ACADEMIC PREPARATION KIT
Board Introduction On behalf of the chairs team, we are happy to present you with the Academic Preparation Kit for Girona 2017. We have chosen the topics for Girona to reflect the theme, “Looking forward to what”, through 8 different angles that we believe are both relevant and controversial. At the heart of each topic are current difficult issues and conflicts to resolve, for which you will have to take a position. We encourage you to not just think about your own topics, but think about the fundamental values that society and politics should be based on - in Spain and in the EU. For each topic, the chairpersons have prepared a Topic Overview. The objective of these overviews is to give you an introduction to your topic and explain its key points, so that after reading it, you will be able to have an informed discussion. It aims to give you a solid base from which to do further research. Please read them carefully as they included all the information you are expected to know when arriving at the session. Please also keep in mind that this is an introduction to your topic, and you are expected to do your own independent research on the topic. Your chairpersons will contact you with specific preparation tasks, tailored to your topics. The topic overview is divided into the following sections to cover all aspects you need to know: • “Key terms” provides you with the basic terminology you need to understand the topic, to ensure a common understanding of the basic words you will be using to discuss this topic. • “Explanation and relevance of the topic” presents the topic and its background, and why we find it important to discuss it in Girona NSC. • “Stakeholders” presents the actors involved in the topic, as well as their interests and power in the issues. We invite you to think of all topics from the different perspectives of the actors involved. • “Key conflicts” is the core part of the topic overview, as it will present what will form the heart of your discussions and debates in Girona NSC: what are the aspects of the topic that are controversial? What are people debating about? What are the opposing views? What will you, as delegates, have to take a position on? • “Measures in place” will give you the basis of the solutions you will propose to the issue. It presents what already exists so that you know where to start from when designing your solutions. • “Further links” gives you the most important sources to consult to gain a deeper understanding of the topic.
How to use this guide • Read careful through the EU guide, as it will tell you all you need to know to better understand each topic and what the various actors in the EU can do about it (EU institutions, national governments, etc). • Read through your topic overview, consult the links for further research, and look into specific sources in the footnotes if you wish to know more about a particular aspect. • Read the other topic overviews to gain a solid basic understanding of them, and make informed points during General Assembly. Enjoy his guide, and we look forward to hearing your ideas during the session!
What is the European Union? The EU is an international organisation sui generis1. Its Member States have transferred significant powers and parts of their sovereignty to the EU and no other organisation has ever known such a degree of inter-state integration. For instance, EU law has supremacy over national law. The fact that the EU has independent bodies, such as the European Commission, the Court of Justice of the EU or the European Central Bank, which operate independently from the Member States and its decision-making process is not based on the principle of unanimity account for the supranational character of this organisation. Furthermore, EU law has supremacy over national law. From its creation in 1952 as the European Coal and Steel Community, the EU has grown from the 6 founding Members2 to 28 Members after the accession of Croatia in 2013. The legal basis of the EU are two Treaties: The Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU).3 Article 2 TEU articulates the core values of the EU: respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. Article 3 TEU postulates the main aims of the Union: promote peace, ensure free movement of persons, establish an internal market and an economic and monetary union. In its history, the EU has had significant achievements and successes. The internal market is the largest market in the world and the Member States enjoy many economic benefits from being a part of it. The free movement of the citizens as well as the high level of protection of human rights within the EU have strengthened the European identity and have maintained peace and prosperity in Europe for over 60 years4. However, the EU still faces many challenges. The financial and debt crisis, the refugee crisis and an increase in distrust of its citizens towards the EU are crucial issues that the EU is yet to address effectively.
What competences does the EU have? While the EU has more competences than any other international organisation, its activity is still limited by two core principles: Subsidiarity and Proportionality.5 The EU can issue legislation only in the areas where the Treaties provide a legal basis and confer the EU competence (attributed competence). There are different forms of EU competences: 1 2 3 4 5
Latin for: “of its own kind; unique”. The EU’s six founding members are France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. The Lisbon Treaty is not the legal basis of the EU! The Lisbon Treaty simply amended the two already existing treaties: the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty Establishing the European Community (which was renamed Treaty on the Functioning of the EU after the Lisbon Treaty came into force). These were also some of the main reasons why the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012. European Parliament, 2016, “The Principle of Subsidiarity” http://www.europarl.europa.eu/ftu/pdf/en/FTU_1.2.2.pdf
5 Exclusive Competence: In these areas the EU alone can legislate and adopt legally binding acts! The Member States can only do so if empowered by the EU, otherwise they have no legislative competence and cannot adopt any legally binding acts in these areas. The main areas that fall within exclusive competence of the EU are: 1. customs union 2. the establishing of the competition rules necessary for the functioning of the internal market 3. monetary policy for the Eurozone Member States 4. common commercial policy 5. the conservation of marine biological resources under the common fisheries policy. Shared Competence: In the areas that fall within shared competence, the Member States can adopt legally binding acts only if the EU has not exercised its competence (yet) or the EU has decided to cease exercising its competence. If the EU exercises its competence, the Member States cannot adopt legally binding acts in that area. The main areas that fall within shared competence are: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.
internal market economic, social and territorial cohesion agriculture and fisheries, excluding the conservation of marine biological resources environment consumer protection transport energy area of freedom, security and justice.
Supporting, Coordinating, or Supplementary Action: In the areas which fall within this category, the Union can take action to support, coordinate or supplement Member State action. However, the EU cannot harmonise law in these areas! The main areas that fall in this category of competence are: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.
protection and improvement of human health industry culture tourism education vocational training youth sport
Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP): Since this is a politically sensitive area, distinct rules apply to foreign and security policy. Decision-making continues to be more intergovernmental and less supranational than in other areas of EU competence.
What are the main EU Institutions and what is their role? Article 13 TEU lists seven institutions as the principle EU institutions. Here we will present the institutions which play a more frequent role in an EYP context. The European Commission: Also known as the “motor of integration”, the Commission is the institution which preserves the interests of the EU as an organisation. It is lead by the President of the Commission (currently Jean-Claude Juncker) and consists of 28 Commissioners. Each Member State suggests a Commissioner. However, they do not represent the interest of their country in their role as Commissioners and their independence must not be in doubt! The main powers of the Commission are the following: 1. Legislative power: The Commission has the right to initiate legislation. The vast majority of legislative acts within the EU are initiated (drafted) by the Commission, before they’re approved by the Parliament and the Council. 2. Administrative power: the Commission administers the policies and legislation, once they are implemented and maintains a general supervisory overview to ensure that the rules are properly applied within the Member States. 3. Executive power: The Commission plays a central role in managing the EU budget and in representing the Union externally.6 4. Judicial power: The Commission ensures the application of the Treaties and EU law. In order to comply with this task, it can investigate Treaty violations or it bring actions against Member States when they are in breach of EU law before the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU). The European Parliament: It consists of 754 Members, directly elected by European citizens every 5 years. Together with the Council of the EU it passes the legislation proposed by the Commission. Furthermore, the Parliament has extensive budgetary powers and can exercise supervisory powers as well. The Council of the European Union7: Also referred to as “the Council”, it consists of a minister from each Member State, who is responsible for the matter being discussed. Although the Council is a single body, it meets in different configurations.
The issue of international representation in the EU is a bit complicated. While the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy is in charge of carrying out the EU Foreign and Security Policy, the President of the European Council also ensures the external representation of the Union in matters related to the CFSP, whereas the Commission represents the EU on matters outside the CFSP. Beware the word Council: There are three main institutions in Europe which contain the word Council. It is very important to know the difference between them: The Council of Europe (CoE) is not an EU institution but an independent international organisation with 47 Member States. The European Council and the Council of the EU are two EU institutions. They have different powers and competences, the difference between the two is also very important!
7 At present there are ten Council configurations.8 Its main power is legislative. In most cases, a legislative act proposed by the Commission can only be implemented if it is approved by both the Council and the Parliament. The Council also has a say in budgetary matters, it can conclude agreements on behalf of the EU with third countries or international organisations and it has significant powers in defining and implementing the CFSP. European Council: It consists of Heads of State or Government of the Member States together with its President (at present Donald Tusk) and the president of the Commission. The main role of this institution is to provide guidelines for the development of the EU and define its general political directions and priorities.
How does the EU act? Instruments There are several legal and non-legal instruments which the EU can use to attain its objectives. The principal instruments are the following: Regulations: they are entirely binding and directly applicable in all Member States. Directives: Directives differ from Regulations in that they do not have to be addressed to all Member States and they leave some choice to the Member States regarding the form and method in which they will be implemented. They are binding in regards to the Member States but (generally) not directly applicable. The Member States have to first implement the Directives, generally through a national law. Decisions: are entirely binding and a decision which specifies those to whom it is addressed is binding only to them. They are generally used as binding acts in relation to specific addressees, which can be private individuals, specific groups or firms. Recommendations, Opinions and soft law9: these instruments are not binding and as such they cannot have direct effect. These forms of soft law are used to supplement legally binding acts, especially in the areas where the EU does not have the competence to harmonise the national laws.
The three most important configurations are the General Affairs Council, the Foreign Affairs Council, the Economic and Finan- cial Affairs Council. The other Council configurations deal with: Justice and Home Affairs; Transport, Telecommunications and Energy; Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs; Agriculture and Fisheries; Competitiveness; Environment; and Education, Youth, Culture and Sport. The term is used for legally not binding acts.
By Marcelina Mierzwa (PL)
Committee on Constitutional Affairs I Looking forward to an EU without the UK: Theresa May has laid a vision for a “hard Brexit”, where the UK would lose access to the single market, with the aim to reduce immigration and promote free trade. With the UK preparing to exit from the EU, which position should the European Council and European Commission take in the negotiations?
KEY TERMS Brexit refers to the currently undergoing process of Britain withdrawing from the European Union. The process has started after June 23, 2016 when the national referendum took place and whereby British citizens voted to exit the European Union. The referendum shook global markets, including currencies, causing the British pound to fall to its lowest level in decades. Hard Brexit refers to the variant of Brexit which will require UK to: • give up full access to the single market and full access of the customs union along with the EU • make new trade deals and applying laws within its own territory as this variant would prioritise giving Britain full control over its borders, Soft Brexit refers to the other variant of Brexit which would have allowed Britain to retain some form of access to the single market by maintaining the free movement of people. However as the HSBC report of 2015 1said, this would have kept much of the status quo intact — which is not what 52% of voters wanted when they chose Brexit last year. The right of a Member State to withdraw from the European Union introduced for the first time with the Lisbon Treaty, in Article 50 TEU. It does not set down any substantive conditions for a Member State to be able to exercise its right to withdraw, rather it includes only procedural requirements2. It provides for the negotiation of a withdrawal agreement between the EU and the withdrawing state, defining in particular the latter’s future relationship with the Union. If no agreement is concluded within two years, that state’s membership ends automatically, unless the European Council and the Member State concerned decide jointly to extend this period. 1 https://www.google.pl/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&ved=0ahUKEwid5d_CsrzSAhVDVSwKHW3OD4cQFggkMAI&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.hsbc.com%2F~%2Fmedia%2Fhsbc-com%2Finvestorrelationsassets%2Fhsbc-results%2F2015%2Fannual-results%2Fhsbc-bank-plc%2Fhsbc-bank-plc-annual-report-and-accounts-2015&usg=AFQjCNEeu60wRiCr7vKcZTzmxd56OgbIyg&bvm=bv.148747831,d.bGg&cad=rja - HSBC’s annual report 2 http://www.lisbon-treaty.org/wcm/the-lisbon-treaty/treaty-on-European-union-and-comments/title-6-final-provisions/137-article-50.html - Article 50
9 The Single Market is the economic arrangement between EU Member States and a few others who agree to four fundamental freedoms: the free movement of services, goods, capital and people.3
EXPLANATION AND RELEVANCE OF THE TOPIC
June 23, 2016 UK holds referendum on EU membership.
June 24, 2016 Results of referendum emerge: The majority of UK voters vote to leave the EU. UK Prime Minister David Cameron resigns.
UK referendum outcome4
Referendum outcome by location5
3 https://ec.europa.eu/growth/single-market_en - Single Market explenation 4 https://assets.bwbx.io/images/users/iqjWHBFdfxIU/iWUm.v2T2TIQ/v3/-1x-1.png - UK referendum outcome 5 https://static01.nyt.com/images/2016/06/24/world/europe/how-britain-voted-brexit-referendum-1466746689036/how-britain-voted-brexit-referendum-1466746689036-master495-v2.png - UK referendum outcome
July 13, 2016 Theresa May becomes new UK Prime Minister. October 2, 2016 Theresa May announces Great Repeal Bill at Conservative Party conference. She also confirms that she will trigger Article 50 notice in March 2017. January 17, 2017 UK Prime Minister Theresa May gives speech setting out her government’s key objectives for the Brexit negotiations. In it she made clear that the UK would not seek to retain membership of the single market and stated her desire for Britain to be a global trading nation respected around the world. January 31, 2017 UK Government introduces European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill to Parliament. February 2, 2017 UK Government publishes White Paper on the UK’s exit from and new partnership with the European Union. March 2017 UK Government to give notice to European Council of the EU of its intention to leave the EU. Two-year period for exit negotiations begins. March 2019 Long-stop date for exit negotiations (unless extension agreed). EU Treaties cease to apply to UK from date of entry into force of withdrawal agreement or two years after Article 50 notice. In the national elections in 2015, David Cameron promised to hold a referendum on whether the UK should leave the EU. This was welcomed with a wide satisfaction, especially from the elderly part of the society. The main cause for this was the claim that immigration in the UK is responsible for the unemployment rate among young Britons.6 What follows was the ‘Leave’ campaign, which tried to also emphasize the potential economic benefits of Brexit, such as the assertion that leaving the EU would free up £350 million every week, which could be spent on the NHS. As it was put in words easy to understand for voters of different ages and political persuasions and seemed logical to them, the pro-Brexit movement gained more and more supporters.7 Nevertheless, the outcome of the national referendum was deeply surprising for the international community. Leave won by 51.9% to 48.1%. The referendum turnout was 71.8%, with more than 30 million people voting. Moreover, there was a clear division between different parts of the country. England voted for Brexit, by 53.4% to 46.6%. Wales also voted for Brexit, with Leave getting 52.5% of the vote and Remain 47.5%. Scotland and Northern Ireland both backed staying in the EU. Scotland backed Remain by 62% to 38%, while 55.8% in Northern Ireland voted Remain and 44.2% Leave. 6 7
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/uk-migration-six-myths-about-immigration-debunked-as-latest-figures- show-fall-in-non-eu-arrivals-a6895341.html- myths about immigration in the UK http://www.vox.com/2016/6/22/11992106/brexit-arguments - main arguments for the ‘Leave’ campaign
11 At the moment, both EU and the UK are preparing to conduct negotiation on their future relationship. What is already obvious is that the rules of Single Market will not be violated. This is surely going to affect both those Europeans who are working in Britain and British citizens permanently staying in other parts of the EU. From an economic perspective, former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg stated once that 3 million workplaces depend on British membership of the EU.8 However, it has to be mentioned that fewer people come to live and work in the UK from within the EU than from the rest of the world. 624,000 people immigrated to the UK in the year to September 2014, up from 530,000 the year before. The majority of them – 292,000, up by 49,000 – came from outside the EU and would already have been subject to complex visa restrictions.9
STAKEHOLDERS The task of the European Council is to compromise the heads of state or government of the Member States, along with the President of the European Council. According to Article 50, the European Council has the exclusive competence to start the negotiations with the UK by giving a mandate to the European Commision (without the UK being present). Moreover, the European Council can unanimously decide to extend the period of negotiations with the UK if necessary. Additionally, the European Council provides the UK with the set of guidelines to be followed while preparing and conducting negotiations with the EU. The European Commission is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, and upholding the EU treaties. It consist of 28 members of the Commission (informally known as “commissioners”), one per Member State. The European Commission submits recommendations to the Council of the European Union and the European Council (excluding the UK), by enhanced qualified majority voting, authorises the opening of negotiations and appoints a negotiator. Michel Barnier will be the EU’s chief negotiator. Together with the Council of the European Union (the Council) and the European Commission, the European Parliament exercises the legislative function of the EU. The European Parliament consents to the withdrawal agreement by a simple majority. The British Prime Minister has the power to chose the variant of Brexit (hard or soft) and with the Parliament make a decision to trigger the Article 50. At the origin of this process are the citizens. Those who voted for Brexit may expect more focus on national issues and more control over immigration policies. On the other hand, UK citizens who live abroad may be forced to come back to their homeland. Moreover, private foreign companies based in the UK will face many legal difficulties if and when the country will leave the Single Market.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/eu/10923865/Treasury-figures-show-more-than-3-million-UK-jobs-are- reliant-on-the-EU.html - Treasury figures show more than 3 million UK jobs are reliant on the EU https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/may/14/brexit-what-would-happen-if-britain-left-eu-european-union-referendum- uk - What would happen if Britain left the EU?
KEY CONFLICTS It has to be remembered that there are around 1.2 million British born people living in another EU country, according to figures provided by the UN10. Around 800,000 will be workers and their dependants. After the end of the Brexit process they might face legal trouble with the long-term stay in foreign countries like Spain or Italy. It is even more painful for non-UK citizens who are currently staying in Britain- it is estimated that 3.3 million people born in another EU country live in the UK, of which 2.1 million are working.11 What is more, there is still a debate going on which variant of Brexit would be better. As Theresa May is clearly in favour of a “hard Brexit”, claiming that it “would benefit the UK by making it a global trading nation”. On the other hand, leaving the customs union would mean a visible increase of border controls which obviously makes trade much more complicated. For this reason it is expected that the EU prefer the soft variant of Brexit.12 Additionally, it is debatable what kind of stance the EU should take on the UK: should the UK be treated as a future friendly partner? Or rather as a warning sign of a harsh fate of a country which left the EU? It have to be kept in mind that other Members States, such as Hungary or France, have growing eurosceptic movements, which wish to call similar “exit” votes. Furthermore, the case of the single market is also controversial. As the UK does not want to maintain the free movement of people, trade will suffer the most. It is due to the fact that it seems impossible to have a free movement of goods but without free movement of people.
MEASURES IN PLACE The basic plan and the steps of withdrawing from the EU is Article 50. Article 50 provides for a two year negotiation, which can only be extended by unanimity. Article 50 sets out several phases of negotiations involving the different actors on the EU side. Before talks with the EU can begin, the European Commission, which acts as the EU’s negotiator, must seek the approval of the European Council (acting by consensus, minus the UK). The Commission would need to seek the approval of the Council and European Parliament at the final stage. It would need to consult both along the way. The EU is the UK’s largest trade partner. Almost half of the UK’s trade is with the EU and, even more importantly, EU membership reduces trade costs between the UK and the EU.13 Leaving the EU would lower trade between the UK and the EU due to the higher tariff and nontariff barriers to trade.14 In addition, the UK would benefit less from future market integration within the EU. The main economic benefit of leaving the EU would be a lower net contribution to the EU budget. On the other hand, EU countries lose income after Brexit. The overall GDP fall in the UK is £26 billion to £55 billion, about twice as big as the £12 billion to £28 billion income loss in the rest of the EU combined.15 10 11 12 13 14 15
http://www.undispatch.com/implications-un-brexit/ - implications on UK after Brexit https://www.migrationwatchuk.org/briefing-paper/354 - UK immigration dat http://www.economist.com/news/britain/21710837-european-union-preparing-give-britain-rougher-ride-many-brexiteers - Brit- ain’s European partners take a hard line on Brexit https://fullfact.org/europe/uk-leaving-eu-trade/ - UN’s raport on UK trade https://fullfact.org/europe/tariffs-and-barriers-trade-between-britain-and-eu/ - UN’s aport on UK-EU trade https://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/publications/files/key_findings_wpp_2015.pdf - UN’s report on global trade
13 In the White Paper introduced by Theresa May it is claimed that Britain wants to achieve as much separation from the European Union as possible regarding such aspects as trade or immigration. On the 1st of March 2017, the European Commission published a White Paper on the Future of Europe, setting out the main challenges and opportunities for Europe in the coming decade and with 27 Members.
KEY QUESTIONS •
What should be the EU’s guidelines when tackling the negotiations with the UK?
Deciding on the political direction of the relation with the UK, the economic aspect of Brexit, should the EU take a harsh or a conciliatory stance, considering other countries potentially wanting to leave in the future?
What form of approval should the EU expect from the UK’s side?
What should happen to the UK citizens living abroad? And to Europeans who live and work in the UK?
ADDITIONAL LINKS Official sources: European Commission, White Paper on the future of Europe: Avenues for unity for the EU at 27 https://ec.europa.eu/commission/white-paper-future-europe-avenues-unity-eu-27_en Lisbon treaty, Article 50 http://www.lisbon-treaty.org/wcm/the-lisbon-treaty/treaty-on-European-union-and-comments/ title-6-final-provisions/137-article-50.html European Commission, Definition of the single market https://ec.europa.eu/growth/single-market_en Media Coverage: Open Europe, The mechanics of leaving the EU – explaining Article 50 http://openeurope.org.uk/today/blog/the-mechanics-of-leaving-the-eu-explaining-article-50/ Independent, At last, White Paper sets out 12 key Brexit goals. Now for the 12 key unanswered questions http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-white-paper-explained-unanswered-questions-a7560361.html Academic Sources: Full Fact, What does leaving the EU mean for trade? https://fullfact.org/europe/uk-leaving-eu-trade/ National Institute of Economic and Social Research, Brexit http://www.niesr.ac.uk/tags/brexit
By Amber Davy (IE)
Committee on Constitutional Affairs II Looking forward to seceding regions: Brexit having re-ignited the movement for Scottish independence, and a pro-independent government in region of Catalonia, secessionist movements remain relevant issues in the EU. Without an existing legal framework on the matter, what should be the EU’s stance towards populations within its borders who seek independence?
Key Terms Secession is when one state loses control over part of its territory, and another state comes into existence to assume control over the territory.1 The Right to Self Determination denotes the legal right of people to freely choose their sovereignty and international political status. It is a core principle of international law and is enshrined in treaties such as the United Nations Charter.2 The Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA II) is the means by which the EU supports, through financial and technical help, reforms in countries that seek to join the EU.3 The Committee of Regions (CoR) is an EU advisory body composed of locally and regionally elected representatives coming from all 28 Member States. Through the CoR they are able to share their opinion on EU legislation that directly impacts regions and cities.4 The Subsidiarity Principle, defined in Article 5 of the Treaty on European Union, aims to ensure that decisions are taken as closely as possible to the citizen and that constant checks are made to verify that action at EU level is justified in light of the possibilities available at national, regional or local level.5
1 2 3 4 5
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 18/02/17, “Secession”, https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/secession/ Legal Information Institute, 18/02/17, “Self Determination”, https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/self_determination_internation al_law Europa Website, 18/02/17, “Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance”, https://ec.europa.eu/neighbourhood-enlargement/instru ments/overview_en Europa Website, 20/02/17, “CoR in a Nutshell”, http://cor.europa.eu/en/about/Pages/index.aspx EUR-Lex, 20/02/17, “Subsidiary”, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/summary/glossary/subsidiarity.html
Explanation and Relevance of the Topic Europe is incredibly diverse. This diversity is not confined to differences between Member States; differences within them seem more pronounced than ever. The demographic composition of states has historically long been a source of conflict. Over the centuries, alliances and conquests merged the territories of Europe’s many kingdoms. Inevitably minority groups were caught in the middle, leading to internal conflicts and competing territorial claims.6 These conflicts and claims were not remedied by time. Modern day Europe is witnessing a string of secessionist movements – groups that wish to claim, or ‘reclaim’, territory they feel is rightfully theirs. The most notable examples are the independence movements in Scotland and Catalonia, but the movements are by no means confined to these countries. Other examples include Flanders, Wallonia, Alsace-Lorraine, Northern Ireland, and the Basque Country. The map below highlights all of the current notable secessionist movements in Europe today. What Europe could look like if all current secessionist movements prevailed7
Many citizens in the highlighted areas above do not consider themselves merely part of a region but an independent nation that has no state of its own. Every secessionist movement is unique in its cause - Catalonia’s stems primarily from economic reasons8, whilst Flanders’ is motivated by mainly cultural and identity issues. Nationalistic feelings and dissatisfaction with the way a region is treated by its national government are also factors. 6 7 8
Connor Pfeiffer, 25/02/17, “European Separatism: Scotland, Catalonia, and Growing Divisions in the EU” http://theprincetontory. com/main/european-separatism-scotland-catalonia-and-growing-divisions-in-the-eu/ Bibliotecapleyades, 20/02/17, “Potential independent states in Europe”, http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/imagenes_sociopol/ globalization_eu05_01.jpg Business Insider, 24/02/17, “The economics of a Catalan secession from Spain”, http://uk.businessinsider.com/economics-of-cata lan-secession-from-spain-2016-2?r=US&IR=T
16 The EU has not ignored the distinct identities and needs of individual regions within Member States. The Maastricht Treaty both introduced the principle of subsidiarity and established the Committee of Regions.9 Whether these mechanisms are enough, or if they are being utilised to their full potential, are key points for consideration when evaluating the wave of secession movements across Europe.
Stakeholders Member States are ultimately responsible for determining whether or not a seceded region can ascend to membership of the European Union. In accordance with Article 49 of TEU, all Member States must agree to the ascension of a new state. The European Commission (EC) will have a responsibility to facilitate negotiations between a Member State and a breakaway region. The impact that independence would have on National Governments that lose a region cannot be ignored. Its future would be entwined with that of the breakaway region, politically, socially and economically. It must be determined to what extent the EU should listen to regional governments. It is also unclear what the procedure for holding an independence referendum should be, whether with the EU or regional governments. It is the citizens from separatist regions that are the driving force behind secessionist movements they elect separatist governments with the belief that seceding from their country will solve the issues their region is experiencing. The Committee of the Regions (CoR) is an EU advisory body composed of locally and regionally elected representatives coming from all 28 Member States. It has been argued that the Committee of Regions is largely symbolic - its powers are essentially consultative as the Commission and Council of the EU are not required to follow its recommendations. Furthermore, membership in the Committee is open to a wide range of local governments (including, for example, municipalities). This arguably lessens its importance for stateless nations who wish to pursue their own interests. Disputes between the breakaway region and the Member State it seceded from are likely to arise. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is responsible for settling legal disputes submitted by States.
Key Conflicts At the core of this topic lies the question of how the EU can respect the autonomy of Member States while upholding their citizens’ right to self-determination. Reacting to secessionist movements is an internal issue, and it is ‘not for the Commission to express its views on issues related to internal 9
Jessica Bracker, 01/03/17, “Secession or Solidarity?”, http://www.theeuropean-magazine.com/jessica-bracker/10212-two-views-of-european-integration
17 organization of the constitutional provisions of a particular Member State’10. However, the EU is still responsible for upholding the rights of all its citizens. This includes the right to self-determination11, which dictates that peoples are entitled to freely choose their sovereignty and international political status. There are disputes as to what exactly ‘self-determination’ is. It is unclear if the validity of a claim hinges on whether it is from a “people” sufficiently distinct from the rest of the state’s population. It is also unclear whether territory should change hands because the people who happen to be living on it at one particular point in time want to secede.12 There is no agreed ‘size’ that a movement should be, nor outlined motivations that are definitively justifiable. Secessionist movements are generally seen as a threat to national governments13, entailing conflict between them and their own Regional governments. Regions complain that their interests are ignored by the national government in question. National governments are often opposed to the fragmentation of their state for a combination of reasons, encompassing historical, cultural, economic and symbolic factors. Mariano Rajoy, the Prime Minister of Spain, has emphasised the historic and symbolic forces for his opposition to an independent Catalonia, pointing to the importance of maintaining the ‘unity of a nation with more than five centuries of history’.14 Economically, Catalonia is 16% of Spain’s population, 19% of its G.D.P., 24% of its exports, and a net provider of 20 billion euros in taxes every year.15 What adds another layer of complexity to the situation is the response of Member States to secession movements in other countries due to national interests. Membership of the EU is the centrepiece of the independence programmes of (most) pro-secessionists in both Scotland and Catalonia.16 There is an incentive to refuse EU membership to a breakaway region due to national interests, as opposed to whether the new state adheres to the Copenhagen Criteria and can contribute to the Union. Indeed, they are likely to have fear of igniting secessionist movements within their own countries. The most prominent issue concerning this topic is uncertainty. For example, if a referendum is held in Catalonia and is successful, is it binding? For how long? Would Spain be able to hold another referendum a few months later if it is dissatisfied with the result? Whether or not there would be a transition period for breakaway regions to leave the EU, or whether it should inherit membership, are questions that have never had to be addressed before.
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
Europa Website, 01/03/17, “Answer given by President Juncker on behalf of the Commission”, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getAllAnswers.do?reference=E-2015-011776&language=EN Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, 03/03/17, “Self-determination”, http://www.unpo.org/article/4957 1 Yale Law School Legal Scholarship Repository, 01/03/17, “Secession and the two types of terrirorial claims”, http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=5888&context=fss_papers James Forsyth, 03/03/17, “What Britain will lose if Scotland goes”, http://www.spectator.co.uk/2014/07/what-will-be-left/ BBC News, 1/03/17, “Spanish PM Rajoy challenges Catalan secession bid”, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34787795 Alfons López Tena , 3/03/17, “Here’s why Catalonia should secede from Spain, and why it won’t”, http://www.businessinsider.com/why-catalonia-should-secede-from-spain-and-why-it-wont-2016-2?IR=T Paul Anderson, 05/03/17, “Brexit and Spain: Would the Spanish government really block Scotland’s EU membership?”, http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2016/07/04/brexit-and-spain-would-the-spanish-government-really-block-scotlands-eu-membership/
Measures in Place The most important thing to consider when tackling this topic is to bear in mind the lack of precedent in TEU for succeeding states. A breakaway region of a Member State has never before attempted to gain membership of the EU. As such, there are no specific measures already in place for this. In 2009, the Lisbon Treaty strengthened the Committee of the Regions by requiring the Commission, Council, and Parliament to consult it on matters concerning local or regional government. It also allows the CoR to challenge EU laws that it believes violate the subsidiarity principle in the European Court of Justice (ECJ). Article 48 allows the TEU to be amended by existing members of the European Union, the European Parliament or the European Commission. It could potentially allow for a breakaway region to remain in the EU without leaving. Article 49 outlines the official process for ascension to the European Union. It provides that the accession of any new Member State must be ratified by all others. This, for example, could provide Spain with veto power on the accession of Catalonia.
Key Questions To what extent should the EU interfere with independence movements? When does a movement become relevant to the EU? How does the EU respect the autonomy of Member States while upholding their citizens right to self determination? Should the ascension process be altered for states that have seceded from a Member State? Should the EU offer special assistance to these regions, perhaps utilising IPA II? Should the EU address the root causes of independence movements? Can the EU play a role in assuring different regions within its borders that they have a voice? Is the EU in a position to integrate different kinds of power-sharing, devolved, de-centralised, or federalised lower levels of governance?
Additional Links Official Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance: https://ec.europa.eu/neighbourhood-enlargement/instruments/overview_en YouTube: Committee of the Regions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWPHIM0kZDE Subsidiarity: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/summary/glossary/subsidiarity.html
19 Academic European Separatism: Scotland, Catalonia, and Growing Divisions in the EU: http://theprincetontory. com/main/european-separatism-scotland-catalonia-and-growing-divisions-in-the-eu/ A Problem of European Identity? Separatist Movements in the EU and decrentalization of powers - http://www.democraticunion.eu/2014/03/problem-european-identity-separatist-movements-eu/ Catalonia and the Right of Self-Determination: http://arengel.edublogs.org/2013/10/12/catalonia-and-the-right-of-self-determination/ A future balance between the EU, its Member States and its regions: http://pes.cor.europa.eu/meetings/events/pages/regional-separatism.aspx Media Sturgeon: new vote on independence likely if Scots get no EU deal: https://www.theguardian.com/ uk-news/2017/feb/28/second-independence-referendum-likely-if-scots-get-no-brexit-deal Brussels insists that an independent Catalonia would remain outside the EU: http://www.catalannewsagency.com/politics/item/brussels-insists-that-an-independent-catalonia-would-remain-outside-the-eu BBC Article - Scottish independence: Academic says EU entry â€˜would be smoothâ€™ - Artcile 48 vs Article 49: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-28197298
By Denis Dodoiu (RO)
Committee on Foreign Affairs Countering post-truth propaganda: with the European Parliament recently declaring Kremlin propaganda efforts as a ‘threat to democracy’, with what measures should the EU approach the issue of Russian propaganda, aimed at challenging democratic values, whilst not infringing on the freedom of the press and freedom of expression?
Key Terms Propaganda is the deliberate spreading of ideas, information, or rumors for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person1; Post-truth is relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief2; Fake news is intentionally published hoaxes, propaganda, and disinformation purporting to be real news, seeking to mislead rather than entertain in search of financial, political, or other gain3; Freedom of expression is the right to express one’s ideas and opinions freely through speech, writing, and other forms of communication, but without deliberately causing harm to others’ character and/ or reputation by false or misleading statements; includes the freedom of the press 4.
Explanation and Relevance of the Topic Emanating from Russia ever since it annexed Crimea and has been waging of hybrid warfare in the Donbass, and with emphasis on the East, the EU has been increasingly hit by destabilising messages 5 amounting, in multiple forms and to different degrees, to coherent, hostile and deceptive ‘strategic communications’ campaigns. They are varied, complex and carried out both directly and through proxies, shaping people’s perceptions of the EU – be it inside Russia, in the Eastern Partnership (EaP) states or in the EU itself, as well as in its candidate countries. 1 2 3 4 5
“Definition of propaganda”,https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/propaganda “Definition of post-truth”, https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/post-truth “Definition of fake news” , https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fake_news_website “Definition of freedom of expression”, http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/freedom-of-expression.html 19/05/2016, “In-depth analysis of EU’s strategic communications”, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/IDAN/2016/578008/EXPO_IDA(2016)578008_EN.pdf
21 It seeks to distort the truth, disintegrate and divide the EU6 and its North American partners, paralyse the decision-making process, discredit the EU Institutions, provoke doubt, fear and uncertainty among citizens, challenge democratic values, gather domestic support and create the perception of failed states in the EU’s eastern neighbourhood. Russia’s efforts to weaken and destabilise the West while heightening the appearance of international tensions are being made as part of a new type of warfare, a hybrid one in which disinformation plays the leading role in orchestrated campaigns targeting millions of people in the EU and the euro-atlantic space. In light of the goals it intends to achieve, Russia’s messaging has proved quite efficient with its sophisticated machinery of delivering false facts, using channels such as think tanks, research institutions, multilingual TV-channels (RT), pseudo-news agencies (Sputnik), foundations, official state agencies of the Russian Federation and Social Media, with botnets, teams of paid Internet ‘Trolls’ and networks of websites aimed at amplifying right-wing sites.7 In Germany, the BfV spy agency8 stated that it has seen a wide variety of Russian propaganda tools and “enormous use of financial resources” directed against German parties and lawmakers, carried out by government bodies posing as “hacktivists” and attributed to Russian hacking group APT 28, also known as “Fancy Bear” or Strontrium, the same one blamed for the hack of the U.S. Democratic National Committee this year and a cyber attack on the German parliament in 20159. On a wider-scale, Russia has heavily interfered in cases such as the downing of MH-17 and the Minsk II Agreement in an effort to shift the alternative to suit and favour their interests.10 Although Russia does not appear to be winning the war for hearts and minds on the European front, nor is it dominating the European public debate on certain issues, it is not losing, either, as it poses a dangerous threat to its democratic values. The Union’s ‘soft power’ has undeniably suffered considerably in recent times as growing internal dissatisfaction and divisions, inadequate policy delivery, and mounting populism have all contributed to creating an environment (inside/outside the EU itself) significantly more receptive to Russia’s messages.
Stakeholders On the EU level, important stakeholders are The European Parliament, as well as the Council of the EU for legislative purposes. They have undertaken strategic communications efforts, vectored into defensive (react and respond) and offensive (probe and push) dimensions.
6 “MEPs sound alarm on anti-EU propaganda from Russia”, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/pdfs/news/expert/infopress/20161118IPR51718/20161118IPR51718_en.pdf 7 IDFI, 24/11/2016, “European Parliament Resolution Against Russian Propaganda”, https://idfi.ge/en/idfi_resolution_of_europeanparliament_against_russian_propaganda 8 Wikipedia, “German Federal Intelligence Service”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Intelligence_Service_(Germany) 9 Reuters,08/12/2016, “Germany sees rise in Russian propaganda, cyber attacks”, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-germany-russia-idUSKBN13X15D 10 StratCom Coe, “Russia’s manipulative techniques”, http://www.stratcomcoe.org/redefining-euro-atlantic-values-russias-manipulative-techniques
22 The NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence11 and the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence (StratCom CoE) 12 values strategic communications as a tool to achieve both its political and military objectives, publishing analysis while leveraging modern technologies and virtual tools to provide practical support to the alliance The European Endowment for Democracy (EED)13 and the Eastern Partnership Media Freedom Watch are involved in the protection of democracy, media freedom and pluralism Social and online networks such as Google and Facebook, are large platforms from which people access news, and thus play an important role in the spreading or combating of fake news and propaganda. The Russian state-controlled media14, such as Russia Today (RT), Sputnik and Russian national TV, broadcast in multiple languages. They have been steadily expanding their operations and positioned themselves as reliable alternatives to what they label “mainstream media”. The use of international commentators and experts by these Russian media does not necessarily reflect the depths of their expertise, rather whether their positioning is in line with pro-Kremlin narratives. Moreover, the true identity of some bloggers on Sputnik is not always clear, with the byline commentators being either extremely obscure individuals connected to the far right or the far left, or so-called false specialists or experts.
Key Conflicts Russia’s messages are contradictory, aimed at sowing mistrust in normal media, presented in a stereotypical, one sided way and tailored to very specific audiences with the goal of portraying the EU as close to crumbling under the combined pressure of the fiscal and migration crises, damaging its credibility. Despite the evidence, Russia still dismisses all accusations on this matter, with president Vladimir Putin expressing his dismay at the EU parliament resolution against Russian media, underlining the fact that the ruling demonstrates “political degradation” in regard to the “ idea of democracy” in the West. He points out that while “everyone tries to lecture” Russia on democracy, European lawmakers themselves resort to a policy of restrictions, “which is not the best way” to deal with any issues, but by holding “open discussions”, which he suggested was willing to do, adding that he hopes the Western move to “counter Russian propaganda” will not lead to serious, practical restrictions or else Moscow will take retaliatory measures.15 Another issue is determining how much responsibility comes with scale. Social networks and news aggregators came under fire during the U.S. presidential election when it became clear they had 11 12 13 14 15
NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, https://ccdcoe.org/about-us.html StratCom CoE, http://www.stratcomcoe.org/about-us The European Endowment for Democracy (EED), https://www.democracyendowment.eu/news/bringing-plurality-1/ EU vs Disinformation, 21/02/2017, “Useful experts in Russian media”, https://euvsdisinfo.eu/useful-experts-in-russian-media/ The Independent,05/12/2017, “Vladimir Putin expresses dismay at the resolution”, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/eu-approves-resolution-to-fight-back-against-russian-propaganda-warfare-a7436036.html
23 inadvertently fanned false news reports. Many claim that by driving such an enormous share of the attention of most news consumers across the world, these platforms, willingly or not, become crucial gatekeepers and have the moral obligation to figure out an editorial mechanism, especially since, by being private organisations, they have the ability to do so while not infringing upon basic freedoms. Thus, one issue that arises is if online platforms are morally obliged to partake in the fight against propaganda or if they should reserve the right to interpret freedom of expression in their own ways. Progress has been made since, as a result of the public uproar, Internet giants such as Google and Facebook have been introducing various measures in a joint fight against fake news both within the US and in European countries such as France and Germany. Another essential role is played by traditional, established news outlets, who are expected, now more than ever, to tackle post-truth propaganda and regain their status of emblems of truthful media. Perhaps the most essential conflict here is how, or if, we can properly and precisely define the concept of “fake news” and make a critical assessment of the difference between disinformation and criticism, particularly when in the context of political expression, as a way of preventing the removal of non-problematic content. Another vital focus point is the degree to which banning propaganda represents an infringement upon the freedom of speech and of the press, bearing in mind the EU’s commitment to guiding its actions in compliance with these principles. The EU states that strategies to ensure quality journalism, media pluralism and fact-checking can only be effective as long as information providers enjoy trust and credibility 16. While the European Convention on Human Rights guarantees freedom of expression, it also stipulates that it may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties necessary in a democratic society. However, there are also many who warn that banning “fake news”, as opposed to protecting free speech unless it causes direct harm, is a dangerous slope towards censorship, which would go against democratic values.
Measures in Place Initially, the EU’s collective response was slow but it has picked up speed recently. The Union does not engage in counter-propaganda, instead a preference for (re)acting at the national level has long prevailed. Lately, the realisation that coordinated action at the EU level can actually make a considerable difference has gained ground, especially when the challenges are directed at the Union as a whole, know no borders, and cannot be tackled separately. As a result, a few limited initiatives have been launched and implemented, while importance was placed on more common action (at the NATO level), as driven by the realisation of the scale of the challenge and the need to join forces and resources. On November 23, the European Parliament approved a resolution17 titled “EU strategic communication to counteract anti-EU propaganda by third parties” which examines the propaganda against the European Union extensively and suggests measures to be taken by European Institutions. 16 17
European Parliament, 14/10/2016, “Report on the resolution”, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+REPORT+A8-2016-0290+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN&language=ga European Parliament, 14/10/2016, “Report on the resolution”, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+REPORT+A8-2016-0290+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN&language=ga
24 The EU Strategic Communication Task Force18 has two weekly newsletters The Disinformation Digest and The Disinformation Review. The Action Plan on Strategic Communication19, which welcomes the joint communication on the ‘Joint Framework on countering hybrid threats’, along with the establishment of the East StratCom20 Team within the European External Action Service (EEAS), has the aim of communicating EU policies and countering anti-EU propaganda and disinformation. The Centre for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) has launched the ‘Information Warfare Initiative’21. The website Stopfake.org22 is dedicated to fact-checking and refuting disinformation in international media coverage on Ukraine. Google and Facebook23 are restricting false news by banning sites that spread misinformation from AdSense and by consulting third-party news organizations about accuracy of articles, with measures being taken by them both in France and Germany.
Key Questions 1. To what extent, if at all, should the EU restrict the spread of propaganda? Would switching from non-legislative to legislative measures for that purpose infringe upon human rights such as the freedom of speech and of the press? 2. How much of an influence does Russia and its anti-EU messages have on EaP and especially on candidate states and how could it affect the partnerships or processes of adherence? 3. What should the EU do in order to lessen the impact fake news have on citizens and prevent it in the future with regards to preserving people’s faith in and perception of the Union? 4. Given the already tense relations between Member States and Russia, could the EU’s accusations, which have been entirely dismissed by Russia, with which the Union still cooperates on a number of issues, lead to further strain between the two? How can this be prevented? 5. What level of responsibility should social media and online networks have in stopping propaganda, given the fact that through their private medium nature, a ban on false information would not infringe upon any human rights? How can the notion of fake news be precisely defined? 18 19 20 21 2 23
19/05/2016, “In-depth analysis of EU’s strategic communications”, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/IDAN/2016/578008/EXPO_IDA(2016)578008_EN.pdf 22/06/2015, “Action Plan”, http://archive.eap-csf.eu/assets/files/Action%20PLan.pdf European Union External Action, 26/11/2015, “Questions about East StartCom”, http://collections.internetmemory.org/haeu/content/20160313172652/http://eeas.europa.eu/top_stories/2015/261115_stratcom-east_qanda_en.htm Information Warfare Initiative, http://infowar.cepa.org/About 2Stopfake.org, “Information about the site”, http://www.stopfake.org/en/about-us/ Reuters, 06/02/2017, “Facebook and Google join drive against fake news in France”, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-election-facebook-idUSKBN15L0QU
25 6. What role do traditional, established news outlets play in tackling the issue of post-truth propaganda and can they be regarded as emblems of truthful media, now more than ever?
Additional Links a. Official sources Resolution: EU strategic communication to counteract anti-EU propaganda by third parties h t t p : / / w w w . e u r o p a r l . e u r o p a . e u / s i d e s / g e t D o c . d o ? p u b R e f = - / / E P/ / T E X T + R E PORT+A8-2016-0290+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN&language=ga EU strategic communications with a view to counteracting propaganda http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/IDAN/2016/578008/EXPO_IDA(2016)578008_EN.pdf StratCom Coe, Russiaâ€™s manipulative techniques http://www.stratcomcoe.org/redefining-euro-atlantic-values-russias-manipulative-techniques b. Media sources Facebook and Google struggling to fight fake news https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/why-facebook-and-google-are-struggling-topurge-fake-news/2016/11/15/85022897-f 765-422e-9f53-c720d1f20071_story.html?tid=a_inl&utm_term=.95d21573d0ac Germany sees rise in Russian propaganda http://www.reuters.com/article/us-germany-russia-idUSKBN13X15D How the Kremlinâ€™s disinformation machine is targeting europe https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-02-16/how-the-kremlin-s-disinformation-machine-is-targeting-europe Russian propaganda attack on Finland http://www.reuters.com/article/us-finland-russia-informationattacks-idUSKCN12J197 Fake news and free speech http://upnorth.eu/fake-news-free-speech-lies/ c. Academic sources The Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) about the resolution https://idfi.ge/en/idfi_resolution_of_europeanparliament_against_russian_propaganda Statements from Google and Facebook regarding fake news https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/15/technology/google-will-ban-websites-that-host-fake-newsfrom-using-its-ad-service.html
By Heidi Park (SE)
Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs I Looking forward to a fairer Europe: given the increasing gap in absolute inequality both within EU Member States and across the EU as a whole, which policy tools should the EU and its Member States use to create a more equal society?
Key terms Wealth inequality: the unequal distribution of assets within a population. Social cohesion: the willingness of members of society to cooperate together in order to survive and work towards the well-being of one another. Socioeconomics: how social processes are affected and shaped by economic activity. Proportional tax: a tax rate applied to all citizens regardless of their level of income. This is also known as a flat tax rate. Progressive tax: a tax system which increases or lowers the tax rate, the higher or lower the income. Regressive tax: a system that levies the same amount on each of the citizens. However, it has a greater impact on lower-income earners than on the wealthy because it does not take into consideration the ability to pay.
Explanation and Relevance of Topic Since the 1970s, income and wealth inequality has been on the rise, especially within the European Union Member States. It is estimated that around 123 million people1, a quarter of the EUâ€™s population, are at risk of living in poverty. This stands in stark contrast to the 342 billionaires residing in Europe. There can be several reasons for this wealth inequality. Firstly, different people have different opportunities. They can be born into a wealthy family and have parents who have access to high-quality education, which allows them to be employed at high-income jobs. That, in turn, allows their children to have the same education and the opportunity to be employed at similar jobs. 1
Oxfam, 09.09.2015, â€œIncreasing Inequality Plunging Millions More Europeans Into Povertyâ€?, https://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/pressreleases/2015-09-09/increasing-inequality-plunging-millions-more-europeans-poverty
27 Other reasons concern economic issues, such as different economic systems between Member States and tax policies. Some Member States, for example Romania, tax their citizens equally and regardless of their level of income, which is called proportional taxing. In others, citizens are taxed depending on their income, which is called a progressive taxing. This causes a rift between the higher and lower social classes, adding to the increasing wealth inequality: people who belong to the working class may not be able to afford to pay as much taxes as those who have more wealth. As the inequality gap widens, it has several implications for the growth and stability of a nation. It can cause the decision making power to concentrate into the hands of the most powerful, human resources being suboptimally used, and cause economic instability2. Studies have found out that in unequal countries, indicators for life expectancy and health3 decrease. On the other hand, social problems, such as homicides and imprisonment increase, and these indicators are much worse compared to more equal countries. Furthermore, inequality can have a negative impact on social cohesion, democracy and women’s rights. Thus, inequality does not only affect the lower social class, but also the higher class.
Stakeholders Each Member State is responsible for its tax system and deciding the conditions of who is eligible to receive benefits. They are also responsible for creating policies that could potentially help the lower and middle social classes. They have the potential to narrow the inequality gap within their own country, although this may lead to higher taxes imposed on the wealthier citizens. Citizens are affected by inequality, regardless of their economic status. As mentioned previously, wealth inequality can cause social exclusion, and negatively affect democracy and human rights. Especially those who have low-income or come from low-income families are affected greatly, as they may suffer from a regressive tax system or poor benefits in the country they reside in. This would mean that there is no opportunity for them to change their socio-economic status. The European Commission is responsible for promoting the general interest of the EU, as well as proposing legislation on employment and social policies for the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers to co-decide on. Together with the Council of Ministers, the European Parliament co-decides on whether to adopt the proposed legislation by the European Commission. Together, these three institutions within the EU are involved in employment and social policy making. The Directorate-General (DG) is a branch within the administration of the EU responsible for a specific area of expertise. In this case, the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs is mainly responsible for encouraging the development of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) inside and outside the EU. This is made possible through advancing economic 2 3
International Monetary Fund, 01.06.2015, “Causes and Consequences of Income Inequality: A Global Perspective”, https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/sdn/2015/sdn1513.pdf Examples of indicators of health include infant mortality, obesity, and mental illness.
28 policy coordination and conducting economic surveillance to gather data before providing policy assessment and advice. The Economic and Financial Affairs Council configuration (Ecofin) within the Council of the EU is responsible for three main areas within EU policy: economic policies, taxation issues, and the regulation of financial services.4 The members of the Council are ministers of economy and finance from the Member States. They coordinate economic policies, aim to harmonise Member States’ economic performance, and monitor their budgetary policies.
Key Conflicts Some may argue that inequality is a necessary evil, as inequality and different opportunities can create incentives for people to compete, excel, and invest in order to move forward in life. Differentiation in earnings can create economic growth, or it can provide incentives for innovation and entrepreneurship. While this may be true to some extent, there remains a question of when and where to draw the line of how much inequality is necessary, and how to control the amount of inequality in a society. In recent years, there have been shifts in labour demand mainly due to new technological advances, contributing to wealth inequality to a great extent. Automation or upgrading the skill level required to attain or keep certain jobs can disproportionately raise the demand for skilled labour over lowor unskilled labour, therefore resulting in increased labour income inequality. Consequently, those who did not have the opportunity to have a higher level of education would be laid off, which in turn increases the inequal gap between the wealthy and the poor. Compared to the 1980s, socio-economic inequalities have increased in the EU, occurring during a period of economic growth. Thus, there are different factors that must be taken into consideration to combat this form of inequality: combating low pay and supporting labour market institutions; including social objectives through widening measures of economic performance, by the means of adopting a modified United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); and making sure Member States strengthen their political commitment to reduce socio-economic inequality.5 To support the arguments, it has been found that Nordic countries and certain western European countries have less socio-economic inequalities thanks to their corporatist model of welfare.6 An important factor to be considered is that there are several countries where citizens do not have access to benefits, such as unemployment, health care, or family benefits. In some cases, they may have access to them, but there are strict guidelines7 in place, which means such benefits are not available for everyone.
4 5 6 7
European Council, 26.01.2017, “Economic and Financial Affairs Council Configuration (Ecofin)”, http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/council-eu/configurations/ecofin/ European Commission, 2010, “Why Socio-Economic Inequalities Increase?”, https://ec.europa.eu/research/social-sciences/pdf/policy_reviews/policy-review-inequalities_en.pdf Advocates for a highly developed welfare states provide generous unemployment benefits, among others, to the general public, and the labour markets are mobile due to the relative ease with which companies can employ and lay off their employees. European Commission, retrieved on 21.02.2017, “Your Rights by Country”, http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=858
29 Another way to redistribute income is universal basic income8 that has recently been brought up in the light of increasing inequality and poverty. Adopting the measure would mean there are no conditions regarding who can receive the basic income and eventually, would result in replacing the welfare system which is in place at the moment. The Netherlands has already implemented their first experimental basic income schemes, and Finland has announced a two year test-phase starting in 2017.9 Those who are in favor of universal basic income argue that it would positively affect justice and poverty reduction, as it would help those in need and replace the welfare system that is claimed to be too complex in some of the Member States. Arguments against the measure are the high cost of implementing it and the need to impose higher taxes, which would affect the lower social class negatively. The aforementioned policy tools are related to taxation systems that are an integral part of the issue at hand. To add complexity to it, a body of evidence shows that political ideology has to do with tax structures: a study from the University of Glasgow has concluded that “there exists evidence for effects of both political ideology and pre-electoral opportunism on the income tax rates for the OECD economies.”10 The main finding of the study is that left-wing parties usually prefer imposing taxes on capital as opposed to right-wing parties, who prefer taxing labour income more relative to capital income. Additionally, the study found out income tax rates tend to be reduced before elections. To sum up, tackling wealth inequality requires agreeing on the type of a taxation system that will be implemented and deciding to which extent labour and capital should be taxed. Finally, as for other key conflicts revolving around wealth inequality, there are countries where citizens do not have access to education or education of high-quality. The schools may be of poor quality, understaffed and/or have staff who do not have the proper qualifications. These factors, among others, can lead to a lack of social cohesion and opportunities within different Member States, causing more people fall into the poverty gap.
Measures in Place The issue of employment and social policy falls under the shared competence. This means that both the EU and Member States have the power to legislate, but only if the EU has not acted on a specific issue, or has appealed its acts allowing Member States to act. While the responsibility for employment and social policy lies on Member States, the EU can fund certain projects and complement their efforts. For example, the EU can provide and coordinate funding to help Member States invest in areas such as healthcare, employment, and training11. Each Member State is responsible for the different benefits they can provide for their citizens, which is why they differ widely across the EU. For example, unemployment benefits can be applied for in Spain, 8 9 10 11
European Parliament, 01.09.2016, “Basic Income: Arguments, Evidence, Prospects”, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2016/586679/EPRS_BRI(2016)586679_EN.pdf The Guardian, 04.01.2017, “Universal Basic Income Is Not a Magic Solution, But It Could Help Millions”, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/04/universal-basic-income-welfare-employment-scotland-canada-netherlands K. Angelopoulos et al., 26.02.2009, “Do Political Incentives Matter for Tax Policies? Ideology, Opportunism and the Tax Structure”, http://www.gla.ac.uk/media/media_110684_en.pdf, p.2 European Union, 22.02.2017, “Employment and Social Affairs”, https://europa.eu/european-union/topics/employment-social-affairs_en
30 but there are certain requirements that need to be met. One must be registered to one of the Spanish social security systems, and must prove that they have paid contributions for at least 360 days in the past 6 years before becoming unemployed. The guidelines are different from the Swedish ones, for example. In Sweden, the citizens must be registered to the Swedish Public Employment Service on the first day of unemployment, and must apply for payment from their unemployment insurance fund. This determines the amount of funding which will be received. Having worked for a minimum of 6 months and a minimum of 80 hours per month during the last 12 months before becoming unemployed must hold true in order to receive the benefits.12 Lastly, the Cohesion Policy 13 of the EU is behind the numerous projects taking place all over Europe. Its main goal is to increase economic and social cohesion14 during the 2014-2020 budgetary period. Approximately EUR 350 billion15 have been invested in for example different projects of Member States in order to promote growth, creation of jobs, and quality of life.
Key Questions What type of policy tools could be used to fight wealth inequality? What are the different options to fight wealth inequality, and what is standing in the way of those options? What could be done to overcome those obstacles? Which tools are the most effective way of removing wealth inequality? What are the benefits and disadvantages of each of the three taxation systems and how could they best be implemented in order to combat wealth inequality?
Additional Links a. Official Sources Causes and Consequences of Income Inequality: A https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/sdn/2015/sdn1513.pdf
Economic Inequality, European Parliament http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2016/587294/IPOL_BRI(2016)587294_ EN.pdf 12 European Commission, retrieved on 21.02.2017, “Your Rights by Country”, http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=858 13 European Commission, 15.08.2014, “Cohesion Policy: Frequently Asked Questions”, http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/en/faq/#3 14 Economic and social cohesion means reducing disparities between the various regions and the backwardness of the least-favoured regions. 15 European Commission, 24.06.2014, “Speech on Cohesion Policy: Investment For Growth and Jobs”, http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_SPEECH-14-495_en.htm
Poverty Risk, Inequality, and Social Exclusion, European Parliament http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/ATAG/2016/573938/EPRS_ATA(2016)573938_ EN.pdf b. Media Sources Spain: Inequality Leaps as Rich Get Richer and Poor Get Poorer, The Local, 19.01.2016 http://www.thelocal.es/20160119/spains-rich-get-richer-as-poor-get-poorer
Universal Basic Income Is Not a Magic Solution, But It Could Help Millions, The Guardian, 04.01.2017 https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/04/universal-basic-income-wel fare-employment-scotland-canada-netherlands c. Academic sources Income Inequality and Poverty, OECD http://www.oecd.org/social/inequality-and-poverty.htm Just 8 men own same wealth as half the world, Oxfam International https://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/pressreleases/2017-01-16/just-8-men-own-samewealth-half-world Increasing Inequality Plunging Millions More Europeans Into Poverty, Oxfam International https://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/pressreleases/2015-09-09/increasing-inequality-plunging-millions-more-europeans-poverty
By VĂctor Escuder (ES)
Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs II Looking forward to a genuine Economic Union: despite significant progress towards a common Banking Union, Fiscal Union and Political Union, European economic integration still needs improvement. While negotiations are often about the arrangements and not about the desired final outcome, what goals should the EU and its Member States put forward and which next steps should be taken regarding Economic Integration?
Key terms Economic integration is the process by which a group of countries/regions agree to cooperate in the economic sphere. This economic arrangement is characterised by the reduction or elimination of trade barriers and the harmonisation of monetary and fiscal policies, in order to increase trade between the actors taking part in this agreement. Trade barriers are measures that governments or public authorities introduce that prevent or restrict trade and investment. As a result of these measures, domestic companies receive a competitive advantage relative to their foreign counterparts. The typical trade barriers are tariffs (taxes), quotas (limit of quantity), regulatory barriers (concrete way of packaging, certain safety measures, etc.) or export subsidies (tax exemptions, cheap loans, etc.). A free trade area is a group of countries whose commerce of goods and services can be conducted across their common borders without tariffs or obstacles but, in contrast to common markets, capital or labor may not move freely. Moreover, each country has its own different external tariffs for those countries outside the free trade area. A common market is a geographical area which promotes duty free trade and free movement of labour and capital. It also includes a common external tariff on imports from non-member countries. The European Union is the best known example, as it also includes a supranational body with competence to make binding decisions about certain trade issues.
Explanation and relevance of the topic In an intergovernmental conference held in Venice in 1957, West Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg signed the Treaty of Rome1, with the aim of facing the setbacks that the European project had encountered during those last years. This treaty led to the creation of a European Economic Community, whose goal was to establish a common market in which its members had to respect the freedom of movement of goods, workers, capital and services; a set of anti-trust policies; the removal of trade barriers; a common agricultural policy and common external barriers. The next big step towards European economic integration was made in the Maastricht Treaty2, which formally established the European Union in 1993, and included the creation of a single currency. The purpose of the Euro was to stabilise inflation and avoid large exchange rate fluctuations between European economies. While creation of a single currency was rooted in Europe’s integration and facilitating economic transactions within the union, it also helped place the unified Germany that emerged at the end of the Cold War solidly within a common European institutional framework. It also gave market forces a significant role in disciplining Member States, by establishing the “no bailout” clause3. However, it was not only an economic project that sought to improve standards of living by strengthening economic stability. In fact, the creation of the EU was supposed to be a political project which seeked for the cultural, economic and political integration of Europe, bringing all the people and countries closer together and ensuring peaceful coexistence. Nevertheless, these goals now seem to be more distant than they were before the creation of the Eurozone. Converging interest rates masked an absence of underlying structural convergence. Cross-border financial flows—stimulated by the absence of cross-border transaction costs and financial regulation—facilitated increasing disparities in competitiveness and creating a feeling of inequality amongst Member States, and as a consequence threatening the viability of the currency union. Overall, despite specific economic arrangements and legislative measures, it is clear that the EU institutions and its Member States do not have a common and clear strategy to attain the objective of pursuing an Economic Union.
Stakeholders The European Commission often seeks to face the EU crises by pushing Member States to cooperate towards a common “European” solution that involves giving more power and competences to the EU institutions. In fact, the European Commission, whose main functions are proposing legislation, drawing up the EU budget, implementing decisions, upholding the EU treaties and managing the day-to-day business of the EU (article 17 of the TEU), is the clear representation of a supranationalist framework
1 2 3
Historiasiglo20, retrieved on 04/03/2017, “The Treaties of Rome”, http://www.historiasiglo20.org/europe/traroma.htm Historiasiglo20, retrieved on 04/03/2017, “The Treaty of Maastricht”, http://www.historiasiglo20.org/europe/maastricht.htm Financial Times, retrieved on 04/03/2017, “Definition of no bail-out clause”, http://lexicon.ft.com/Term?term=no-bail_out-clause
34 within Member States. If Member States decide to find common solutions towards a monetary and economic union, the Commission is key because it will be the body proposing legislation to harmonise and homogenise national policies. The European Council plays a fundamental role in shaping the EU policy by establishing the parameters within which the other institutions operate. It comprises the heads of state or government of the Member States, who meet at least 4 times a year to agree by consensus upon common guidelines that the EU should follow (article 15 of the TEU). This institution represents the inter-governmentalist values that still prevail amongst Member States. In recent weeks its president, Donald Tusk, repeatedly warned that more centralisation would turn citizens against the EU. If Member States wish to debate upon the direction that the EU should take regarding economic integration, those guide-lines should be set in the European Council meetings with the participation of all countries. The European Central Bank (ECB) is the EU institution responsible for the monetary policy of the EU. Amongst its varied competences, it conducts foreign exchange, holds currency reserves and authorizes the issuance of bank notes. The ECB does not participate in the ordinary legislative procedure of the EU. The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is a consultative body that gives representatives of Europe’s socio-occupational interest groups and others a formal platform to express their points of views on EU issues. Its opinions are forwarded to the Council of Ministers, the European Commission and the European Parliament, giving the EESC a key role to play in the Union’s decision-making process. The path that the EU should follow is shaped based on the political will of each of its Member States. Therefore the future of Europe, whether it implies moving forward to achieve a European economic integration or towards a complete recovery of the Member States’ sovereignty, depends on the interest of these key stakeholders.
Key conflicts The global financial crisis triggered the euro area’s sovereign debt crisis, and exposed severe imbalances in the Eurozone and weaknesses in the European architecture. In order to avoid a recurrence of the crisis, the EU increased its powers insofar as it led to measures that strengthened centralised control over national economic policy4. In fact, the Treaty of Maastricht included a set of macroeconomic requirements to be fulfilled by any country that wanted to join the European Union (price stability, soundness of the national finance and a stable currency). For this reason, all the Eurozone countries are subject to close scrutiny over their national budgets. These constraints placed on Member States’ economies have received a lot of criticism as many people claim that certain competences which are within the sphere of national sovereignty are now subject to significantly greater control5. 4 5
Euractiv, 27/06/2013, “What is wrong with the European Commission?” http://www.euractiv.com/section/public-affairs/opinion/what-is-wrong-with-the-european-commission Economics Help, 28/11/2012, “Criticism of European Union EU”, http://www.economicshelp.org/blog/glossary/criticism-eu/
35 Furthermore, the constant clash between a federalist and intergovernmentalist approach to this issue amongst the relevant stakeholder drags out the possibility of setting common guidelines and structural reforms in the European legal framework. On the one hand, the defenders of a federalist or supranationalist model seek for a European Union in which the common interest of all Member States as a European community prevails over the different national concerns. In this framework, decisions are based on consensus. On the other hand, those who want the European project to be based on an intergovernmentalist framework are willing to ensure the state interests remain paramount. In this vision, decisions are based on unanimity.
Measures in place The President of the European Commission, with the help of the presidents of the Euro Summit, the Eurogroup, the European Central Bank and the European Parliament, prepared a report with a set of recommendations for the process towards a deeper Economic and Monetary Union. As a general idea, the reforms must happen in four fronts, one being towards a genuine Economic Union, as each economy should have the structural features to prosper within the Monetary Union. The second one would be towards a Financial Union, integrating the single currency and increasing risk-sharing with the private sector. The third should be towards a Fiscal Union, ensuring fiscal sustainability and stabilisation. Last but not least, the fourth being towards a Political Union, providing the foundation for all the above through democratic accountability and institutional strengthening. The report states that for Europe to gradually evolve towards a genuine Economic and Monetary Union, it will need to shift from a system of rules and guidelines for national economic policy-making to a system of further sovereignty sharing within common institutions. The process explained in the report, which is divided in 2 stages, includes different measures that the Presidents of the EU institutions will try to implement in a broad, transparent and inclusive manner. As a response to the global financial crisis, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM)6 was set up. The ESM’s mission is to provide financial assistance to euro area countries experiencing severe financing problems by granting loans as part of a macroeconomic adjustment programme. At the height of the crisis, the European Central bank provided large liquidity support for banks and established a framework for so-called Outright Monetary Transactions, which enabled the purchase of bonds issued by Eurozone Member States. Despite these specific legal arrangements, other regulations and directives, the revision of the European budget and inter-governmental agreements, there is a need to debate upon the real purpose of these measures. What is the long-term goal that the EU and its Member States are trying to achieve by setting these solutions? For this reason, at some point EU leaders may need to accept not only laws that tackle particular aspects of the Eurozone’s difficulties, but also structural reforms of the pillars upon which the European Economic project was built, in order to decide what is the common motivation that will justify the upcoming steps of this project and its final aim. 6
BBC, 07/07/2015, “What is the European Stability Mechanism?”, http://www.bbc.com/news/business-19870747
Key questions Is there a need for an EU structural reform so as to harmonise national policies under a common European framework, or should we strive back towards a rather intergovernmentalist model? Which are the different national interests that may trump any concern for values surrounding the European economic integration? Should the existence of the single currency be put into question? How should Member States address the debate about the path in favour or against a deeper economic integration?
Links Official sources: European Economic and Social Committee’s official website http://www.eesc.europa.eu/?i=portal.en.about-the-committee European Central Bank’s official website https://www.ecb.europa.eu/ecb/orga/escb/html/convergence-criteria.en.html European Commission’s official website, with 5 presidents’ report on the process towards a deeper Economic and Monetary Union attached: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/publications/five-presidents-report-completing-europes-economic-and-monetary-union_en International Monetary Fund, Europe’s Road to Integration http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/ fandd/2014/03/moghadam.htm Academic sources: Investopedia, Economic Integration http://www.investopedia.com/terms/e/economic-integration.asp CATO institute, The European Union: A Critical Assessment https://www.cato.org/publications/economic-development-bulletin/european-union-critical-assessment
37 Media coverage: BBC News, “is the European project falling apart?” http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34940241 CNN, “the end of the European dream?” http://edition.cnn.com/2011/BUSINESS/06/30/chapple.euro.greece.crisis/index.html
By Ferdinand Mayrhofer (AT)
Committee on Industry, Research and Energy Looking forward to a complete Energy Union: Despite the introduction of different action plans, the EU imports over 50% of the energy it consumes. Upon completing the Energy Union, should the EU prioritise energy independence or sustainable energy production and how should it be implemented?
Key Terms The European Commission introduced the Framework Strategy for a Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Change Policy in 2015. Its main aim is to ensure good cooperation and trust between the Member States and that energy flows freely across borders, wherever it is needed.1 The Energy mix defines the usage of different energy sources in a state or region. Renewable energy sources are constantly being replenished and, unlike fossil fuels, are environmentally friendly. In addition, they release few chemicals that could possibly harm the environment. The five most important forms of renewable energy are biomass, hydropower, and wind, solar, and geothermal energy that account for 25% of the energy production in the European Union (EU).2 Volatile energy sources refers to the fact that production of these type of energy sources (wind and solar power) is unpredictable or not continuously available. They cannot be run for continuous load and on the other hand, require advanced energy storage that may not necessarily be an economically viable solution.3 Research and innovation (R&I): Research involves investing in discovering new technology. Per definition, innovation per se does not require investments. R&I is the key to finding new renewable energy sources and developing the existing low-carbon technology. Investing more in R&I activities, related to new energy technologies, is one of the priorities of Horizon 2020 to ensure clean energy production and energy security. Nearly EUR 8 billion from the total budget of EUR 75 billion are allocated for energy for 2014 - 2020.4 1 2 3 4
Communication from the Commission COM(2015) 80 final of 25.02.2015. “Energy Union Package”, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/resource.html?uri=cellar:1bd46c90-bdd4-11e4-bbe1-01aa75ed71a1.0001.03/DOC_1&format=PDF Eurostat, retrieved on 03.03.2017, “Glossary: Renewable Energy Sources”, http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Glossary:Renewable_energy_sources Renewable Energy World, 27.06.2011, “Renewable Integration: Solving the Volatility of a Smart Grid”, http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/articles/2011/06/renewable-integration-solving-the-volatility-of-a-smart-grid.html European Commission, retrieved on 27.02.2017, “Research & Innovation - Welcome to Horizon 2020”, https://ec.europa.eu/research/energy/index_en.cfm
39 Energy islands are countries or regions with little or no indigenous energy sources and insufficient links to energy transmission networks are named energy islands. What is more, they can often be dependent on a single external energy supplier.5
Explanation and relevance of the topic The EU imports over 50% of the energy it consumes, with Russian and Norwegian gas supplies accounting for 70% of that amount.6 The fact that the EU is highly dependent on few suppliers implies a risk of a supply disruption that can be caused by economic shocks, political tensions, or regional instability.
Supply disruptions can have a negative impact on not only European businesses but also households, as seen during the gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine.7 To prevent such a situation from happening in future the European Commission introduced the Energy Security Strategy8 in 2014, its main goals being increasing energy interconnectivity between the Member States and diversifying their energy mixes.
5 6 7 8
European Economic and Social Committee, 13.12.2012, “Getting EU Energy Islands Connected: Growth, Competitiveness, Solidarity and Sustainability in the EU Internal Energy Market”, http://www.eesc.europa.eu/?i=portal.en.ten-opinions.24285 Eurostat, 01.07.2016, “Energy Production and Imports”, http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php?title=Energy_production_and_imports Independent, 07.01.2009, “New Cold War in Europe as Russia Turns Off Gas Supplies”, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/new-cold-war-in-europe-as-russia-turns-off-gas-supplies-1230036.html European Commission, 28.05.2014, “European Energy Security Strategy”, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?qid=1407855611566&uri=CELEX:52014DC0330
40 In 2014 only 25% of the EU’s energy consumption was covered by renewable energy. Most of this energy was produced by the means of burning biomass and waste as well as using hydropower (80%). Other renewable energy sources played a minor role due to their high volatility and the remote production from the consumers.9 How can energy dependency on other countries be decreased, bearing in mind that some forms of renewable energy may not be reliable enough? A visual representation of energy independence and the reliance on foreign power power supply, by Peter Mayrhofer
Stakeholders The main goals of the EU’s energy policy are to reach a reliable provision and sustainable consumption of energy, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependency on fossil fuels. To reach those goals, the European Commission has developed different action plans.10 When it comes to legislation, energy and trans-European networks fall under the shared competence between the European Commission and the Member States. This means Member States can exercise their competence where the European Commission does not. Lastly, in case of a supply crisis the European Commission is responsible for the allocation of resources between the Member States. The European Parliament, especially the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, is responsible for ensuring the security of energy supply within the EU. In addition, the Parliament promotes development of new and renewable forms of energy, as well as the energy interconnectivity. Member States have to define their energy goals in accordance with the EU energy regulations and develop national action plans. This includes annual reports on the use of different energy sources, the safeguarding of the energy supply, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and the increase in energy efficiency. Private and public investors contribute to financing the expansion of existing infrastructure and investing in new energy infrastructure and technologies. In order to release the full potential of private investments, the European Commission supports private and public investors via the Investment Plan for Europe and Energy.11 Regarding energy providers and transmission network operators, the EU aims to ensure that they operate in a competitive environment to provide energy at affordable prices for private consumers and businesses.12 Playing a key role in the energy market, they ought to also develop new ways of energy production and ensure a smooth transmission of the energy from other countries to the EU, and within the EU. 9 10 11 12
Eurostat, 01.07.2016, “Energy Production and Imports”, http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php?title=Energy_production_and_imports European Commission, retrieved on 23.02.2017, “Energy Strategy”, http://ec.europa.eu/energy/en/topics/energy-strategy European Commission, 14.06.2016, “The Investment Plan for Europe and Energy: making the Energy Union a reality”, http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-16-2195_de.htm European Commission, retrieved on 23.02.2017, “Energy Strategy”, http://ec.europa.eu/energy/en/topics/energy-strategy
41 Energy suppliers/Foreign countries play an important role, as the EU is one of the largest energy importing regions in the world, and the biggest importer of natural gas.13 Energy exports are a significant source of income for states exporting large volumes of crude oil, natural gas, or other solid fuels. However, some of these countries are currently facing difficult political situations or have proven to be unreliable partners. Examples include Russia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and Libya. Other large energy providers with stable democracies are for example the United States, Norway, and Australia that are also exporting a notable amount of energy to Europe.
Key Conflicts A number of eastern European countries are highly dependent on natural gas imports from Russia. For instance, Lithuania imports nearly 80% of the energy it consumes and on average, more than 50% of the energy consumed in the EU is imported at a cost of approximately EUR 1 billion per day.14 Furthermore, it is important to keep in mind that supplies often go through transit countries, such as Ukraine. An outcome of the gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine was that Member States were not able to provide enough energy to compensate shortages that occurred during the conflict. Russia is the most important energy supplier for Europe, followed by Norway. Other countries include Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Libya. Regional instability, political tensions, or economic shocks in these countries can have a negative impact on their energy production, putting the EU’s energy security at risk.15 Moreover, by importing energy from unstable countries, the EU is indirectly supporting activities in those countries that are not in line with its values. To give an example, there are human rights violations taking place in Azerbaijan and there are issues when it comes to the freedom of press.16 When talking about diversifying energy sources, liquid natural gas (LNG) would be an alternative form of energy. However, there needs to be a way to transfer it to Europe. European Commission has addressed the issue and is now ensuring that LNG infrastructure is being built. Currently, LNG accounts for 10% of all EU gas imports17 and the most notable suppliers are Qatar, Australia and Malaysia.18 Another possibility to decrease the energy dependency might be to use renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power. In 2014, these two energy sources represented only 4.4% of the EU’s total energy production. The main problem related to wind power is that it puts high pressure on the electricity grid in case of an oversupply.19 In Germany alone, costs for grid operators to prevent blackouts reached EUR 1 billion in 2015 and these costs are expected to increase with the raising share of 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
European Commission, 16.02.2016, “Liquefied Natural Gas and Gas Storage Will Boost EU’s Energy Security”, http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-16-310_en.htm European Commission, retrieved on 23.02.2017, “Energy - Imports and Secure Supplies”, https://ec.europa.eu/energy/en/topics/imports-and-secure-supplies The National, 12.05.2014, “OMV Cuts 2014 Oil Production Target on Libya Uncertainty”, http://www.thenational.ae/business/energy/omv-cuts-2014-oil-production-target-on-libya-uncertainty Freedom House, 2016, “Freedom of the Press 2016 Report Azerbaijan”, https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-press/2016/azerbaijan European Commission, 16.02.2016, “Liquefied Natural Gas and Gas Storage Will Boost EU’s Energy Security”, http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-16-310_en.htm International Gas Union, 2016, “2016 World LNG Report”, www.igu.org/download/file/fid/2123, p. 10 The Guardian, 10.02.2012, “Grid Blackout Threat Weighs on Renewables Take-up”, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/feb/10/grid-blackout-threat-renewables
42 wind power plants. The costs are covered by consumers via higher network charges, which account for approximately 20% of the total electricity costs.20 Another factor related to wind power is the fact it is considered an intermittent source21, which means it switches on and off, therefore making coal and gas seem more reliable energy sources. Solar power, in turn, is currently favored within Member States with guaranteed support for up to 15 years22 that consequently, leads to high costs.23 Talking of reliable, renewable energy sources, biomass and hydropower can be used for base load, however, they are not unlimitedly available. The European Commission aims to ensure a sustainable production of biomass to effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To achieve the goal sustainability criteria were set and a Sustainability Report published in 2014.24 Hydropower is seen as one of the cleanest forms of energy production, but notwithstanding, can have a negative impact on the ecosystem of rivers and possibly high costs for adjusting the riverbeds.25 Finally, to reach the latest EU climate goals, Member States may reduce their usage of highly polluting energy sources in the future and shift to more environmentally friendly alternatives. To give an example, burning natural gas emits half the amount of CO2 emissions compared to burning coal.26 Since gas is one of the easiest replacements available for coal, countries who have been mining coal will have to start importing gas, thus finding themselves being more dependent on other countries than before. On the other hand, some Member States are attempting to shift their energy production to CO2 emission-free nuclear power, despite the fact it may be observed that uranium ore has to be imported as well. The largest suppliers of it being Russia and Kazakhstan,27 relying on nuclear power will not necessarily decrease the EU’s energy dependency.
Measures in place The European Commission introduced the Framework Strategy for a Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Change Policy in 2015. Its main aim is to ensure good cooperation and trust between the Member States and that energy flows freely across borders, wherever it is needed.28 20 The Global Warming Policy Forum, 28.01.2016, “Germany: Fight Against Blackouts As Expensive As Never Before”, http://www.thegwpf.com/germany-fight-against-blackouts-as-expensive-as-never-before/ 21 Mark Diesendorf, October 2007, “The Base-Load Fallacy”, http://www.ceem.unsw.edu.au/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/MarkBaseloadFallacyANZSEE.pdf, p.2 22 Wadim Strielkowski, Štěpán Krška, Evgeny Lisin, 2013, “Energy Economics and Policy of Renewable Energy Sources in the European Union”, www.econjournals.com/index.php/ijeep/article/download/528/306 23 European Commission, retrieved on 03.03.2017, “Energy - Support Schemes for Renewable Energy”, https://ec.europa.eu/energy/en/topics/renewable-energy/support-schemes 24 European Commission, retrieved on 03.03.2017, “Energy - Biomass”, https://ec.europa.eu/energy/en/topics/renewable-energy/biomass 25 Wadim Strielkowski, Štěpán Krška, Evgeny Lisin, 2013, “Energy Economics and Policy of Renewable Energy Sources in the European Union”, www.econjournals.com/index.php/ijeep/article/download/528/306 26 The Guardian, 18.11.2015, “UK to Close All Coal Power Plants in Switch to Gas and Nuclear”, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/nov/18/energy-policy-shift-climate-change-amber-rudd-backburner 27 European Commission, 2016, “EURATOM Supply Agency - Annual Report 2015”, http://ec.europa.eu/euratom/ar/last.pdf, p. 30 28 Communication from the Commission COM(2015) 80 final of 25.02.2015. “Energy Union Package”, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/resource.html?uri=cellar:1bd46c90-bdd4-11e4-bbe1-01aa75ed71a1.0001.03/DOC_1&format=PDF
43 In the aftermath of the gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine, the EU developed the Energy Security Strategy and released it in 2014. Its main aim is to ensure a stable energy supply for the citizens and businesses. As short term measures, the EU carried out energy security stress tests in 2014 and introduced a Gas Coordination Group to monitor the developments in the gas sector. As long term measures, the climate and energy efficiency goals set in the 2030 EU Energy Strategy are to be reached, energy sources diversified, and the internal energy market strengthened.29 2020/2030/2050 EU Energy Strategy: these energy strategies introduced in the past few years focus mainly on climate and energy efficiency goals. Additionally, they include measures to strengthen the internal market by new transmission infrastructure and by integrating neighbouring countries into the internal market. In 2013, the European Commission set up a list of Projects of Common Interest (PCIs) which are seen essential to reach the goal of the Energy Union. The list was updated in 2015 and consists of 195 infrastructure projects that will diversify energy sources, transportation routes, and contribute to ending energy isolation. A budget of EUR 5.35 billion is allocated to support these projects and in addition, accelerated permitting procedures and improved regulatory conditions are being provided.30 Some of the most recent projects, including Balticconnector, LitPol, and Karski project, target the Baltic region to reduce the energy dependency and let Baltic states participate in the European single energy market.31 After the success of the Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan) proposed in 2007, the European Commission adopted the new integrated SET-Plan in 2015 to support innovation in the energy sector to achieve sustainable, competitive, and secure energy supply. The SET-Plan includes ten key priorities to support R&I at European and national levels.32 Crude oil and its derivatives account for one third of the EU’s energy consumption. Since oil is an important resource, Member States are obliged to store it according to the Council Directive 2009/119/ EC of 14 September 2009 at least the amount of two-month energy consumption. They are also committed to providing the European Commission statistics about their stocks. 33 Natural gas constitutes about 25% of energy consumption in Europe. In October 2010, the Regulation (EU) No 994/2010 stated clearly that a diversification of energy suppliers is needed and investments in gas infrastructure have to be highly promoted. In February 2016, the Commission proposed an update to the existing regulation to ensure solidarity between Member States in case of a supply disrup29 30 31 32 33
European Commission, retrieved on 23.02.2017, “Energy Security Strategy”, http://ec.europa.eu/energy/en/topics/energy-strategy/energy-security-strategy European Commission, 18.11.2015, “Commission Unveils Key Energy Infrastructure Projects To Integrate Europe’s Energy Markets and Diversify Sources”, http://ec.europa.eu/energy/en/news/commission-unveils-list-195-key-energy-infrastructure-projects European Commission, 12.08.2016, “Balticconnector – Gas Pipeline: Questions and Answers”, http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-16-3476_en.htm Communication from the Commission C(2015) 6317 final of 15.09.2015. “Towards an Integrated Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan: Accelerating the European Energy System Transformation”, https://ec.europa.eu/energy/sites/ener/files/documents/1_EN_ACT_part1_v8_0.pdf “European Commission, retrieved on 23.02.2017, “EU Oil Stocks”, https://ec.europa.eu/energy/en/topics/imports-and-secure-supplies/eu-oil-stocks
44 tion. The proposal also addressed the need for raising the capacity for LNG, and established natural gas as a back-up option for renewable energy sources.34
Key Questions What are the main problems stressing the EU’s energy supply? How can the EU reach a stable energy supply for its citizens and consumers? What can be done to reduce the dependency on external energy suppliers whilst having the EU’s climate goals in mind? Which one of the factors - energy independence or sustainable energy production - should be prioritised? How can the high costs for supporting renewable energy sources can be reduced whilst raising energy production from these energy sources?
Additional links 1. Official sources Energy Production and Imports, Eurostat http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php?title=Energy_production_and_ imports Consumption of Energy, Eurostat http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Consumption_of_energy The European Energy Security Strategy, European Commission https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8Wj6qQVCrQ Fact Sheet on the European Union - Renewable Energy, European Parliament, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/ftu/pdf/en/FTU_5.7.4.pdf The Integrated SET Plan Fit For New Challenges, European Commission, https://ec.europa.eu/research/index.cfm?pg=newsalert&year=2015&na=na-150915 Energy - International Cooperation - Working With Our Energy Partners Abroad, European Commission https://ec.europa.eu/energy/en/topics/international-cooperation 2. Media sources “Europe Seeks Alternatives to Russian Gas Imports”, The New York Times, 16.02.2016, https:// www.nytimes.com/2016/02/17/business/energy-environment/european-union-seeks-to-reduce-reliance-on-russian-gas.html?_r=0
European Commission, retrieved on 23.02.2017, “Secure Gas Supplies”, https://ec.europa.eu/energy/en/topics/imports-and-secure-supplies/secure-gas-supplies
45 “Europe’s Dependency on Russian Gas May Be Cut Amid Energy Efficiency Focus”, The guardian, 09.09.2015, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/09/europe-dependency-russian-gas-energy-efficiency-eu 3. Academic sources Wadim Strielkowski, Štěpán Krška, Evgeny Lisin, 2013, “Energy Economics and Policy of Renewable Energy Sources in the European Union”, www.econjournals.com/index.php/ijeep/article/ download/528/306 Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats in the European Parliament, 10.02.2015, “Towards an Energy Union - a Sustainable Europe”, http://www.socialistsanddemocrats.eu/sites/default/ files/position_paper/Towards_an_Energy_Union_en_150210.pdf Dimitar Bechev - Centre for Southeast European Studies, 10.03.2016, “The EU’s Energy Union – an Opportunity for the Western Balkans”, http://www.suedosteuropa.uni-graz.at/biepag/ node/149
By Zöe Cassady (BE)
Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs I Looking forward to an integrated society: with hundreds of thousands of refugees having arrived in Europe in recent years, which policies should be put in place across the EU to ensure that migrants and refugees are integrated in society?
Key Terms A Refugee is a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.1 An asylum is a place meant to provide security for the so-called refugees.2 The EU Qualification Directive states that refugees granted asylum are to receive a residence permit that is valid for at least three years and is renewable. In most Member States the permit is issued for 5 years. To apply for permanent residence, refugees have to fulfil in most Member States certain conditions (e.g. basic language skills or knowledge of the host country’s political system)3 An asylum seeker is a person who, from fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, social group, or political opinion, has crossed an international frontier into a country in which he or she hopes to be granted refugee status4 A person who has yet be identified as a refugee, meaning they have not yet been granted refuge. A migrant is a person who leaves one country to settle permanently in another,5 in search of better economic possibilities, or to join their family, for example.
1 2 3 4 5
Oxford Dictionaries, 27-02-2017, “Refugee”, https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/refugee Nedha, 03-06-2015, “Difference Between Refugee and Asylum”, http://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-refugee-and-asylum-seeker/ Regina Konle-Seidl, 03-2016, “Labour Market Integration of Refugees: Strategies and good practices”, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2016/578956/IPOL_STU(2016)578956_EN.pdf The Free Dicctionary, 27-02-2017, “asylum seeker”, http://www.thefreedictionary.com/asylum+seekerThe Free Dictionary, 27-02-2017, “immigrant”, http://www.thefreedictionary.com/immigrant
Explanation and Relevance of the Topic Since 2015 there has been a dramatic refugee crisis with 1.26 million first time applicants in 2015.6 More than half of the asylum seekers originally came from the war-torn regions of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Given recent trends in the acceptance rates of asylum applications, we expect that roughly 1.3 million will attain refugee status, which grants them the right to stay—and many could decide to put down roots for the long term.7 As a result, there would be a whole new group joining society not only short-term, but permanently.
Diagram showing the number of refugees entering the EU from 2005-2015 http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Asylum_statistics
Many argue that immigration has a valuable role to play in strengthening the EU’s competitiveness, addressing current and future demographic challenges and filling labour shortages. According to the European Commission, the key to maximising the benefits of immigration is the successful integration of migrants into their host societies.8 While national approaches vary significantly within the EU, most programmes are mainstreamed into existing integration efforts. In this way the specific needs of some refugees risk being overlooked. Expert support is needed in order to help the refugees become self-reliant. 9 6 7 8 9
Eurostat, 22-12-2016, “Asylum statistics”, http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Asylum_statistics Frank Mattern, Eckart Windhagen, Solveigh Hieronimus, George Tsopelas, Jonathan Woetzel, and Anu Madgavkar, 11-2016, “A road map for integrating Europe’s refugees”, http://www.mckinsey.com/global-themes/employment-and-growth/a-road-map-for-integrating-europes-refugees European Commission - migration and home affairs, 27-02-2017, “Integration Fund”, https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/financing/fundings/migration-asylum-borders/integration-fund_en UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 09-2013, “A New Beginning: Refugee Integration in Europe”, http://www.refworld.org/docid/522980604.html
Distribution by age of (non-EU) first time asylum applicants in the EU and EFTA Member States, 2015. http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Asylum_statistics
More than four in five (83 %) of the first time asylum seekers in the EU-28 in 2015 were less than 35 years old; those in the age range 18â€“34 years accounted for slightly more than half (53 %) of the total number of first time asylum applicants, while nearly 3 in 10 (29 %) applicants were minors aged less than 18 years old. This shows that the biggest group arriving within EU borders are young adults capable of pursuing employment within their host countries. After being granted asylum, the asylum seekers transition to being refugees, which opens many doors at once: rights to work, access to structured language courses and access to housing. Nevertheless, statistical data shows that refugees often have educational attainment, lower labour market participation and higher likelihood of being overqualified for their current position when obtaining employment opportunities.10 Beyond ensuring that national and local systems run efficiently, greater cooperation is needed among countries and across the European Union more broadly. The longer-term challenge is improving the odds of integration for those who have the right to stay. Helping refugees fit into their new homes and become contributing members of society involves focusing simultaneously on four priorities: labormarket and economic integration, educational integration, housing and health integration, and socio cultural and language integration.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 09-2013, â€œA New Beginning: Refugee Integration in Europeâ€?, http://www.refworld.org/docid/522980604.html
49 Failing to integrate refugees within their host society has negative consequences for both the refugees as the Member States. Refugees face the risk of isolation, unemployment, and poverty, while destination countries might experience strained welfare systems and segregated societies. But succeeding in blooming integration can have great economic value to the asylum countries. Improving outcomes for this refugee cohort can deliver an overall GDP contribution of some €60 billion to €70 billion annually by 2025, as well as a potential demographic boost that could benefit aging societies.11
Stakeholders On the EU level, the European Commission is actively committed to carrying out its obligations under international law to offer safe haven and resources to refugees.12 While the integration of refugees and asylum seekers is a competence of Member States, the EU has an important role to play in providing support and incentives for Member States’ actions.13 Another priority of the European Commission is to make the asylum application process itself as streamlined and efficient as possible.14 European Union Member States are committed to increasing cooperation on cross-border issues, such as asylum, migration, border control, organised crime and terrorism. The Directorate-General (DG) Migration and Home Affairs prepares EU-level rules in these policy areas and watches over their application.15 The Civil protection and humanitarian aid operations within the European Commission aim to save and preserve life, prevent and alleviate human suffering and safeguard the integrity and dignity of populations affected by natural disasters and man-made crises.16 The asylum countries are the Member States taking on refugees. They aim to respect humanitarian laws, whilst maintaining their own benefits within their borders for their national population. The Member States can lead efforts towards integration, however they need to enlist support and involvement from the private sector, civil society, and international and humanitarian organizations.17 Germany has taken a strong stance on letting refugees into their borders. Now looking forward Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maizière aims for an open and frank debate about the consequences and challenges of the enormous stream of refugees. He further more pleads that we accept the decisions of immigration authorities in those cases where applications for refugee status are turned down. 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
Frank Mattern, Eckart Windhagen, Solveigh Hieronimus, George Tsopelas, Jonathan Woetzel, and Anu Madgavkar, 11-2016, “A road map for integrating Europe’s refugees”, http://www.mckinsey.com/global-themes/employment-and-growth/a-road-map-for-integrating-europes-refugees Frank Mattern, Eckart Windhagen, Solveigh Hieronimus, George Tsopelas, Jonathan Woetzel, and Anu Madgavkar, 11-2016, “A road map for integrating Europe’s refugees”, http://www.mckinsey.com/global-themes/employment-and-growth/a-road-map-for-integrating-europes-refugees European Commission - Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion, 27-02-2017, “Social and labour market integration of refugees”, http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=1274&langId=en Frank Mattern, Eckart Windhagen, Solveigh Hieronimus, George Tsopelas, Jonathan Woetzel, and Anu Madgavkar, 11-2016, “A road map for integrating Europe’s refugees”, http://www.mckinsey.com/global-themes/employment-and-growth/a-road-map-for-integrating-europes-refugees European Commission -Migration and home affairs, 28-02-2017, “Who we are”, https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/who-we-are_en European Commission- Civil protection and humanitarian aid operations ,28-02-2017, “About European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations”, http://ec.europa.eu/echo/who/about-echo_en Nils Zimmermann, 08-09-2015, “Germany’s challenge: Integration of refugees”, http://www.dw.com/en/germanys-challenge-integration-of-refugees/a-18702361
50 The main focus for German companies is getting the refugees to work as soon as possible.18 In Mechelen, Belgium the major is promoting various projects to break the bridge between “them” and “us”, like art works. They want to eliminate the fear within the general population of the dangers refugees could bring. An other example is they opened the new refugee center to the public, through involving the host population with the new arrivals they hope to create a mutual ground.19 In most Member States there have been many examples of solidarity of the host population towards asylum seekers. However there is a part of the population that fears the refugees, the different cultures and how they will effect the European world. As the main actors in this issue, asylum seekers are fleeing from their home country and hoping for a better future, where they do not fear persecution or war. Finally, Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) aim to find a way to integrate the people arriving. There are many different organisations working on a variety processes intended to integrate new arrivals. The European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) is a pan-European alliance of 90 NGOs protecting and advancing the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and displaced persons, whose mission is “to promote the establishment of fair and humane European asylum policies and practices in accordance with international human rights law”.20
Key Conflicts The main conflict is one of a fundamental different vision of the EU. Certain Europeans aspire to a humanitarian approach within the EU, but many countries are leaning towards nationalism. The humanitarian side of the EU is willing to aid those in need. However there are conflicting interest within the EU, as these efforts require large investments. This refugee crisis is taking place at the same time as the EU is struggling with internal issues , such as the economic crisis. A possible results is the high rise in right wing popularity, often promising to prioritise its own populations job security and welfare before that of immigrants. Refugees face challenges like loss of identity documentation and qualification certificates, non-acceptance of qualifications or educational attainment, trauma and uncertainty, anxiety over family separation, the long period of inactivity in the asylum system, and limited social networks.21 These combinations of factors often makes integration difficult, both in an economic and personal sense. Another issue is education, as often young refugees have moved a lot and have disrupted their studies when fleeing their country. Ensuring that they pursue education at a suitable level when arriv18 19 20 21
Nils Zimmermann, 08-09-2015, “Germany’s challenge: Integration of refugees”, http://www.dw.com/en/germanys-challenge-integration-of-refugees/a-18702361 Charlotte Mcdonals-Gibson, 3-12-2016, “Where Refugees Can Come Home”, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/03/opinion/sunday/where-refugees-can-come-home.html Ecre, 28-02-2017, “mission statement”, http://www.ecre.org/mission-statement/ UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 09-2013, “A New Beginning: Refugee Integration in Europe”, http://www.refworld.org/docid/522980604.html
51 ing in their host country is a challenge. Finally, compared to wider migrant groups and the receiving population, refugees struggle to access appropriate, secure, suitable and affordable housing.22 At the same time, right wing parties promoting stricter regulations for immigration are gaining votes throughout the EU.23 There is an uprise of xenophobia in most European countries, as Europeans fear higher birth and crime rates due to the arrival of refugees. Next to that there is continuously growing fear of Islam in light of recent terrorist attacks by extremists.
Measures in Place In the specific case of refugees, integration is based on the rights flowing from the Qualification Directive (2011). There is however no specific EU integration policy instrument. The European Social Fund’s (ESF) aim is to improve the employment opportunities of asylum seekers through social inclusion and swift integration into the labor market. However this support is only granted to those who have legal access to the labour market. Measures foreseen include language courses, skills identification and vocational training.24 Part of it, is the European Fund for the Integration of non-EU immigrants (EIF), for projects that are mainly targeted at newly arrived immigrants . The Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) provides asylum seekers with immediate relief (food, basic material assistance) and promoting their social inclusion, regardless of their legal status.25 However, Member States define the target groups individually and the scope of support by FEAD depends on the scope of the national programme. The Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency, funds cross-sectoral creative projects aimed at Refugee Integration.26 The Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) programme is a financing instrument at EU level to promote a high level of quality and sustainable employment, guaranteeing adequate and decent social protection, combating social exclusion and poverty and improving working conditions.27 The European Resettlement Network is an inclusive network that supports the development of resettlement in Europe by connecting a variety of actors involved in refugee resettlement. 28
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 09-2013, “A New Beginning: Refugee Integration in Europe”, http://www.refworld.org/docid/522980604.html Gregor Aisch, Adam Pearce and Bryant Rousseau, 5-12-2016, “How Far Is Europe Swinging to the Right?”, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/05/22/world/europe/europe-right-wing-austria-hungary.html?_r=0 European Commission - Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion, 27-02-2017, “Strategic alignment of EU funding instruments”, http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=1274&langId=en&intPageId=4317 European Commission - Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion, 27-02-2017, “Strategic alignment of EU funding instruments”, http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=1274&langId=en&intPageId=4317 Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency, “Refugee Integration Projects”, https://eacea.ec.europa.eu/creative-europe/actions/refugee-integration-projects_en European Commission - Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion, 27-02-2017, “EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI)”, http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?langId=en&catId=1081 European resettlement network, 27-02-2017, “Resettlement in Europe”, http://www.resettlement.eu/page/resettlement-europe-0
52 Finally, Foster care has been a way of integration especially for youth arriving in a new country. But with the refugee crisis more families have been hosting other families in order to help them find their place within society.29
Key Questions Which methods of integration should be promoted by the EU? How can the EU battle xenophobia? Which institutions are responsible for the integration of refugees? Should there be different approaches for long-/short-term refugees?
Additional Links a. Official sources Background note: Support to asylum seekers under the European Social Fund and the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived http://ec.europa.eu/esf/main.jsp?catId=3&langId=en&pubType=522 “Asylum statistics”, Eurostat, 22-12-2016, http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/ Asylum_statistics “EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI)”, European Commission - Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion, 27-02-2017, http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?langId=en&catId=1081 b. Media sources “The European Refugee Crisis and Syria Explained”, Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell, 17-09-2015, https://www. youtube.com/watch?v=RvOnXh3NN9w “Migrants Face Long Road To Integration In Europe’s Labour Market”, Klára Fóti, 30-01-2017, https://www.socialeurope.eu/2017/01/migrants-face-long-road-integration-europes-labour-market/ c. Academic sources “10 ways countries can help refugees integrate”, Victoria Crawford, 27-05-2016, https:// w w w.we fo r u m .o r g /a ge n d a /2 01 6/0 5 /1 0 - w ay s - co u n t r i e s - c a n - h e l p - re f u ge e s - i n te g ra te / “A road map for integrating Europe’s refugees”, Frank Mattern, Eckart Windhagen, Solveigh Hieronimus, George Tsopelas, Jonathan Woetzel, and Anu Madgavkar, 11-2016, http://www.mckinsey.com/global-themes/employment-and-growth/a-road-map-for-integrating-europes-refugees
Redcross, 28-02-2017, “Friends pave the way”, https://redcross.eu/projects/friends-show-the-wa-y
By Mina Radončić (RS)
Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs II Looking forward to more transparent politicians: corruption scandals in the French Presidential Campaign and Spanish politics bring focus on this issue at high levels in European politics. Which measures should be taken to combat corruption in EU Member States?
Key Terms Political corruption - The use of political power for private gain. Political corruption undermines democracy and good governance by subverting formal processes and compromising the respect of the rule of law. Not only does it affect politics and national institutions, but has a negative impact on the economic and social systems. Rule of law of the European Union (EU) - A system where fundamental rights and law are applied and enforced. The principles of the rule of law include a transparent, accountable and democratic legal process; independent and impartial courts; respect for fundamental rights and equality before the law.1 A whistleblower - A person who reports illegal activities occurring in public or private organisations. An external whistleblower brings allegations to the attention of external parties, such as law enforcement authorities or media. An internal whistleblower communicates the misconduct to another person within the organisation.
Explanation and Relevance of the Topic Equality before the law: as defined in the Treaty of the European Union (TEU), respect for the rule of law proposes a system where fundamental rights and law are applied and enforced, it being the backbone of any strong constitutional democracy. Nonetheless, 76% of Europeans think political corruption is widespread in their own countries, with a significant increase occurring since 2013. Western Balkan region and Greece were indicating some problems regarding law enforcement, whereas
The World Justice Project, retrieved on 21.02.2017, “What is the Rule of Law”, http://worldjusticeproject.org/what-rule-law
54 Denmark and Sweden were rated as the best performing.2 It is estimated that political corruption within the Member States has disastrous consequences, such as high levels of organised crime, more unequal societies, public mistrust and weaker rule of law. Corruption also poses a threat to the EU’s economy. By reducing tax revenues across the Member States and putting accountability of public EU-funded projects at risk3, corruption costs the EU economy up to EUR 900 billion each year. The sum includes the social and political costs, and the costs generated due to high levels of organised crime and the public mistrust.4 It should be taken into account there are no statistics available estimating the total cost of political corruption alone within the EU. Moreover, political corruption has much greater costs on national levels, causing contagious general threats to accountability of decision-makers.5 In spite of attempts to combat the existing issue, such as defining Union level, the study initiated by the European Parliament (EP) firmly of a proper EU definition of organised crime, the absence of an EU ing corruption in the public sector, the lack of an EU-wide system of tion and the fact that there is no consolidated framework for police and
public officials on a emphasises “the lack directive approximatwhistleblower protecjudicial cooperation”. 6
EU Anti-Corruption Report - Spain, European Commission7
2 3 4 5 6 7
Transparency International, retrieved on 25.01.2017, “Europe and Central Asia: an Overall Stagnation” http://www.transparency.org/news/feature/europe_and_central_asia_an_overall_stagnation Al Jazeera, retrieved on 04.02.2016, “Corruption Widespread in EU” http://www.aljazeera.com/news/europe/2014/02/eu-report-corruption-widespread-bloc-20142313322401478.html Resolution of 25.10.2016. “The Fight Against Corruption And Follow-Up of The CRIM Resolution”, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+TA+P8-TA-2016-0403+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN EU Observer, 23.03.2016, “Corruption Costs EU €71 bn a year”, https://euobserver.com/justice/132784 Murcia Today, 29.04.2013, “Police conclude that Bárcenas is the author of the Bárcenas papers”, http://murciatoday.com/police-conclude-that-b%C3%A1rcenas-is-the-author-of-the-b%C3%A1rcenas-papers_16349-a.html Euractiv, 03.02.2017, “Majority of French think Fillon should pull out of presidential race”, http://www.euractiv.com/section/elections/news/majority-of-french-people-think-fillon-should-pull-out-of-presidential-race/ European Parliament, 10.03.2016, “Cost of Non-Europe Report - Organised Crime and Corruption”, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/IDAN/2016/558779/EPRS_IDA%282016%29558779_EN.pdf Source: European Commission, 03.02.2014, “EU Anti-Corruption Report - Spain”, https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/sites/homeaffairs/files/what-we-do/policies/organized-crime-and-human-trafficking/corruption/anti-corruption-report/docs/2014_acr_spain_factsheet_en.pdf
Stakeholders The European Commission initiates and monitors Member States’ compliance with the terms of the EU Framework on combating corruption in the private sector8 and provides recommendations on improving the observations on the rule of law.9 Eurojust is the The European Union’s Judicial Cooperation Unit. It supports and strengthens co-operation between national investigating and prosecuting authorities in cases where serious crime affects two or more Member States.10 Eurojust combats corruption, fraud, and money laundering among others. Another international actor is the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO). It was established in 1999 by the Council of Europe to monitor States’ compliance with the organisation’s anti-corruption standards11. National governments are responsible for implementing signed international agreements. Numerous international non-governmental organisations12, such as Transparency International, were founded with the aim of combatting corruption in all its forms on a global level13. As an important communication channel between citizens and political actors, the media has an essential role in shaping public opinion on relevant topics in their countries. As core participants in political corruption, relevant political actors employed in public institutions can earn benefit by not being obliged by procedures and laws that ought to be respected by citizens. Citizens can feel general apathy and frustration upon realising that their institutions are prone to corruption. That further discourages people to work together for the sake of the common good, thus losing faith in the country they are living in and the power to state their opinion.
Key Conflicts According to the latest EU reports, political corruption within its Member States affects all of them on a large scale, especially when it comes to their economies. Thus, it poses a threat of spreading euroscepticism, with the public not being firmly persuaded in the idea of the EU being competent to react to such issues. 8 9 10 11 12 13
Council Framework 2003/568/JHA of 22.07.2013. “Combating Corruption in the Private Sector”, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32003F0568&from=EN European Commission, 21.11.2013, “The European Commission Explained: Functions and Tasks”, https://youtu.be/nWpgO1EPO_Y Eurojust, retrieved on 04.03.2017, “History of Eurojust”, http://www.eurojust.europa.eu/about/background/Pages/history.aspx Council of Europe, retrieved on 21.02.2017, “What is GRECO?”, http://www.coe.int/en/web/greco/about-greco/what-is-greco United Nations, List of Anti-Corruption Intergovernmental Organisations, http://www.anticorruptionday.org/actagainstcorruption/ar/resources/index.html#IGO Transparency International, 25.01.2017, “Corruption Perceptions Index: 2016”, http://www.transparency.org/news/feature/corruption_perceptions_index_2016
56 Bearing in mind the EU stopped publishing its Anti-Corruption Reports, numerous stakeholders are now under the impression that the Commission has quietly shelved all its previous efforts.14 Prior to the decision, EU countries disagreed with the Commission on publicly “naming and shaming” its measures, thus leaving the Commission with bare efforts of diplomatic negotiations with countries facing problems.15 Moreover, respected non-governmental organisations, such as Transparency International, strongly believe the Commission should be on the lead of combatting populism on its territory.16 It stated that the EU should set a clear transparency agenda, which was supported by its Member States through the mandatory registry. Taking these steps into account, the Commission ought to restore the trust of its citizens and influence EU law-making.17 Another issue at hand is the safeguarding of whistleblowers. The EU lacks adequate legislative measures to safeguard whistleblowers who bring allegations regarding politicians to the attention of general public. The European Parliament has consistently addressed the issue and called on the Commission to propose legislation. In its Resolution of 25.10.2016, the Parliament calls for “a legislative proposal defining and instituting common rules for the protection of whistleblowers; calls for such a proposal to be issued before the end of 2017”. 18 So far, no progress has been made. The reason why protecting whistleblowers is crucial, is that whistleblowing is of utmost importance in order to protect the public interest and maintain accountability in the public sector. Even though the United Nations Convention against Corruption19, the Council of Europe Civil Law Convention20 and the Council of Europe Criminal Convention21 acknowledge the importance of whistleblower protection, recent studies have shown whistleblowers across the EU have uneven levels of protection, or no protection at all.22 Therefore, whistleblowers who decide to report illegal activities oftentimes do so at high personal risk. Another drawback of speaking up is professional and personal costs that are likely to follow. When it comes to political dimension of the issue, integrity in politics is an EU-wide problem. The Anti-Corruption Report of 2014 states codes of conduct are an exception more than the rule within 14 Euractiv, 02.02.2017, “Commission ‘Quietly Shelves’ Corruption Report”, https://www.euractiv.com/section/justice-home-affairs/news/commission-quietly-shelves-corruption-report/ 15 Euractiv, 04.02.2014, “EU anti-corruption report stops short of ‘naming and shaming”, http://www.euractiv.com/section/justice-home-affairs/news/eu-anti-corruption-report-stops-short-of-naming-and-shaming/ 16 Euractiv, 22.11.2016, “EU Must Fight Corruption in Order to Fight Populism”, https://www.euractiv.com/section/public-affairs/news/transparency-boss-eu-must-fight-corruption-in-order-to-fight-populism/ 17 European Commission, 28.09.2016, “Delivering on Transparency: Commission Proposes Mandatory Transparency Register for All EU Institutions”, http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-16-3182_en.htm 18 Resolution of 25.10.2016. “The Fight Against Corruption And Follow-Up of The CRIM Resolution”, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+TA+P8-TA-2016-0403+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN 19 United Nations, 14.12.2005, “United Nations Convention against Corruption”, https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/corruption/uncac.html 20 ETS No. 174 of 01.11.2003. “Council of Europe Civil Law Convention”, https://www.coe.int/en/web/conventions/full-list/-/conventions/treaty/174 21 ETS No. 173 of 01.07.2002. “Council of Europe Criminal Convention”, https://www.coe.int/en/web/conventions/full-list/-/conventions/treaty/173 22 Vigjilenca et al., 04.05.2016, “Whistleblower Protection in the Public and Private Sector in the European Union”, http://www.greens-efa.eu/legacy/fileadmin/dam/Images/Transparency_campaign/WB_directive_draft_for_consultation_launch_May_2016.pdf
57 political parties. Even when such codes exist, they may lack sanctioning regulations or an effective monitoring mechanism. This has led to so-called quasi-impunity of political elite in some Member States.23 To tackle the issue, anti-corruption agencies have been established across the EU and in some Member States, these agencies are solely responsible for combating corruption. Nonetheless, a comprehensive approach is needed in order to address corruption throughout the public administration and both at central and local levels. For that purpose, effective external and internal control mechanisms need to be introduced: according to EU Anti-Corruption Report, internal controls across the country are “weak and uncoordinated” in many Member States.24
Measures in Place Article 31, TEU - according to the TEU, the Union may adopt directives which “establish minimum rules concerning the definition of criminal offences and sanctions in the areas of particularly serious crime with a cross-border dimension resulting from the nature or impact of such offences or from a special need to combat them on a common basis”. These areas of crime are money laundering, corruption and organised crime. Civil Law Convention on Corruption - the first attempt made by the Council of Europe in defining international rules in the field of corruption and civil law, monitored by GRECO25. It requires for its signatories to define domestic law with regards to “effective remedies for persons who have suffered damage as a result of acts of corruption, to enable them to defend their rights and interests, including the possibility of obtaining compensation for damage” (Article 1).26 Anti-Corruption Reports - a mechanism of the European Commission serving to show a clear picture of the state of corruption in its Member States.27 Anti-Corruption Reports were meant to be published bi-annually but the Commission decided to drop them earlier this year, concluding that there was no need to publish further reports.
Ensuring Transparency: What would help the EU achieve a comprehensive solution for ensuring transparency and adequately fighting against corruption in its countries? The importance of whistleblowers protection: What measures should the EU take whilst not infringing the national sovereignty of its Member States? 23 24 25 26 27
Report COM(2014) 38 final of 03.02.2014. “EU Anti-Corruption Report”, https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/sites/homeaffairs/files/e-library/documents/policies/organized-crime-and-human-trafficking/corruption/docs/acr_2014_en.pdf, p.8 Report COM(2014) 38 final of 03.02.2014. “EU Anti-Corruption Report”, https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/sites/homeaffairs/files/e-library/documents/policies/organized-crime-and-human-trafficking/corruption/docs/acr_2014_en.pdf, p.11 Council of Europe, retrieved on 21.02.2017, “ Group of States against Corruption, http://www.coe.int/en/web/greco/home Council of Europe, retrieved on 21.02.2017, “Civil Law Convention on Corruption”, http://www.coe.int/en/web/conventions/full-list/-/conventions/treaty/174 European Commission, retrieved on 21.02.2017, “Policies - Anti-Corruption Report”, https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/organized-crime-and-human-trafficking/corruption/anti-corruption-report_en
58 A broader rule of law monitoring framework: How should the EU monitor the transparency violations within its Member States? Public procurement: Seeing that it creates large economic losses on a European level, in which way should the EU enforce measures against public procurement corruption in its countries?
Additional Links a. Official sources (institutional sources) EU Anti-Corruption Report, European Commission https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/organized-crime-and-human-trafficking/corruption/anti-corruption-report_en Cost of Non-Europe Report - Organised Crime and Corruption, European Parliament http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/IDAN/2016/558779/EPRS_IDA%282016%29558779_ EN.pdf b. Media sources “French Presidential Contender François Fillon Faces Fresh Claims over Wife’s Pay”, The Guardian, 07.02.2017, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/07/french-presidential-contender-francoisfillon-faces-fresh-claims-over-wifes-pay “Uncovering Corruption Is a Risky Endeavour in Spain”, NY Times, 14.05.2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/15/world/europe/spanish-activists-push-for-laws-to-protect-whistle-blowers.html?_r=1 “Spain Strengthens Transparency Law Intended to Fight Corruption”, Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-spain-informationfreedom-idUSBRE98B13020130912
“Corruption costs the EU more than €990 bilion a year”, Politico, 22.03.2016, http://www.politico.eu/ article/corruption-costs-eu-990-billion-year-rand-study-fraud-funding/ c. Academic sources EP Think Tank, 20.10.2016, “Fight Against Corruption”, https://epthinktank.eu/2016/10/20/fight-against-corruption/ RAND, 22.03.2016, “The Cost of Corruption in Europe”, http://www.rand.org/news/press/2016/03/22.html EU Observer, 23.03.2016, “Corruption Costs EU €71 Billion a Year”, https://euobserver.com/justice/132784
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