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Posted on 28-04-2017

ECB policies [What Think Tanks are thinking]

Briefing - 28-04-2017

The European Central Bank is pushing ahead with its monetary stimulus programme, which was launched more than two years ago to counter deflationary pressures in the euro zone economy, and to strengthen then fragile economic growth. Some economists and politicians say the time is becoming ripe for the ECB to taper the scheme, which involves monthly purchases of government and corporate bonds worth some 60 billion euro, as the deflationary threat is disappearing and economic activity picks up. The ECB has assumed greater supervisory responsibilities under euro-area governance reforms aimed at preventing any repeat of the 2008-09 financial crisis. Its role could be reviewed during the expected next wave of reforms that would deepen cooperation among the currency area's members. This note offers a selection of recent studies, reports and commentaries by some of the major international think tanks and research institutes on ECB policy.

Revision of EU financial rules

Briefing - 28-04-2017

In September 2016, the Commission tabled a proposal for a new Financial Regulation which would replace the current one (together with its Rules of Application), as well as amend 14 other sectoral regulations and a decision each also containing financial rules. The Commission justifies its proposal by the need to simplify EU financial rules and make them more flexible. The proposal was submitted within the framework of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) mid-term revision package. However, the Court of Auditors, in its Opinion No 1/2017, identified a number of shortcomings in the Commission proposal, especially with regard to its own financial governance standards.

Reduced VAT rate for e-publications

Briefing - 28-04-2017

The fact that print and digital publications are currently subject to separate value added tax (VAT) rates essentially means that products that are considered to be comparable and substitutable are being treated differently to one another. This situation results from rules which, on the one hand, allow Member States to apply reduced rates to printed publications, but on the other exclude this possibility for digital publications. In addition, the recent evolution in the VAT framework means that VAT on digital services should be levied in the Member State where the consumer is based (thus protecting the single market from application of different rates within a Member State because of the different location of providers). The question of broadening the possibility to apply reduced rates to all publications, be they print or digital, is addressed in the proposal presented as part of the VAT digital single market package, and adopted by the European Commission on 1 December 2016.

Level-2 measures and reports under the Credit Rating Agencies Regulation

Briefing - 28-04-2017

This briefing has been drawn up to support ECON’s work on the scrutiny of delegated acts, in particular as regards the discussion of 3 May 2017 on the implementing measures under Regulation (EC) No 1060/2009 on Credit Rating Agencies (CRAs).

Two years until the 2019 European elections: Special Eurobarometer of the European Parliament

Study - 28-04-2017

This Special Eurobarometer survey, conducted for the European Parliament at the mid-point of the 2014-2019 parliamentary term, focuses on Europeans’ attitudes two years before the European elections of May/June 2019. The fieldwork for this Eurobarometer survey of the European Parliament was carried out between 18 and 27 March 2017. The survey was conducted by Kantar Public through face-to-face meetings with 27 901 EU citizens in the 28 Member States.

Nuclear Proliferation in North East Asia

Study - 23-03-2017

The nuclear dimension of the crisis in the Korean peninsula has been compounded since the end of the Cold war, particularly since the North Korean regime announced its withdrawal from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in January 2003. The nuclear and ballistic programmes of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) have dangerously improved since the beginning of the decade and seem to have accelerated since 2014 in spite of the continuous strengthening of the international sanctions regime against Pyongyang’s Weapons of Mass Destruction programmes. Accordingly, tensions have risen dramatically in the Korean peninsula. In the current context, the resumption of the six-party talks – deadlocked since the spring of 2007 - remains very hypothetical. It is clearly dependent on a change of attitude on Pyongyang’s part, something hardly predictable. Even if ‘strategic patience’ towards North Korea has been challenged for some time, it may be that there is no better alternative to this policy. Comprehensively conceived, it should be understood as a strong policy of containment of the North Korean nuclear crisis in order to make possible the return of Pyongyang to negotiations. As a subsidiary issue, it could be asked whether the EU could play a renewed role as regards to nuclear and ballistic proliferation in North East Asia.

Gender Equality Plans in the private and public sector in the European Union

Study - 15-03-2017

This study aims at mapping existing Gender Equality Plans (GEPs) in the public and private sectors in the Member States of the EU, as far as data is available; it aims at analysing how GEPs have impacted/are impacting the economic situation of women in the EU; analysing national legislation and collective agreements in connection with GEPs; analysing the impact of the crisis/austerity on GEPs and analyse more in-depth the substance and impact of GEPs in the private and public sectors in 2 Member States, Austria and Spain.

Posted on 27-04-2017

Western Balkans: Media freedom trends 2017

At a Glance - 27-04-2017

Media freedom, a core EU value and a cornerstone of democracy, is a priority reform area in the Western Balkans' EU accession agenda. Yet, despite a certain level of preparedness and a broadly developed legal framework, aspirant countries keep facing systemic shortcomings that require long-term sustained efforts. These efforts have stalled in recent years, resulting in a 'no progress' situation.

The Audiovisual Media Services Directive

Briefing - 27-04-2017

On 25 April 2017, the European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education voted to amend the proposal for an updated EU Audiovisual Media Services Directive, presented by the Commission on 25 May 2016. The overarching goal of the proposal is to bring about a balance between competitiveness and consumer protection. It therefore aims to introduce flexibility when restrictions only applicable to TV are no longer justified, promote European films, protect minors and tackle hate speech more efficiently. The proposal also reflects a new approach to online platforms. Although the directive’s increased protection for vulnerable viewers in VOD platforms has been greeted with satisfaction, the new rules on promotion of European works and commercial communications have received mixed views from stakeholders. Third edition. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure. Please note this document has been designed for on-line viewing.

EU port cities and port area regeneration

Briefing - 27-04-2017

Ports have always been an important asset to Europe, serving as gateways to the rest of the world and as connection points to rivers across European territory. For centuries, ports and their cities developed hand in hand, the port generating prosperity for the city. This has changed with the industrial revolution, globalisation and the rapid development of containerisation. Most ports moved out of their cities and their mutual relationship began to suffer. Today, this relationship experiences a new dynamism, driven on both sides by the aspiration to revive ports after the recent crisis, while at the same time making the most of their potential as a stimulus for city life and regeneration. In recent years, a variety of policy options have been identified and their efficiency tested. Port authority organisations were among the first to realise that for ports to flourish in the long term, their cities also need to prosper, and began taking steps towards improving their mutual relations. The progressive development of the EU’s urban policies can pave the way to further joint development of ports and cities and offer new solutions to urban challenges, essential for achieving the smart, sustainable and inclusive society envisaged in the Europe 2020 strategy.

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