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Posted on 19-12-2018

EMAS in the European Parliament: A quiet success story

Briefing - 19-12-2018

The European Union (EU) Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) is a voluntary management instrument for companies and other organisations wanting to evaluate, report and continuously improve their environmental performance. In order to register with EMAS, organisations must meet the requirements of the EU EMAS Regulation – (EC) No 1221/2009 – and the ISO 14001:2015 standards. In 2007, as part of its commitment to making a long-term contribution to sustainable development, the European Parliament became one of the few EU institutions and the first parliament in the EU to obtain EMAS certification. Through its environmental management system it is able to track progress with regard to reducing carbon dioxide emissions and waste, promoting the efficient use of energy, water and paper, incorporating environmental guidelines into procurement procedures, and raising awareness of environmentally friendly behaviour among its staff and Members. This document details the Parliament's progress to date in meeting its targets in all of the above-mentioned areas, and maps out its ambitions for the future.

Posted on 18-12-2018

The 2018 Ibero-American summit

At a Glance - 18-12-2018

The Ibero-American Summit of heads of state or government is a unique multilateral forum of 22 countries from Latin America and Europe sharing a common history, values, culture and languages. Two EU Member States – Spain and Portugal – are full members of the summit, and four others are associated observers. The 26th summit was held in Guatemala in November 2018, with a focus on establishing a common road map towards implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

European Agency for the operational management of large-scale IT systems in the area of freedom, security and justice (eu-LISA)

Briefing - 18-12-2018

The European Agency for the operational management of large-scale IT systems in the area of freedom, security and justice (eu-LISA) is responsible for the operational management of the three large-scale EU information systems: the Schengen Information System (SIS II), the Visa Information System (VIS), and Eurodac. The Commission proposed to strengthen the mandate of eu-LISA, as part of a broader set of measures aimed at addressing current migration and security challenges by making better use of information technologies. Adopted by parliament and Council in autumn 2018, the Agency’s new tasks, applicable from 11 December 2018, include ensuring interoperability of EU information systems, upgrade of existing and development of future systems and technical and operational support to Member States. Second edition of a briefing originally drafted by Costica Dumbrava. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

European Maritime Single Window environment

Briefing - 18-12-2018

This briefing analyses the impact assessment accompanying the legislative proposal of the Commission to establish the European Maritime Single Window environment (EMSWe). The goal of the EMSWe is to decrease and harmonise throughout the EU, the reporting formalities and obligations of the maritime operators when calling at ports in the EU. The IA provides the overview of the main problems of the existing legislation and the policy options considered by the Commission to deal with them. Despite some minor inconsistencies, the IA provides a solid analysis of the current problems related to reporting obligations of ships when calling at a port.

Implementation of the European Fund for Strategic Investments: From EFSI 1.0 to 2.0 and beyond

Briefing - 18-12-2018

The European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), one element of the ‘Juncker Plan’, was proposed in 2015 with the aim of covering part of the investment gap that occurred as a consequence of the global financial and European sovereign debt crises. In the absence of adequate public investment, the plan would mobilise private investment in specific areas through the use of first-loss guarantees provided from the EU budget. It was estimated that, through the provision of €21 billion in guarantees, a total investment of €315 billion would be generated by end-2017. Given its promising start as well as the broadly positive overall evaluations by the European Commission, the European Investment Bank and EY, it was soon decided to extend EFSI's duration and guarantees, allowing the fund to unlock additional investment of at least €500 billion by the end of 2020. EFSI – now called 'EFSI 2.0' – was also amended with a view to improving its governance and transparency. Four years after its inception, EFSI seems to be fulfilling its promise. Indeed, figures from October 2018 show €67.3 billion worth of approved EFSI financing, which is expected to mobilise €344.4 billion in investment. Furthermore, while the total funding generated will only be visible after a few more years have elapsed, the additionality and complementarity of the projects signed bode well. Nevertheless, the picture will be more complete after the end of the ongoing audit by the Court of Auditors. For the period of the next multiannual financial framework (2021-2027), EFSI 2.0 will be replaced by a yet broader programme, InvestEU (subject of a separate EPRS briefing), which is expected to generate an additional €650 billion over the period.

Posted on 17-12-2018

The Venezuelan migrant crisis: A growing emergency for the region

Briefing - 17-12-2018

Although the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has traditionally been a country of destination for migrants, around 2010 its migratory profile started to change to that of a country of origin. In fact, in the past few years migration away from Venezuela has reached massive levels, creating an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in the region. According to the United Nations' International Organization for Migration (IOM), the number of Venezuelans abroad has risen from under 700 000 in 2015 to 3 million in November 2018. About 70 % of this human wave has been directed to South American countries such as Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina and Brazil, but also to North and Central America and the Caribbean, and even Europe. The main factors contributing to this exodus are Venezuela's deteriorating political situation, a severe economic crisis and increasing violence. This mass migration could have a destabilising effect on the main recipient and transit countries. Besides individual responses developed by host countries to provide migrants with emergency assistance and protection and to facilitate their integration, Latin American countries are trying to give a coordinated regional response to the crisis. Furthermore, migration authorities, ombudsmen and NGOs have also promoted regional initiatives to defend the rights of Venezuelan migrants abroad and their access to basic services. The UN and regional organisations are also working to help deal with the crisis, and the EU is contributing €35.1 million in emergency aid and medium-term development assistance for the Venezuelan people and the affected neighbouring countries. The European Parliament sent an ad hoc mission to Brazil and Colombia in June 2018 to assess the situation, and has adopted resolutions on the subject.

Uzbekistan comes in from the cold: A new era of reforms

Briefing - 17-12-2018

Until recently, Uzbekistan was one of the most repressive countries in the world. Under its long-time leader Islam Karimov, human rights abuses included torture, child and forced adult labour, as well as severe restrictions on religious freedom, the media and civil society. Following Karimov's death in 2016, his successor Shavkat Mirziyoyev has launched an ambitious reform programme. Some of the worst human rights abuses (such as torture and forced labour) have been phased out, or at least diminished. Judges have become more independent, and the parliament has gained new powers. Steps have been taken to make the country's civil service more accountable to citizens. Media and civil society now have slightly more freedom to operate. Political reforms have been flanked by economic liberalisation. Barriers to trade and investment are being lifted, including by floating the som, the Uzbek currency, and by cutting red tape for businesses. On foreign policy, Uzbekistan has repaired ties with all its main international partners, from the US and EU to Russia and China. The most dramatic change has been the shift from Karimov-era confrontation with neighbours, such as Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, to regional cooperation. These are highly positive changes, but Uzbekistan still has a long way to go. The economy remains largely state-controlled and uncompetitive, and liberalising reforms need to continue. On the political front, the system remains fundamentally authoritarian, and transition to genuine multiparty democracy seems unlikely.

The EU dairy sector: Main features, challenges and prospects

Briefing - 17-12-2018

The EU dairy sector is the second biggest agricultural sector in the EU, representing more than 12 % of total agricultural output. While milk is produced in all Member States, farm and herd sizes, yields and types of farming vary widely across Europe, from free-range farming in Alpine areas to large specialised dairy farms in the north-west and centre of Europe. In 2016, 157 million tonnes of milk were delivered to dairies, where raw milk is processed into fresh products such as cheese or butter. Part of the common agricultural policy, the EU's dairy policy consists of a range of instruments designed to support farmers and address market imbalances. In particular, it includes common market organisation, public intervention and private storage provisions, direct payments and rural development measures. The policy has been constantly updated over time, one recent development being the suppression of milk quotas in 2015. The 2014 to 2016 crisis, during which raw milk prices dropped dramatically from around 40 to 25.7 cents per litre, triggered a reaction by the Commission based on public intervention-buying, private storage and a range of exceptional measures. Two aid packages were adopted, including incentives for farmers to reduce production. Recovery was in sight by 2017. In the coming years, growing EU and global demand is expected to support world dairy markets, without hindering price fluctuations and market imbalances. Resilience and sustainability are key words for the future of the sector. This can be achieved with innovation, as a way to reconcile the need for farmers to earn a decent living, consumer demand for affordable and quality dairy products, and environmental/animal health requirements.

Protection of workers from exposure to carcinogens or mutagens: Third proposal

Study - 17-12-2018

This detailed appraisal focuses on the process and evidence base used in the IA for setting the limit values for cadmium and beryllium, notably in light of some knowledge gaps and methodological challenges identified in the IA in relation to the number of workers exposed and the estimation of the burden of disease. The appraisal concludes that the IA has relied on a vast and updated amount of information, including scientific journals, guidelines, manuals, surveys, published by authoritative research centres, publishers and international organisations, making the overall analysis sufficiently convincing and robust. As regards the limitations of the analysis, which are transparently acknowledged, the analysis carried out by the external contractors and endorsed in the IA recognises that the full current and future disease burden deriving from historic exposures to cadmium and beryllium is not captured; consequently, the disease burdens may be underestimated. As regards the estimated number of workers exposed to cadmium, the value of 10 000 workers considered by the external contractors for their modelling (in addition to a higher value of 30 000), and taken over in the IA, is coherently justified in light of the recognised wide divergences among the different estimates. This value appears to be reasonable, based on the availability of data at national and EU level, and the way some of them were gathered. As regards the estimated number of workers exposed to beryllium, the figure of 54 071 workers exposed in the EU 28 (excluding the construction sector) identified by the external contractor and used in the IA appears to be plausible, based on the justifications provided. However, it is acknowledged that higher exposure levels would imply higher costs and benefits at all target OEL values.

Posted on 14-12-2018

United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA): Potential impact on EU companies

At a Glance - 14-12-2018

The USMCA is a new trade agreement due to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The United States, Mexico and Canada signed the agreement on 30 November 2018. While the text of the agreement may still change, if approved, certain USMCA provisions on rules of origin, geographical indications and voluntary export restraints could have implications for EU companies trading with or present in North America, in particular carmakers, food and drink exporters, and dairy producers. The USMCA could also set precedents for future US trade policy, in departing from key principles in international trade and origin determination.

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