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Plenary round-up – Strasbourg, September 2019

20-09-2019

Highlights of the September plenary session included statements and debates on the preparation for the Climate Action Summit and the Sustainable Development Goals Summit in New York, on the importance of European remembrance for the future of Europe, and on the implementation of anti-money laundering legislation. A further debate on the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the EU was held, Parliament’s first since the change of prime minister in the UK. Parliament also debated statements made on behalf ...

Highlights of the September plenary session included statements and debates on the preparation for the Climate Action Summit and the Sustainable Development Goals Summit in New York, on the importance of European remembrance for the future of Europe, and on the implementation of anti-money laundering legislation. A further debate on the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the EU was held, Parliament’s first since the change of prime minister in the UK. Parliament also debated statements made on behalf of the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on the political situation in Hong Kong, Burkina Faso, Colombia and Kashmir. Debates also took place on Council and Commission statements on the fires in the Amazon, forests in the EU, and cases of breaches of human rights. Members voted to approve Christine Lagarde's nomination as President of the European Central Bank, and voted on a series of reports on amendments to the 2019 budget.

EU challenges at a time of transition [What Think Tanks are thinking]

06-09-2019

The European Union faces numerous challenges, both short and long-term, as it prepares to choose the new executive, a European Commission for the next five years, following elections to the European Parliament in May 2019. The most immediate task is for European Commission President-elect, Ursula von der Leyen, to put together a college of Commissioners and secure its approval by the European Parliament. The EU is also engaged in difficult talks on the terms of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from ...

The European Union faces numerous challenges, both short and long-term, as it prepares to choose the new executive, a European Commission for the next five years, following elections to the European Parliament in May 2019. The most immediate task is for European Commission President-elect, Ursula von der Leyen, to put together a college of Commissioners and secure its approval by the European Parliament. The EU is also engaged in difficult talks on the terms of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU, currently due on 31 October. On the economic front, the EU needs to deal with the fallout of a trade conflict between the United States and China, and to boost its competitiveness, as the two other global powerhouses swiftly pursue the digitalisation of their economies. In the face of political volatility in the US, Europe should also consider enhancing its defence capabilities. Last, but not least, the Union must deliver on its pledge to remain the world’s leader in efforts to fight climate change. This note brings together recent commentaries, analyses and studies by major international think tanks and research institutes on challenges facing the EU. More papers analysing the outcome of the European Elections can be found in a previous edition of ‘What Think Tanks are Thinking’, published in July.

Appointment of the President of the ECB

24-07-2019

During the September 2019 plenary sitting, the European Parliament is expected to vote on a resolution on the candidate (Christine Lagarde) for the position of President of the European Central Bank (ECB), to succeed Mario Draghi, whose term is due to end on 1 November 2019. The President is appointed by the European Council, while Parliament and the Bank’s Governing Council are consulted. Prior to the vote, the candidate will receive a series of questions for written answer, and be invited to a ...

During the September 2019 plenary sitting, the European Parliament is expected to vote on a resolution on the candidate (Christine Lagarde) for the position of President of the European Central Bank (ECB), to succeed Mario Draghi, whose term is due to end on 1 November 2019. The President is appointed by the European Council, while Parliament and the Bank’s Governing Council are consulted. Prior to the vote, the candidate will receive a series of questions for written answer, and be invited to a hearing before the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee (ECON). The ECB President is a key figure within the Eurosystem when setting monetary policy for the euro area.

Parliamentary hearings of the Commissioners-designate: A decisive step in the investiture process

24-07-2019

The hearings of the Commissioners-designate before the European Parliament's committees are a necessary ingredient in informing Parliament's decision to give its consent to, or reject, the proposed College. Each Commissioner-designate appears before a single hearing, involving one or more parliamentary committees, after responding to a written questionnaire and presenting his or her declaration of interests. In past hearings, the main points of criticism were some candidates’ lack of specialist knowledge ...

The hearings of the Commissioners-designate before the European Parliament's committees are a necessary ingredient in informing Parliament's decision to give its consent to, or reject, the proposed College. Each Commissioner-designate appears before a single hearing, involving one or more parliamentary committees, after responding to a written questionnaire and presenting his or her declaration of interests. In past hearings, the main points of criticism were some candidates’ lack of specialist knowledge of their portfolio, their vague answers and reluctance to make commitments, the existence of possible conflicts of interests in relation to the assigned portfolio and concerns regarding the integrity of the candidate. From the 2004 investiture on, Parliament has used its role in the appointment of the Commission to press for the replacement of certain controversial candidates and to force adjustments to certain portfolios, although it can only reject or accept the College as a whole. Whilst some experts warn of excessive politicisation of the hearings, others welcome the increased accountability of the Commission to Parliament, and see the deepening political link between the two as a step towards further democratisation of the EU decision-making process. Hearings have become critical for Parliament's holding the Commission to account, and are gaining in significance as a means for Parliament to take a greater role in agenda-setting at EU level.

Plenary round-up – Strasbourg, July II 2019

18-07-2019

The main highlight of the July II plenary session was the election of Ursula von der Leyen as President of the European Commission. Other highlights included a statement by Viorica Dăncilă, Prime Minister of Romania, on the outcome of that country's Council presidency, and by Antti Rinne, Prime Minister of Finland on the priorities for the current Finnish Council Presidency. Parliament also debated statements by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs ...

The main highlight of the July II plenary session was the election of Ursula von der Leyen as President of the European Commission. Other highlights included a statement by Viorica Dăncilă, Prime Minister of Romania, on the outcome of that country's Council presidency, and by Antti Rinne, Prime Minister of Finland on the priorities for the current Finnish Council Presidency. Parliament also debated statements by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on implementation of the EU Global Strategy, and the situation in Venezuela (also adopting a resolution), in the Persian Gulf and in Moldova. Debates were also held on Council and Commission statements on humanitarian assistance in the Mediterranean and clean air zones in EU cities. Members also decided on the numerical strength of the interparliamentary delegations.

European Central Bank appointments: Role of the European Parliament

15-07-2019

The European Parliament plays an important role in the appointment processes of two European Central Bank bodies: the Executive Board and the Supervisory Board (Chair and Vice-Chair). This paper aims to: a) provide an overview of the relevant procedural provisions, b) present a selection of past appointments; and c) describe the evolving role of the European Parliament in those procedures. This document was prepared by Policy Department A for the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee.

The European Parliament plays an important role in the appointment processes of two European Central Bank bodies: the Executive Board and the Supervisory Board (Chair and Vice-Chair). This paper aims to: a) provide an overview of the relevant procedural provisions, b) present a selection of past appointments; and c) describe the evolving role of the European Parliament in those procedures. This document was prepared by Policy Department A for the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee.

Role and election of the President of the European Commission

12-07-2019

The President of the European Commission has taken on an ever more prominent leading role within the College of Commissioners, with the increasingly presidential system eclipsing the principle of collegiate decision-making. With the European Parliament now more involved in the appointment, the Presidency has not only become a much more politicised office, but the President has also gained greater influence vis-à-vis the other members of the Commission. The Commission President plays a crucial role ...

The President of the European Commission has taken on an ever more prominent leading role within the College of Commissioners, with the increasingly presidential system eclipsing the principle of collegiate decision-making. With the European Parliament now more involved in the appointment, the Presidency has not only become a much more politicised office, but the President has also gained greater influence vis-à-vis the other members of the Commission. The Commission President plays a crucial role in relations between Parliament and Commission. Presenting his or her priorities to Parliament prior to election sets the course for the whole term, on which the President will be called to account by Parliament. Building on this, Parliament has an increasingly prominent role in political agenda-setting, shaping the EU's legislative programming together with the Commission and the Council. At the end of President Barroso's second term as Commission President, many had criticised the lack of ambitious initiatives undertaken, whereas others believe that the economic and institutional difficulties which the EU faced made this inevitable. The legacy of President Juncker's mandate can claim, on the one hand, to show progress in trade and defence, although some maintain that more ambition could have been displayed in other areas, for instance on the digital market or monetary union. On the other hand, the Juncker Commission introduced some significant changes in the College's working methods and a more political role for the Commission. Whereas Jean-Claude Juncker had been a Spitzenkandidat (lead candidate) in the European elections, Ursula von der Leyen, nominated as candidate for the Commission presidency by the European Council on 2 July, was not. As none of the Spitzenkandidaten were seen to have a clear majority in Parliament, it remains to be seen whether an 'outsider' from that process can muster the support of the required majority of Parliament's component Members at the time of the election, currently planned for the July II plenary session. This is an updated edition of a 2014 briefing drafted by Eva-Maria Poptcheva.

The European elections and thereafter [What Think Tanks are Thinking]

12-07-2019

On 23-26 May, 2019, European Union citizens elected a more fragmented European Parliament than its predecessor, with the two main political groups – the European People’s Party and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats losing some ground, and the Liberals, now known as Renew Europe, and the Greens/European Free Alliance strengthening their representation. Gains made by Eurosceptic and populist groups proved more limited than had been predicted. This note brings together commentaries ...

On 23-26 May, 2019, European Union citizens elected a more fragmented European Parliament than its predecessor, with the two main political groups – the European People’s Party and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats losing some ground, and the Liberals, now known as Renew Europe, and the Greens/European Free Alliance strengthening their representation. Gains made by Eurosceptic and populist groups proved more limited than had been predicted. This note brings together commentaries, analyses and studies by major international think tanks and research institutes on the European elections and their aftermath.

Walter Hallstein: First President of the Commission and visionary of European integration

11-07-2019

When Walter Hallstein became the first President of the European Economic Community Commission, in 1958, a long career already lay behind him: legal scholar, university professor, research manager, diplomat and German government representative at the conferences drafting the founding treaties of the European Coal and Steel Community and then the European Economic Community. The federalist ideas he developed and the emphasis he placed on supranational institutions remain among his most important legacies ...

When Walter Hallstein became the first President of the European Economic Community Commission, in 1958, a long career already lay behind him: legal scholar, university professor, research manager, diplomat and German government representative at the conferences drafting the founding treaties of the European Coal and Steel Community and then the European Economic Community. The federalist ideas he developed and the emphasis he placed on supranational institutions remain among his most important legacies. Equally significant was his administrative capacity to build an institution of a completely new type and to anticipate policies that seemed utopian at the time but turned out to be necessary many years later. This impetus to push for further integration earned Hallstein strong opposition from several national leaders, and eventually led to his precipitous departure. This briefing recalls three principal aspects of Hallstein's life: as a scholar and research administrator, as a protagonist of German foreign policy and, of course, as a crucial architect of the early period of European integration.

Members of the European Parliament, 2019-2024

10-07-2019

In May 2019, European citizens voted on their representatives in the European Parliament for the next five years, to defend their interests in the EU. This year’s election had a turnout of 51%, an increase of 8.3 percentage points from the previous election in 2014. It is also the first time since 1999 that more than half of adult citizens voted. The 751 MEPs elected have an average age of 50 years (with the youngest being 21 and the oldest 82). There is a majority of new MEPs(435). Women represent ...

In May 2019, European citizens voted on their representatives in the European Parliament for the next five years, to defend their interests in the EU. This year’s election had a turnout of 51%, an increase of 8.3 percentage points from the previous election in 2014. It is also the first time since 1999 that more than half of adult citizens voted. The 751 MEPs elected have an average age of 50 years (with the youngest being 21 and the oldest 82). There is a majority of new MEPs(435). Women represent 40.4% of all MEPs.

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