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Protecting the EU budget against generalised rule of law deficiencies

25-06-2020

When preparing the 2021-2027 multiannual financial framework, the European Commission proposed to strengthen the link between EU funding and respect for the rule of law. To this end, on 3 May 2018, the Commission presented a proposal for a regulation that would introduce a general rule of law conditionality into the EU's financial rules. Any Member State where a generalised rule of law deficiency is found could be subject to the suspension of payments and commitments, reduced funding and a prohibition ...

When preparing the 2021-2027 multiannual financial framework, the European Commission proposed to strengthen the link between EU funding and respect for the rule of law. To this end, on 3 May 2018, the Commission presented a proposal for a regulation that would introduce a general rule of law conditionality into the EU's financial rules. Any Member State where a generalised rule of law deficiency is found could be subject to the suspension of payments and commitments, reduced funding and a prohibition on concluding new commitments. On 13 November 2019, the decision of the European Parliament's Budget and Budgetary Control Committees to enter interinstitutional negotiations on the proposal was announced in plenary. Negotiations will be based on Parliament's first-reading position adopted in plenary in April 2019. Parliament's main amendments are concerned with the definition of generalised deficiencies, procedural issues (the panel of independent experts and the need to put Parliament on an equal footing with Council), and with the protection of end beneficiaries of EU funding. The rule of law conditionality has become an important element of the negotiations on the legislative package for the 2021-2027 MFF and the Recovery Instrument for the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic. Second edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Peace, justice and strong institutions: EU support for implementing SDG 16 worldwide

04-02-2020

The 16th sustainable development goal (SDG 16) to 'Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels' represents a new milestone compared with the earlier millennium development goals. While several of its targets (such as peace, corruption-free institutions and freedom from violence) were once seen as prerequisites of sustainable development, the adoption of SDG 16 marked ...

The 16th sustainable development goal (SDG 16) to 'Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels' represents a new milestone compared with the earlier millennium development goals. While several of its targets (such as peace, corruption-free institutions and freedom from violence) were once seen as prerequisites of sustainable development, the adoption of SDG 16 marked the first time that they were globally recognised as development objectives in themselves. To achieve universal recognition, SDG 16 leaves out explicit reference to internationally recognised political and civil rights norms, attracting some criticism. Its very general scope has also stirred controversy regarding the type of data required in order to assess progress rigorously. The state of play with regard to the implementation of SDG 16 indicates that substantial progress is still needed in order to achieve the SDG targets by 2030. Violent conflicts continue to affect many parts of the world, societal violence remains widespread in many countries and violence against children in particular remains a pervasive phenomenon, especially in developing countries. At the same time, fundamental freedoms have come under increased attack from regimes that disrespect human rights and undermine international and national norms in this area. The EU has committed to contributing to the achievement of all the SDGs, and the specific targets of SDG 16 have been given special recognition. From the Global Strategy to the 'new consensus on development', various policy documents acknowledge the crucial role of peace, democracy, human rights and the rule of law for sustainable development. The interconnection between the pursuit of these fundamental values and EU efforts to help developing countries achieve the SDGs is obvious in numerous measures undertaken in the framework of EU external action. The European Parliament is a strong champion for these values in the world.

The von der Leyen Commission's priorities for 2019-2024

28-01-2020

In her statements to the European Parliament in July and November 2019, as candidate for European Commission President and President-elect respectively, Ursula von der Leyen outlined the six political priorities that would shape the working programme of the European Commission over the next five years. While the former Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, had claimed to lead a 'political Commission', his successor, Ursula von der Leyen, has pledged to lead a 'geopolitical Commission'. Such ...

In her statements to the European Parliament in July and November 2019, as candidate for European Commission President and President-elect respectively, Ursula von der Leyen outlined the six political priorities that would shape the working programme of the European Commission over the next five years. While the former Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, had claimed to lead a 'political Commission', his successor, Ursula von der Leyen, has pledged to lead a 'geopolitical Commission'. Such a Commission will have a political agenda in which reinforcing the EU's role as a relevant international actor, and trying to shape a better global order through reinforcing multilateralism, is to become a key priority ('A stronger Europe in the world'). The other main political priorities of the Commission are brought together under five broad headings: 'A European Green Deal', 'A Europe fit for the digital age', 'An economy that works for people', 'A new push for European democracy', and 'Promoting the European way of life'. Together they define the framework within which the Commission will act in the coming five years. The structure and working methods announced by von der Leyen show that her Commission will differ from its predecessors in a number of ways.

Bolivia: A test for democracy

16-01-2020

Bolivia's Evo Morales was probably the most successful among the presidents belonging to the left-wing movements that swept across the Latin American region in the early 2000s. However, his insistence on clinging to power in defiance of the Constitution and the will of the majority of Bolivians, including many of his former supporters, ultimately led to his demise and sparked political conflict. Nevertheless, the agreement reached between all parties to call new elections gives hope for the future ...

Bolivia's Evo Morales was probably the most successful among the presidents belonging to the left-wing movements that swept across the Latin American region in the early 2000s. However, his insistence on clinging to power in defiance of the Constitution and the will of the majority of Bolivians, including many of his former supporters, ultimately led to his demise and sparked political conflict. Nevertheless, the agreement reached between all parties to call new elections gives hope for the future and could be an example for other countries in the region to emulate.

Taking stock of EU human rights and democracy action: Annual report for 2018

09-01-2020

The annual report on human rights and democracy in the world is a comprehensive exercise that takes stock of all European Union (EU) actions in the human rights and democracy field. The report provides the European Parliament with an opportunity to recommend future EU action, considering current challenges, in its yearly resolution adopted in response to the EU report. The report for 2018 underlines that the EU should continue to play a leading role in tackling global democracy and human rights challenges ...

The annual report on human rights and democracy in the world is a comprehensive exercise that takes stock of all European Union (EU) actions in the human rights and democracy field. The report provides the European Parliament with an opportunity to recommend future EU action, considering current challenges, in its yearly resolution adopted in response to the EU report. The report for 2018 underlines that the EU should continue to play a leading role in tackling global democracy and human rights challenges, a view shared by the Parliament.

Global Trendometer 2019

18-12-2019

The new Global Trendometer examines topics ranging from deliberative democracy and the future of social policy in Europe, to scenarios for Northern Africa, China's social credit system, the auditing of algorithms and space as a new frontier.

The new Global Trendometer examines topics ranging from deliberative democracy and the future of social policy in Europe, to scenarios for Northern Africa, China's social credit system, the auditing of algorithms and space as a new frontier.

The sharp power of knowledge: Foreign authoritarian meddling in academia

06-12-2019

The visibility of, and focus on, authoritarian hybrid threats – a mix of conventional and non-conventional hostile activities to undermine democracies – is increasing. Techniques and technologies keep evolving, and a growing number of authoritarian actors are adopting and adapting different tools to further their agendas. In this context, 'soft power' exerted through academic institutions and universities can become a 'sharp' hybrid tool, undermining academic independence and further eroding trust ...

The visibility of, and focus on, authoritarian hybrid threats – a mix of conventional and non-conventional hostile activities to undermine democracies – is increasing. Techniques and technologies keep evolving, and a growing number of authoritarian actors are adopting and adapting different tools to further their agendas. In this context, 'soft power' exerted through academic institutions and universities can become a 'sharp' hybrid tool, undermining academic independence and further eroding trust in facts and science.

Protecting the rule of law in the EU: Existing mechanisms and possible improvements

06-11-2019

Under the rule of law, governmental powers are limited by law and may be exercised only on the basis of law. An independent judiciary is indispensable to guaranteeing this state of affairs, and appropriate procedures, including legal remedies, must be in place to guarantee that individuals can protect their rights and trigger judicial review of governmental action. The rule of law has been an enduring basic value of the European Union from its inception, and the principles of the rule of law have ...

Under the rule of law, governmental powers are limited by law and may be exercised only on the basis of law. An independent judiciary is indispensable to guaranteeing this state of affairs, and appropriate procedures, including legal remedies, must be in place to guarantee that individuals can protect their rights and trigger judicial review of governmental action. The rule of law has been an enduring basic value of the European Union from its inception, and the principles of the rule of law have been enshrined in the case law of the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The EU's very design is based on a shared responsibility for upholding and enforcing EU law, which is the joint task of the ECJ and national courts. The rule of law within the Member States, at least in areas covered by EU law, is therefore indispensable for the proper functioning of the Union and its legal system. Furthermore, the rule of law is one of the EU's fundamental values, enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union, which must be respected by the Member States, including in areas not covered by EU law. Should an EU Member State be suspected of breaching the rule of law, a number of procedures are available to verify this and, if needed, remedy the situation. First of all, there are three 'soft' mechanisms, which do not give rise to legally binding results, yet nevertheless have a certain political resonance and can be seen as a preparatory step towards legal action. These include the transitional 'special cooperation and verification mechanism' (included in the Act of Accession for Bulgaria and Romania), the Commission's rule of law framework, and the Council's annual dialogues on the rule of law. Apart from these 'soft' mechanisms, three legal procedures are also available which, if concluded, can produce legally binding results. First of all, infringement proceedings can be brought by the Commission if the alleged breach could also amount to the violation of a specific rule of EU law. Secondly, national courts from a Member State in which the rule of law is breached may refer preliminary questions to the ECJ, seeking guidance on the interpretation of EU law with a view to assessing the compatibility of national legislation. Finally, the breach of values procedure can be triggered, possibly leading to the suspension of a Member State's membership rights. This briefing has been 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.

Kazakhstan: Transition, but not much change

18-10-2019

Nursultan Nazarbayev, president of Kazakhstan for nearly 30 years, announced his intention to step down in March 2019. With Nazarbayev's backing, former senate speaker Kassym-Jomart Tokayev was elected to replace him in June. Although Nazarbayev is no longer president, he retains considerable power, and in the short term at least his successor is not expected to undertake major reforms.

Nursultan Nazarbayev, president of Kazakhstan for nearly 30 years, announced his intention to step down in March 2019. With Nazarbayev's backing, former senate speaker Kassym-Jomart Tokayev was elected to replace him in June. Although Nazarbayev is no longer president, he retains considerable power, and in the short term at least his successor is not expected to undertake major reforms.

Ukraine: Navigating multiple challenges

07-10-2019

Five years after the 'revolution of dignity', in which Ukrainians demanded a functioning democracy and an end to kleptocracy, the country elected a new President in April 2019 and a new Parliament in July. The new leaders in Kyiv are facing a wide range of persistent challenges. Russia's ongoing hybrid war against the country, including the illegal occupation of Crimea and the war in eastern Ukraine, as well as the continued reform process dominate the agenda. The High Representative of the Union ...

Five years after the 'revolution of dignity', in which Ukrainians demanded a functioning democracy and an end to kleptocracy, the country elected a new President in April 2019 and a new Parliament in July. The new leaders in Kyiv are facing a wide range of persistent challenges. Russia's ongoing hybrid war against the country, including the illegal occupation of Crimea and the war in eastern Ukraine, as well as the continued reform process dominate the agenda. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission is expected to make a statement on the situation in Ukraine during the October I plenary session.

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