment, but is also an economic and social indicator, and the clothing industry is a good example illustrating their interconnections. Are technological innovations alone enough to 'tailor' a green and fair future for fashion?

Reducing CO2 emissions of maritime transport

10-09-2020

CO2 emissions from international maritime transport contribute significantly to climate change. Currently there are two separate, but overlapping systems for monitoring and reporting these emissions: a data collection system (DCS) mandated by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the EU monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) system. The Commission has proposed to revise the EU system to align it with the IMO DCS. The European Parliament's Committee on Environment, Public Health ...

CO2 emissions from international maritime transport contribute significantly to climate change. Currently there are two separate, but overlapping systems for monitoring and reporting these emissions: a data collection system (DCS) mandated by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the EU monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) system. The Commission has proposed to revise the EU system to align it with the IMO DCS. The European Parliament's Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) seeks to amend the Commission proposal to strengthen its provisions. The report is expected to be voted in plenary in September.

An EU legal framework to halt and reverse EU-driven global deforestation: European added value assessment

08-09-2020

Deforestation caused by agricultural activity is continuing at an alarming rate, threatening irreplaceable tropical forests that, among other things, are crucial for fighting climate change. The EU bears its share of responsibility for this environmental loss, as it is one of the major importers of several forest-risk commodities. To date, action has been taken at different levels to stop commodity-driven deforestation. Nevertheless, the impact on forest loss has been low as deforestation continues ...

Deforestation caused by agricultural activity is continuing at an alarming rate, threatening irreplaceable tropical forests that, among other things, are crucial for fighting climate change. The EU bears its share of responsibility for this environmental loss, as it is one of the major importers of several forest-risk commodities. To date, action has been taken at different levels to stop commodity-driven deforestation. Nevertheless, the impact on forest loss has been low as deforestation continues and new hot spots occur. There has been a recent commitment at EU level to propose new measures to minimise the risk of deforestation and forest degradation associated with products placed on the EU market. This European added value assessment (EAVA) accompanies the European Parliament's own-initiative legislative report calling on the European Commission to take legislative action on the matter. The EAVA looks at why EU action is needed and analyses four potential demand-side regulatory policy options at EU level. A quantitative analysis reveals that to varying extents, all options have the potential to reduce EU-driven deforestation and associated carbon emissions, while having a relatively small impact on the EU economy

The role of fiscal rules in relation with the green economy

31-08-2020

This study argues that to achieve the necessary green transition in the EU, additional public investment by Member States will need to be mobilised throughout the next decade. In light of the macroeconomic environment of very low interest rates, this calls for a reform of the EU fiscal framework. The paper discusses three approaches for a reform of the fiscal rules to better reflect the need for higher (debt-financed) green public investment: (1) an exemption clause for green public investment; ( ...

This study argues that to achieve the necessary green transition in the EU, additional public investment by Member States will need to be mobilised throughout the next decade. In light of the macroeconomic environment of very low interest rates, this calls for a reform of the EU fiscal framework. The paper discusses three approaches for a reform of the fiscal rules to better reflect the need for higher (debt-financed) green public investment: (1) an exemption clause for green public investment; (2) the implementation of a green golden rule; (3) a country-specific benchmark share of government expenditures dedicated to green public investment recommended by the European Commission.

Autor externo

Atanas Pekanov, Margit Schratzenstaller

Ten opportunities for Europe post-coronavirus: Exploring potential for progress in EU policy-making

29-07-2020

Whilst much commentary and analysis has understandably been focused on reaction to, and mitigation of, the immediate impact of the coronavirus crisis in Europe and worldwide, relatively little attention has been paid to areas of potential opportunity which the crisis may offer to improve policy for the future. This EPRS analysis looks at ten areas which may offer potential for progress, including working more closely together on health policy, using climate action to promote a sustainable recovery ...

Whilst much commentary and analysis has understandably been focused on reaction to, and mitigation of, the immediate impact of the coronavirus crisis in Europe and worldwide, relatively little attention has been paid to areas of potential opportunity which the crisis may offer to improve policy for the future. This EPRS analysis looks at ten areas which may offer potential for progress, including working more closely together on health policy, using climate action to promote a sustainable recovery, re-thinking the world of work, future-proofing education, harnessing e commerce and championing European values and multilateralism.

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