ACADEMIC PREPARATION KIT 5th Regional Selection Conference of EYP Czech Republic Litoměřice 2018
TABLE OF CONTENTS Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Climate change Public Health and Food Safety I Public Health and Food Safety II Legal Affairs Internal Market and Consumer Protection Security and Defence I Security and Defence II
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TOPICS Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) As the European Union treaties set up framework for European institutions to tackle discrimination based on sex and sexual orientation, with legislation varying vastly between Member States, what steps can the EU take to ensure the rights of its transgender citizens, keeping in mind that some of its Member States remain opposed to reforming their legislation? Committee on Climate Change (CLIM) With the EU still as the third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the USA, contributing to climate change heavily, how can the EU ensure that lowering greenhouse gas emissions and slowing down climate change becomes a priority for all of its Member States? Committee on Public Health and Food Safety I (ENVI I) With economic conditions in Europe remaining challenging, what should the role of the startups in the culture and arts sector be in fostering a new wave of entrepreneurship and stimulating economic development in Europe? Committee on Public Health and Food Safety II (ENVI II) Cannabis: From dope to hope. With more and more research suggesting that marijuana helps patients battling various diseases, mental or otherwise, how can the EU help those in need while keeping in mind the controversies caused by cannabis?
Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) With the European Parliament election coming up in May 2019 and the Cambridge Analytica scandal of employing data mining to influence public opinion still fresh in everyone’s minds, what measures should the EU take in order to prevent such practices from taking place in future elections? Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) Single market, double standards: cases of food producers using varying quality of ingredients dependingx on the country of destination have been catching the spotlight of consumers, media, and decision-makers across the Union. How can the EU ensure that citizens of all Member States have access to food products maintaining the same standards of production? Committee on Security and Defence I (SEDE I) With severe wildfires and natural catastrophes becoming more frequent across Europe, international cooperation in tackling them grows ever more important. Taking into account experiences such as the 2018 Swedish and Greek wildfires, how can the EU further improve its Civil Protection Mechanism and other measures in order to prepare for catastrophic events in the future? Committee on Security and Defence II (SEDE II) Across the Mediterranean: with the death toll of those attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea with the purpose of immigrating to EU countries outrageously high, what measures can the EU take to prevent the loss of lives while maintaining security of its borders?
Before you dive into this booklet and Litoměřice, it is important to deepen your understanding of how does the EU function and what are its competences. For this reason we recommend that you visit these two helpful pages: • EU institutions • EU competences
COMMITTEE ON CIVIL LIBERTIES, JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS As the European Union treaties set up framework for European institutions to tackle discrimination based on sex and sexual orientation, with legislation varying vastly between Member States, what steps can the EU take to ensure the rights of its transgender citizens, keeping in mind that some of its Member States remain opposed to reforming their legislation? Ngoc Anh Nguyen (CZ), Zuzanna Łężna (PL) Why does it matter? In recent years, the LGBT community has been gaining visibility, with social movements emerging in both more liberal, western societies, as well as in eastern, traditional and conservative places. Many countries in the European Union, such as the Netherlands or the UK, have in recent years updated the long outdated and no longer relevant legislation to ensure a safer and easier life for their transgender citizens. However, many Member States still hold on to their obsolete laws, and hate crimes against trans people are still a common occurrence even in the most tolerant and open-minded societies. In 2017 alone, over 30% of trans people in the UK reported being victims of hate crimes,1 while the Stonewall Foundation reports that transgender people are twice as likely to be victims of hate crimes than other LGBT people. Moreover, most Member States have very rigid and difficult to fulfil requirements to access transgender-specific healthcare and gender reassignment treatments, many of them requiring conditions such as forced sterilisation, which has been found to be a human rights violation by the European Court of Justice,2 or a “real-life experience”,3 with some countries having no legislation on this matter at all. Furthermore, a large amount of EU states, such as Poland4 or Latvia5, have no transgender-specific anti-discrimination laws. This results in huge disparities between the life standard of transgender individuals in each Member State.
‘’More than a third of all trans people suffered hate crimes in 2017, research suggests’’, Independent UK ‘’Human Rights Victory! European Court of Human Rights ends forced sterilisation’’, Transgender Europe ‘’Transgender Persons’ Rights in the EU Member States’’, European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, page 6 4 Information paper on LGBTI discrimination in Poland for the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), 2014, page 4 5 Legal Study on Homophobia and Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Latvia by the FRA, page 1 1 2 3
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Public opinion and governmental approaches have developed significantly over the past decade. Nevertheless, transgender people still suffer from a lack of understanding, resources and facilitations in many EU countries. While keeping in mind some Member States’ social environments and lack of understanding, the EU needs to face the challenge of ensuring the protection and safety of its transgender citizens, while considering some Member States’ social environments and lack of understanding among the public.
What is the problem? The legal situation of transgender individuals in the European Union varies enormously in each Member State. Some countries, such as Hungary, do not legally recognise transgender people at all, making the social adjustment impossible. However, even in countries that do allow administrative recognition, it is often only after undergoing various examinations and medical procedures, many of those not needed or desired by transgender individuals. Those procedures include hormonal therapy, examinations by doctors, who very often are uneducated about transgender issues and unwilling to help,6 or even forced sterilisation in 12 Member States, including Belgium, Estonia or the Czech Republic. In contrast, some EU countries, particularly western states such as Malta, Denmark or the Netherlands have easy administration and healthcare access. Besides the difficulties faced in administration and healthcare, trans people are also often subject to bullying, harassment and hate crimes. In an ILGA-Europe survey among transgender individuals in the European Union, 79% of respondents reported they had experienced some form of harassment in public ranging from transphobic comments to physical or sexual abuse.7 Young people are particularly at risk of such behaviour. According to FRA research, LGBT students often experience bullying at school due to their perceived identity, and 67 percent of them hide their sexual orientation or gender identity. The same report found that 91 percent of respondents had heard negative comments or seen negative conduct because a schoolmate was perceived to be LGBT.8 With some Member States having no anti-discrimination rights tackling violence towards transgender individuals and the lack of confidence in the police, which results in underreporting of such crimes, transgender people are at an extreme risk of being victims of abuse and hate crimes. The discrimination of transgender individuals often stems from LGBT movements being seen as a threat to traditional values, such as marriage, family or religion.9 This is particularly prominent in places such as Latvia, Poland or Lithuania. Dislike and social stigma around transgender people is also often caused by a general lack of understanding and education.10
6 Issue paper on Human Rights and Gender identity of the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Coun-
cil of Europe, page 27 7 ‘’Transphobic Hate Crime in the European Union’’, ILGA-Europe, pages 1 and 2 8 ‘’The Illusion of the EU’s commitment to LGBT rights’’, EU observer 9 ‘’Why transgender people are being sterilised in some European countries’’, The Economist 10 ‘’Poor knowledge leads to prolonged discrimination of LGBT people’’, The Jakarta Post
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Key actors •
European citizens are the ones primarily concerned with those issues, being both the perpetrators and victims of transgender discrimination. Many of them are prominent activists both advocating for and against reforms in transgender rights in individual countries. NGOs, such as the IGLYO (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex Youth and Student Organisation), ILGA-Europe (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Association) or Transgender Europe, are a crucial part in advocating for LGBT rights through campaigning, legal action and support and performing a consultative role at the European level. The European Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) is an EU body, primarily concerned with collecting and analysing data on fundamental human rights, in principle referencing those listed in the Charter of Fundamental Human Rights. The European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT rights consists of EP’s legislators focusing on LGBTQI rights within and outside the European Union. This informal group reviews the legislative work of the European Parliament, making sure that LGBTQI rights are involved. It also informs the European Commision on the current problems of the community and advises them on how they should be solved. EU Member States regulate the rights of transgender individuals in their countries.
Measures in place •
The Charter of Fundamental Human Rights of the European Union, in Article 21, states that “any discrimination based on any ground such as sex, [...] or sexual orientation shall be prohibited”. This article does not specifically mention gender identity as a separate measure. However, the past rulings of the European Court of Justice interpret discrimination on the basis of ‘sex’ as also applicable to people who have undergone ‘gender reassignment’, thus making all EU sex discrimination laws relevant to transgender people. The European Convention on Human Rights, in Article 8, states that “everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence” and that “there shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right” Legal recognition of non-binary gender – just recently, on the 19th of October 2018, the Netherlands have issued its first passport with a neither female nor male gender marker. Other countries who offer this kind of a choice are Argentina, Australia, Canada, Denmark, India, Malta, Nepal, New Zealand and Pakistan. However, some EU Member States still stand opposed to the idea – for example, in June 2018, the UK refused to do so, which has been found to be unlawful.11
11 “UK refusal to issue gender-neutral passports unlawful, high court told”, The Guardian
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The “Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act, 2015” passed in Malta states that “every citizen of Malta has the right to the recognition of their gender identity, [...] be treated according to their gender identity and, particularly, to be identified in that way in the documents providing their identity”. The act also guarantees the respect for one’s gender identity at all times, including circumstances such as marriage or parenting and ensures the facilitation of a name and gender change in legal documents.
Field of maneuver: possible actors & solutions Without a doubt, all human beings should be treated equally. No matter who we love, how we look or how we feel, none of that should define us nor let us be treated differently. It is important that all of us remember that. Breaking the public stigma should be the first step because any legal action is only possible with the public’s demand. Linked to that is the lack of knowledge about transgender issues. Some agencies, such as the EU Intergroup on LGBT+ rights, and NGOs, notably Transgender Europe, carry out research to gather statistics concerning the situation of transgender citizens, as well as workshops and lectures on the matter. In many Member States, transgender people still face administrative obstacles in changing their legal name or gender marker. However, countries such as the Netherlands or Estonia, have adapted a system where no hormonal treatment or surgery is required to obtain gender reassignment.12 In considering solutions for this problem, the differences in Member States’ politics need to be kept in mind and respected. The recommendations on this issue need to be applicable to countries that may not approve of laws favourable to transgender individuals. While the EU cannot impose any legislation on the matters of civil protection and public health on individual Member States, it has the power to aid their work, provide advice to national governments and compliment their work and efforts.
‘’Transgender Persons’ Rights in the EU Member States’’, European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs 12
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Key questions • • •
How can Member States maintain the balance between the social environment, especially in more conservative countries, and protecting the fundamental human rights of all citizens? How can the European Union ensure protection of transgender rights in all of its Member States, while respecting the countries’ sovereignty? What other bodies should the European Union work with in order to ensure that there will be no more discrimination (in areas such as work, healthcare etc.)?
Links for further research • • •
Transgender Europe: overview of transgender rights in the EU European Commission on sexual orientation law TED talk: ‚’The real pain and tragedy faced by transgender youth’’ by Daniella Carter
Keywords for googling • •
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Transgender discrimination EU Transgender rights EU
COMMITTEE ON CLIMATE CHANGE With the EU still as the third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the USA, contributing to climate change heavily, how can the EU ensure that lowering greenhouse gas emissions and slowing down climate change becomes a priority for all of its Member States? Klára Hanzlíková (CZ), Jakub Rech (CZ) Why does it matter? Climate change is one of the most threatening and universal problems of our time with consequences affecting not only the present, but also the distant future. Climate change is expected to have unpredictable impact on the ecosystem, such as, but not limited to, temperature changes, sea-level rise, glacier and snow cover melting.1 Dry areas are becoming even more dry; regions with droughts now experience even bigger droughts. The impact of climate change varies across Europe depending on climate, geographic and other conditions. Another big problem that has to be taken into consideration is deforestation. Forests play a huge role in the carbon cycle of our planet. When forests are cut down, not only does carbon absorption cease, but also the carbon stored in the trees is released into the atmosphere as CO2 if the wood is burned or even if it is left to rot after the deforestation process. Climate change poses a fundamental threat to places, species and people’s livelihoods that the World Wildlife Fund works to protect.2 Taking into consideration the financial side of this problem, it is predicted that improving the situation surrounding climate change will be costly. At least 20% of the EU’s budget should be spent on climate action. Nevertheless, taking action is vital to ensure that future generations have a place to live as pleasant as we have right now.3
1 Infographic: How climate change is affecting Europe, European Parliament 2 Deforestation, Climate and Weather 3 The cost of improving the climate situation, European Environment Agency
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What is the problem? Although the EU is aware of the danger climate change brings, the actual contribution to make the situation better varies between states. On one hand we have states such as Sweden, Finland or Latvia4 where renewable energy already makes a significant part of energy production, but there are also states where most of the energy comes from non-renewable sources. To harmonise the legislation, Member States should first get to a point where the energy received from renewable sources is approximately on the same level. What may seem like ignorance does not necessarily come from governments themselves, but rather from a conflict. The countries where coal production stands for a considerable part of GDP serve as a great example. These are often the countries that use coal as their main energy source. For example, 90% of energy in Poland5 comes from coal-fired plants. Restricting the use of non-renewable energy would imply that some countries might lose a significant part of their income. The transition to alternative energy sources in this case cannot be rushed considering the amount of people working in power plants and in companies processing coal. One must not forget that energy companies can easily lobby the policy-makers due to their economic significance. Another issue comes from the transport sector. Although the EU has set a certain percentage of how many cars should be electric or hybrid by 2030, several states, most notably Germany, complained that this proposal would kill the car industry.6 Such behaviour causes problems when trying to tackle the problem of global warming internationally.
Key actors • • • •
• • •
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The EU, through its bodies, is proposing restrictions and limits to improve the overall situation. Member States of the EU are responsible for the amount of their emissions and only they can make the much needed change. NGOs helping to raise awareness about climate change are, for example, Greenpeace, Climate Action Network, World Wildlife Fund, and many more. The UN Climate Convention (UNFCCC) is an international environmental treaty with one of its objectives being the stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Factories are the main emitters of greenhouse gasses. Agriculture sector makes a significant share on greenhouse gas emissions. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an intergovernmental body of United Nations dedicated to provide the world with an objective, scientific view of climate change and its political and economic impacts.
Share of energy from renewable sources in the EU member states, Eurostat Coal in Poland, World Energy Council The rise of electric cars could kill thousands of auto manufacturing jobs, Wolf Richter
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Measures in place The EU has already set measures to prevent the concentration of greenhouse gases from rising. The most important measures are the energy strategies for 20307 and 20508, which both aim to lower the emissions by 40% and 80% respectively, compared to 1990. A very ambitious part of the 2030 Energy plan is to reform EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS).9 The ETS aims to reduce the industry’s carbon emissions by making companies pay for every ton of CO2 produced. Although this system has been in use since 2005, it is not efficient mainly because the emission permits are cheap. Sadly, the ETS covers only 40% of overall emissions in the EU. The remaining 60% is caused by sectors such as transport, agriculture, buildings and waste management. In accordance with the Effort Sharing Regulation, by 2030 the emissions from theses sectors will be cut by 30% compared to 2005.10 The Regulation sets a minimum contribution to emission reduction for countries based on their GDP. This is also part of EU’s commitment in the Paris Agreement11. 10.9% of greenhouse gas emissions are absorbed by trees.12 Therefore, the European Parliament pushes for legislation that would force each MS to either plant new trees,13 or decrease emissions in case of deforestation. The only issue is that although the forests stand for 43% of EU’s land, the coverage considerably varies between MS. Transport is responsible for 15% of EU’s greenhouse gas emissions and it is the only sector, where the amount of emission remains higher than in 1990.14 Therefore, the EU created Proposal for post-2020 CO2 targets for cars and vans15, which aims to lower the maximum limit of CO2/km. Another, more ambitious idea proposes that 35% of sold cars in 2030 should be electric or hybrid in contrast to less than 1.5% today.
Field of maneuver: possible actions & solutions Much has already been done by the EU; however, Member States are often reluctant to implement the changes. In the area of environment, the Member States can act as they wish as long as there are no regulations, directives or legislations by the European Commission. Even though countries have to follow the regulations, directives and legislation by the European Commission, Member States can also be even stricter and apply more extreme measures. 2030 Energy Strategy, European Commission 2050 Energy Strategy, European Commission The EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and its reform in brief, European Parliament Cutting EU greenhouse gas emissions: national targets for 2030, European Parliament An agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), dealing with greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance. 12 Climate change: using EU forests to offset carbon emissions, European Parliament 13 Forestry as a tool to counter climate change: MEPs strike deal with Council, European Parliament 14 Reducing car emissions: new CO2 targets for cars explained, European Parliament 15 Proposal for post-2020 CO2 targets for cars and vans, European Commission 7 8 9 10 11
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Sweden can be used as an example of a country tackling the issue well.16 The country has been concerned about climate change since the 1970s and 26% of its population claims climate change to be the most important social issue. Swedish government has gone so far that they are setting national limits for emissions much lower than the maximum set by EU. Sadly, not all countries have such a tradition of caring about the environment, so it is not expected for all of them to have the same approach as Sweden. Still, the committee should be able to motivate all of Member States to work in a similar way for the good of the whole world.
Key questions • • •
What are the possible measures could the Member States adopt in order to improve the condition of climate as it is now? How can the EU ensure transition to less ecologically challenging energetical sources? How can the EU support the shift from fossil fuels to electric and hybrid vehicles?
Links for further research • • • • •
What is climate change Climate change impacts in Europe Climate change key findings European Trading System UNFCCC
Keywords for googling greenhouse gases, environment, emissions, alternative energy, Paris Agreement, Emission Trading System (ETS)
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Sweden Tackles Climate Change, Swedish government
COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC HEALTH AND FOOD SAFETY I With the Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020 emphasising mental health developmental aspects for the youth, for instance, having a positive sense of identity, the ability to manage thoughts and emotions, as well as building social relationships, how can the EU ensure its educational institutions to provide the tools, the setting, and the support required to reach the goals of Mental Health Action Plan? Patryk Sapała-Niedzin (PL), Jorden Kent (LU) Why does it matter? Good mental health is essential for one’s overall well-being and efficient functioning in everyday life. Especially in children and adolescents, the high prevalence of mental illnesses is a pressing issue. The main concern when discussing this topic is the high toll of suicides among teenagers, which amounts to more than 4,000 deaths every year. Boys are seemingly more affected, seeing as 3 out of 4 suicides are committed by males. Overall, 29% of girls and 13% of boys aged 15 report “feeling low” at least once a week,1 which is alarming. This issue can be linked to several factors – perhaps most prominently, the rise of social media.2 In recent years, body image3 has become more important, as have expectations to look and act a certain way, projected by influential social media channels, which have carved children’s and adolescents’ perception of themselves. This has had a negative effect on young people’s self-confidence, giving rise to various eating disorders connected with body image issues, such as anorexia and bulimia. Providing young people with a healthy environment should be of utmost importance, especially in schools, where they spend the majority of their day. Despite the fact that many schools already have a support system in place for pupils in need, there is still lack of cohesive approach in most Member States. As not much is done comprehensively for the prevention of mental illnesses in these institutions4 and given that 75%5 of mental health issues start in adolescence, it is imperative that more is done.
1 Factsheet by WHO Europe on Adolescent mental health in the European Region 2 Relation between social media and mental health in children 3 Negative Body Image Related To Depression, Anxiety And Suicidality 4 How schools can help their pupils, The Conversation 5 How to combat neglect of mental health issues in youths, London School of Economics
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Many people still believe this issue is negligible6 and therefore the importance of this topic towards the general population cannot be stressed enough.
What is the problem? The Mental Health Action Plan, which has been set by World Health Organization for the years 2013— 2020, is supposed to tackle the problem of mental illnesses among the world’s population. The plan’s timeframe is already drawing to a close, therefore the EU needs to ensure that it is properly implemented across all Member States. In 2014, 7% of EU citizens reported suffering from chronic depression, while 4% of all deaths in that same year were directly associated with suffering from mental and behavioural disorders. The figures in terms of hospitalisation are even higher. In 2015, 14% of all hospital beds in the EU were psychiatric care beds.7 Despite the existence of the Mental Health Action Plan, the number of people affected by this issue is not decreasing. The situation is actually quite the opposite. One of the most concerning issues related to this topic are the mental health problems among adolescents. According to The Independent, rates of depression and anxiety among teenagers have increased by 70% in the past 25 years.8 Stigmatisation9 is a phenomenon inherently tied to discussions about mental health. One study identified family members (46% of examined cases), peers (62%), and teachers and school staff (35%) as primary sources of stigmatisation of mental health issues directed at adolescents. This suggests that one of the fundamental reasons for the prevalence of the issue is the lack of awareness around mental health. As the action plan has been issued by WHO, it is up to every country to independently implement its recommendations. The EU might step in to coordinate and support Member States’ actions. This necessity stems from the fact that 3 out of 4 people suffering from major depression feel like they are not receiving adequate treatment.10 The causes and solutions need to be found if the European Union’s society is to be a thriving, happy, and healthy one.
6 7 8 9 10
Ibidem Mental health statistics, Eurostat Article about teenage mental health, The Independent Article about stigmatisation, Psychology Today Statistics on mental health, WHO
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Key actors •
World Health Organization – organisation that works within the system of the UN to guarantee the highest attainable level of healthcare worldwide; it directs and coordinates international healthcare through working directly with the governments of the UN member states and other partners. Member States – apart from making local legislative decisions, they are included in joint action plans, like the Joint Action for Mental Health and Well-Being11 and regulations issued by the European Parliament that work towards a sufficient and common level of mental health care throughout the European Union. Non-governmental organisations, such as: • Mental Health Europe – an NGO with a mission to uphold the mental health and well-being of EU citizens, regardless of their age, sex, race or financial situation and status; • European Network for Mental Health Promotion12 – an organisation aiming to be the largest network for mental health promotion in Europe, providing information, tools, methods, training and a communications platform for all who are interested in this area. Educational institutions – as the body of first contact with school youth, they are usually the first place where students can seek help.
Measures in place •
The WHO European Mental Health Action Plan13 – an action plan for the years of 2013 to 2020 that includes seven objectives for the UN member states and the WHO. Covers topics mainly concerning upholding equal human rights for people with mental health issues, promoting social inclusion and combating stigma; The Joint Action for Mental Health and Well-Being14 – involves 51 partners representing 28 Member States and 11 European organisations. It aims to promote mental health and well-being, to prevent mental disorders and to improve care and social inclusion for people with mental disorders in Europe; Sunshine and Transparency laws and regulations – grant transparency in the transactions between medical community and the pharma industry in each Member State. SePAS – service offered at secondary schools in Luxembourg. Every high school employs a pluridisciplinary group consisting of a psychologist, a social worker, a graduate educator, and a minimum of one career advisor15.
11 Joint Action for Mental Health and Well-Being 12 European Network for Mental Health Promotion 13 The European Mental Health Action Plan 14 Joint Action, Mental Health and Wellbeing 15 Teacher tasked with helping students to decide which path of further education they should take.
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Field of maneuver: possible actions & solutions Despite there being many existing measures in place, there is always room for improvement. For example, even though there are many functioning psychologist groups in schools,16 this is not the case in every Member State. Many schools still lack the adequate resources and experienced people to be able to cope with the problem closest to its source. Oftentimes, even if there is a psychologist at a particular school, the help they are offering is insufficient. One step forward in fighting this issue would be to make sure that each school receives the crucial ability to help their students. An example of a well-designed mental health care system would be the aforementioned SePAS, functioning in Luxembourg. It works towards preventing mental illness among secondary school students and also helps to guide them in their most difficult choices regarding their future, which usually puts a lot of stress on a person. There are many means that the SePAS employs in order to fulfil its goal,17 including working with the students’ parents, organising workshops that provide elementary knowledge about dealing with mental illnesses and people affected by them, and assigning a team of professionals, who are qualified to work in mental health area at every school. However, that is not the only area that would benefit from improvement. As the aforementioned statistics show, there is a substantial problem caused by society’s lack of awareness and understanding towards people affected by mental illness. According to the WHO,18 viable solutions to this problem should focus around spreading the most important and accurate information concerning mental health among the EU community, as well as countering the false stereotypes and misconceptions. Talking about it more openly would change the societal approach to it. Another crucial thing to do would be including the people who are suffering from a mental illness in all aspects of community life, and ensure that they are not purposefully excluded from any such aspect. This can happen for example in their workplace, and while trying to gain access to certain community services. That is why legislation tackling this issue needs to exist. An important thing to remember is that the EU only has supportive competences in the area of human health. This means that it cannot force any legislation upon Member States. It can only suggest or recommend taking actions in a specific field, or creation of new legislations. In other words, it is up to each Member State to decide whether it will follow the EU’s guidelines or not.
16 SePAS (in french) 17 SePAS - informational website (in French) 18 WHO fact sheet presenting solutions to stigmatisation
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Key questions • • • • •
How can we incentivise young people to reach out and get help? What can be done to reduce stigmatisation and judgement? What features make mental health aid systems most effective? How can we ensure proper social inclusion for people affected by mental illness? How much of an input do educational institutions have in promoting positive mindsets in their students?
Links for further research • • •
WHO Europe – fact sheet on mental health WHO – Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan The Independent – “Teenage mental-health crisis: Rates of depression have soared in past 25 years”
• • •
WHO – fact sheet on stigmatisation WHO – fact sheet on mental disorders Eurostat – Statistics Explained – mental health in European Union
Keywords for googling Stigmatisation, peer pressure, stigma by association, burnout in teens, combating stereotypes, social exclusion
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COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC HEALTH AND FOOD SAFETY II Cannabis: From dope to hope. With more and more research suggesting that marijuana helps patients battling various diseases, mental or otherwise, how can the EU help those in need while keeping in mind the controversies caused by cannabis? Rasa Korsakaitė (LV), Vojtěch Donát (CZ) Why does it matter? “Cohen is 71 years old, with a long, grey ponytail and a beard. He recommends CBD for age-related diseases, such as Parkinson’s, dementia, osteoarthritis, and chronic inflammation. “Cannabidiol (CBD)1, a cannabis compound that has significant medical benefits, has twenty times the anti-inflammatory power of aspirin and two times the power of steroids,” he said. Since cannabis is federally illegal, none of his claims – or those made by any other clinician – can be supported by double-blind studies on humans, the gold standard in medical science.”2 Cannabis is used for medical purposes as an alternative for other pain therapies that may not be working or have strong side effects. People with chronic pain often experience strong side effects from their pain medications. These can be alleviated with cannabis. However, there are also health hazards that can be linked to the excessive use of drugs. Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (caused by excessive marijuana use) can cause vomiting and pain. Although it is scientifically proven that you cannot fatally overdose on marijuana, it does not mean that there are no consequences.
What is the problem? Member States cannot seem to agree on a policy when it comes to legislation regarding marijuana. All Member States treat possession of cannabis for personal use as an offence; and more than a third of them does not include a prison sentence as a penalty for minor offences. For psychoactive drugs like cannabis to be legalised, rigorous criteria for its approval as a safe and effective medicine need to be fulfilled, along with a meticulous cost-benefit analysis to weigh its therapeutic potential and its possible detrimental effects to individuals and to society. 1 2
“New EU regulation of cannabidiol (CBD)” “How seniors joined the cannabis craze”, Sara Davidson
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The movement to revive cannabis as an authorised medicine for alleviating pain, seizure disorders, enhancing appetite and relieving a myriad of other neurological or metabolic diseases is driven by multiple factors. These include inadequacies of current medications to treat specific symptoms or diseases, along with self-reported benefits derived from cannabis use. Marijuana is only legal for medical use in a couple of Member States, therefore it is still a rather delicate topic. Further studies to better understand the positive and negative effects of cannabis use are required, nevertheless, such studies are complicated mostly due to the social stigma connected to marijuana consumption. Analysts say there are many ways in which marijuana might affect health, however, further research is required. For that reason, it might not come as a surprise that Member States are irresolute about how to approach the taboo caused by cannabis – the research results are sometimes even contradictory, leaving both scientists and governments with much to question.3
Key actors: • •
Member States have the power to regulate their legislation regarding the use of cannabis, and each state can carry out research in the field. Non-EU countries have an impact on the world-wide perception of marijuana – for example Georgia and Canada recently legalised the use of cannabis, and some of the states in the USA have legislation allowing marijuana in medicine. European citizens are directly involved actors, who participate in the use and the distribution of cannabis on the black market, and their votes and opinions on the issue are acknowledged by both their respective governments and on the EU level. The European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) supports the development of a harmonised legislation in the CBD field, to make sure that consumers are protected, to sustain the industry’s current double-digit growth rate, to attract new investors and to boost product development. Their ideal legislation should avoid any restrictions for CBD and clarify and further ensure that extracts and products from industrial hemp are not classified as narcotics in the EU. Media outlets and journalists have the power to increase awareness of the drug. However, media sources might also create a damaging impact by actively presenting fake news or solely focusing on the negative side of marijuana. European Monitoring Centre for Drug and Addiction (EMCDDA) has made research into cannabis legislation across Europe and its impacts on health. GW Pharmaceuticals4 is a British biopharmaceutical company known for its multiple sclerosis treatment product nabiximols (brand name Sativex), which was the first natural cannabis plant derivative to gain market approval in any country. Another cannabis-based product, Epidiolex, for treatment of epilepsy, was officially approved in 2018. European Medicines Agency (EMA) received a permission from the European Commission to research delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol from extracts of the Cannabis sativa L. plant for treatment of glioma.
“What marijuana really does to your body and brain”, Erin Brodwin and Kevin Loria https://www.gwpharm.com/about-us
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Measures in place Under UN Conventions, the cultivation, supply and possession of cannabis should be allowed only for ‘medical and scientific purposes’. Article 28 of the 1961 Convention describes a system of controls required shoulda country decide to permit the cultivation of cannabis that is not for industrial or horticultural purposes, while the 1971 Convention covers the topic of THC. In order to deter their citizens from its use, most countries make the possession of the drug punishable by imprisonment. Recently, several Member States have reduced their penalties for cannabis users, and some have permitted the supplying of the drug. However, due to conflicting and often contradicting claims and research results concerning the issue, policy discussions are often hindered already in their beginnings. There is little to no proof without evidence otherwise able to support one side of the issue unanimously and consequently point in one direction in the question of possible benefits of decriminalisation over legalisation, enabling rather medical or recreational use – and absolutely no grounds to ensure the policy’s success. There is no harmonised EU legislation on cannabis use. The criminal or administrative response to drug use offences is the responsibility of Member States exclusively. According to Article 168 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), ‘The Union shall complement the Member States’ action in reducing drugs-related health damage, including information and prevention.’ Capsules, cannabis extract in the form of mouth spray and dried cannabis flowers for vaporising or teas are the main authorised medicines in the EU, according to a 2017 report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). At the same time, no country authorises smoking of cannabis for medical purposes, given the risks smoking poses to health, especially in combination with tobacco. A medical product marketed in a number of European countries under the brand name ‘Sativex’ contains approximately equal quantities of THC and CBD5 from two cannabis extracts. This product has been authorised in 17 Member States6 and Norway for treatment of muscle spasticity caused by multiple sclerosis. In some of these countries, national health insurance systems will reimburse the costs under certain conditions, such as prior approval or prescription by specialists. Some other substances derived from cannabis seem to be in the pipeline. On 29 December, the British company GW Pharmaceuticals presented a request to the EMA to be allowed to sell a cannabidiol-based medicine alleviating childhood epilepsy.7
CBD - cannabidiol, THC - tetrahydrocannabinol Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom. 7 “Cannabis legislation in Europe”, EMCDDA, 9 5 6
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Field of maneuver: possible actions & solutions One possibility for the European Parliament is to wait for upcoming research about cannabis in medicine and its long-term impact on health. Meanwhile, the Member States could make their own legislation. However, legislation concerning the drug is currently a controversial topic. The European Parliament can suggest money investments for companies developing alternative medications for the drugs with major side-effects. Another way of addressing this issue could be to enable just some marijuana products to be sold under prescription. They might be prescribed only in necessary cases or they could be limited according to the amount of THC they hold. Another approach, which was established in the UK this summer, is to allow all marijuana products to be sold under prescription. The patients would be able to get cannabis medication in case of need. It would also prevent issues connected with abusing the drug. A more benevolent way is to allow some products to be available for general public. The natural fatty acids and antioxidants in hemp seed oil make cannabis-based skincare products a good choice for people with dry skin and eczema. They contain just a small amount of THC. Other products, those with a higher amount of THC, would be available under prescription. Comprehensive legalisation of the use of cannabis would be a bit extreme, however it is a possible solution. Lastly, it is also a possibility to suggest making marijuana completely illegal. The possible solutions are many, although each of them has its advantages and drawbacks that must be examined carefully.
Key questions • • •
What negative impacts could cannabis legalisation bring? What positive impacts could cannabis legalisation bring? How to best help those who would benefit from marijuana in medicine while limiting the possible health hazards?
Links for further research • • • • •
Cannabis legislation in Europe Cannabis policy models in Europe EU publications of cannabis Medical cannabis makes small steps in EU The difference between CBD and THC
Keywords for googling Cannabis legalisation, Cannabis in medicine, Cannabis in EU
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COMMITTEE ON LEGAL AFFAIRS With the European Parliament election coming up in May 2019 and the Cambridge Analytica scandal of employing data mining to influence public opinion still fresh in everyone’s minds, what measures should the EU take in order to prevent such practices from taking place in future elections? Adam Palivec (CZ), Klára Vrlíková (CZ) Why does it matter? Hacks, leaks, fake news, and misuse of personal data. Nowadays, the digital space has become a place for advertising. With the rise of social networks and their sophisticated tools for targeting, online advertising has become one of the easiest ways to reach desired audience. With that being said, it is no surprise that political parties also want to take the opportunity to address their potential electorate. With the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal prior to US presidential election, it is not clear whether users’ data is being treated and stored the way it should be. Just by breaching 300,000 accounts, data of approximately 87 million1 Facebook users had been harvested and afterwards used to unethically influence public opinion. This raises a substantial question: Can consumers sleep tight, knowing that their personal data is being handled the right way and not being handed over to third parties? The Oxford Internet Institute, part of the University of Oxford, published a report this year that found evidence of formally organised public opinion manipulation through social media in 48 countries, up from 28 in the previous year.2 With the European Parliament election in May 2019 slowly approaching, it is crucial to ensure that the democratic process will not be threatened and will not be vulnerable to such practices. It is important to emphasise that with the average voter turnout from 2014 of 43.09% across the Member States, and only 18.2% in the Czech Republic,3 influencing even a small electorate can play an enormous role and directly affect the results of the election Věra Jourová, European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality said: “One thing is clear: the upcoming elections will not be business as usual and we cannot treat them as if they were.”4
1 “Facebook says Cambridge Analytica may have gained 37m more users’ data”, Olivia Solon, The Guardian 2 European elections ‚face growing threat of manipulation, Daniel Boffey, The Guardian 3 European Parliament elections turnout 4 European elections ‚face growing threat of manipulation’, Daniel Boffey, The Guardian
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What is the problem? The so-called tech giants such as Facebook and Instagram are predominantly part of the private sector. Even though their services are free of charge, the above-mentioned social networks generate significant revenues from advertising that is officially carried out anonymously with the use of our personal data, such as age, interests, or location. Such targeting can therefore be based on a consumer’s demographic, geographic and behavioural data. It is important to note that voter targeting is not illegal and is a common practice in the EU. Nonetheless, it can be dangerous and poses a severe threat to democracy.5 It would be easy to label profiling and targeting as the culprits, however the problem is actually rooted in illegal use of personal data. By illegal use we usually mean use without explicit approval of the users. Legislators should strive to make sure that any and all personal information collected for third parties has been legally obtained with explicit consent of users. Intransparency is the main problem when it comes to personal data processing. Even though most of tech giants claim to be up to date and GDPR-compliant, an analysis of policies from 14 of the largest internet companies shows that they use unclear language and provide insufficient information for users to understand what they are agreeing to. 6 The Cambridge Analytica scandal is just one of the examples of how widespread consequences the misuse of personal data can have. Some experts say that “this might only be the tip of an iceberg”.7 Cambridge Analytica was a British consulting firm providing data-driven marketing, using data mining and analysis. Essentially, companies like Cambridge Analytica do two things: profile individuals, and use these profiles to personalise political messaging. However, a whistleblower and ex-employee Christopher Wylie said: “It is incorrect to call Cambridge Analytica a purely sort of data science or algorithm company. Its is a full service propaganda machine.”8 Back in 2016, Cambridge Analytica acquired personal data of approximately 87 million users via the app “thisisyordigitallife” developed by Aleksandr Kogan – a Cambridge University researcher. The app prompted users to answer personality-related questions. It also gathered data from all Facebook friends of the respective person who granted access to the app. Millions of people’s data were harvested without their permission and knowledge. This data was later on allegedly used in the US by the Republican candidate Ted Cruz to gain an advantage over his political rivals9 with the use of an uncommon method, combining already commonly used micro-targeting alongside with psychometrics10. This happened once again ahead of the US presidential elections, when Donald Trump also teamed up with Cambridge Analytica.
5 Cambridge Analytica Explained: Data and Elections, Medium.com 6 Privacy policies of tech giants ‚still not GDPR-compliant’, Alex Hern, The Guardian 7 “Cambridge Analytica is just the tip of the iceberg”: Why the privacy crisis is bigger than facebook, Maya Kosoff,
Vanityfair 8 ‘I made Steve Bannon’s psychological warfare tool’: meet the data war whistleblower, Carole Cadwalladr, The Guardian 9 Ted Cruz using firm that harvested data on millions of unwitting Facebook users, Harry Davies, The Guardian 10 Psychometric Profiling: Persuasion by Personality in Elections, Our Data Selves
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Key actors •
Tech companies also called “tech giants” such as Google, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are the biggest stakeholders as they store and handle consumers’ personal data. It is in their best interest to secure their systems and prevent any potential leaks. EU Citizens are the main consumers of digital services. They grant data access to the above mentioned “tech giants” and their third-party apps in exchange for convenience. The European Commission is the executive branch of the EU. Since consumer protection, justice and security are shared competences11, the Commission can propose binding law to tackle the issue. National governments are responsible for implementing EU policies. Moreover, national governments may as well act on their own and thus propose binding legislation and regulate the market. BEUC (The European Consumer Organisation) is an NGO that represents 43 independent consumer associations from 31 European countries. NGOs with outreach like this can significantly contribute to policy making.
Measures in place The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a regulation that aims to protect EU citizens from digital threats such as misuse of personal data. This regulation also aspires to empower consumers with more control over their data by requiring freely given, specific and unambiguous consent to manipulate and use the data in a specific way. A consumer is also free to withdraw consent at any time. GDPR also introduces a measure called “the right to be forgotten” which enables consumers to request deletion of their personal data. If something similar to this regulation was in place in the US before the presidential election, it may have easily alleviated the amount of affected users and consequences. As a response, the US adopted new legislation to prevent any future potential misuse of personal data. California state legislature – AB 375 also known as the California Consumer Privacy Act, which is, without a doubt, the strictest privacy bill in the US history, provides new rights for consumers that are in many ways very similar to those declared inside the EU. One of the state’s requirements on companies with headquarters in California (including tech giants like Facebook) connected with AB 375 is obtaining an explicit consent from every user before sharing their data with third parties. Breach notification laws are laws that require an entity that has been subject to a data breach to notify their customers and other parties about the breach. In the EU, there is a time limit of 72 hours in which the notifications need to be delivered. Those are in place both in the EU as a part of GDPR (article 33) and the US, implemented separately in each state. Facebook adopted several measures to prevent any future thefts and misuse of personal data. Some of the initiatives include reviewing all apps that have had access to large amounts of data on its platform and apps with suspicious activity, turning off an app’s access to users’ data if the person hasn’t 11
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FAQ on the EU competences and the European Commission powers, ec.europa.eu
used the app in the last three months, changing Facebook Login data so apps can only see a user’s name, profile photo and email address unless the app goes through a further review process and increasing bug bounty program for people to report and get rewarded if they find instances of app developers incorrectly using people’s data.12 The European Commission is currently drafting new legislation that would prevent scenarios à la Cambridge Analytica from happening. The Commission wants the Member States to work together to impose rules and regulations governing offline campaigning13 to be applied to the digital world. The Commission is also urging national governments to establish a pan-European network to monitor electoral digital campaigning, with increased focus on on social media.
12 The six ways Facebook plans to prevent another Cambridge Analytica incident, Michelle Castillo, CNBC 13 Offline campaigning is the conventional way of influencing potential electorate by means such as billbo-
ards, posters, contact campaign, mailing etc.
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Key questions • • • •
Is GDPR sufficient enough to tackle the issue? If not, what are the next steps to take? Is there enough supervision over “tech giants” from data protection authorities? Should we trust those companies or should we supervise them more? Do consumers also have their share of blame? Should consumers be more thoughtful and careful? To what extent are consumers willing to give up their personal data for their convenience?
Links for further research • • •
This article will give you more insight into the Cambridge Analytica scandal, explaining the background and context (watch the video) Chronological timeline of events regarding Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal Why are the upcoming European elections facing the threat of manipulation?
How could GDPR have prevented the Facebook-CA data breach?
Keywords for googling Cambridge Analytica scandal, EP elections 2019 manipulation, Ted Cruz campaign, US presidential elections manipulation, microtargeting, fake news
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COMMITTEE ON INTERNAL MARKET AND CONSUMER PROTECTION Single market, double standards: cases of food producers using varying quality of ingredients dependingx on the country of destination have been catching the spotlight of consumers, media, and decision-makers across the Union. How can the EU ensure that citizens of all Member States have access to food products maintaining the same standards of production? Michaela Králová (CZ) Why does it matter? The free movement of goods has led to achieving the European Union’s goal of establishing a stable European Single Market. However, in numerous cases researchers have pointed out that the quality of certain goods, especially food products, drastically varies within the EU. This in turn has led to a major dissatisfaction of consumers across the continent, with many questioning the integrity of the Single Market,1 as it should unite, integrate and optimise the means of production and movement of goods across markets. In addition, consumers are calling for a more robust regulation of the market in order to revive the public’s trust towards it. The concerns about varying product quality were first raised in 2011 when the Slovak Association of Consumers tested and compared food products bought in 8 different Member States (including the Czech Republic) and found major differences in the taste and quality of five out of the six tested products.2 Little effort was made to combat this issue as at the end of 2016, the Slovakian Ministry of Agriculture had again conducted research comparing the quality of ingredients in locally sold products to identical ones sold in Austria. The results concluded that the majority of the products sold in Slovakia had a lower content of meat, more preservatives and artificial sweeteners, and an overall lower net weight.3 The most significant differences in the quality of goods have been observed in central and eastern European states in comparison to their western European counterparts. In turn, the citizens of these countries have complained about unfair treatment within the EU, feeling as if their rights as consumers have been violated by being offered goods of inferior quality. These concerns were later echoed by the President of the European
1 2 3
“Annual Report 2011”, BEUC, 4 “Food products: ‘Lower quality’ in Eastern Europe?”, EURACTIV “Some food really is better in Austria, study finds”, Radka Minarechová for The Slovak Spectator
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Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker in one of his speeches in 2017,4 with him saying: “In a Union of equals, there can be no second-class customers.” These words of acknowledgment of the inadmissible situation sparked public dialogue across the EU and spurred on the outcry for change.
What is the problem? With the general public perception of the EU quite divided, it is crucial for all Member States to be treated as equals, especially when the debate is about the quality of food products. Concerns coming from Member States were mainly voiced when goods that were marketed, packaged and branded the exact same way in several Member States had vastly different ingredients, which inherently breached the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive published in 2005.5 The companies that knowingly alter the means of production to change the quality of certain food products do so as a way to increase profits, whilst arguing that they adjust the goods according to the taste of consumers in different countries. Furthermore, companies note that they have more modern technology for making food products in western Europe, which allows them to meet higher parameters of quality only in that area of the EU.6 Moreover, some Member States may become hesitant to punish or penalise companies, fearing that their markets would become less welcoming for new companies. The European Union having exclusive competences over the Customs Union means it has full control over the legislation impacting the free movement of goods in the Single Market in all Member States. This has allowed the European Commission to take swift strides in proposing policies which clarify and build upon the already existing legislation.
Key actors •
4 5 6 7
The European Union plays a major role in what the legislation about the quality of food products looks like and in order to ensure fair treatment of all its citizens, it is in the EU’s best interest to put consumers first. The European Commission has already proposed a New Deal for consumers, crafted by Věra Jourová, the Czech Commissioner on Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, which directly impacts the way dual quality products are currently dealt with in the Union. As of right now, the European Parliament and European Council have not come to a co-decision to implement the proposal, although during the plenary session of the European Parliament in the beginning of September, the text was adopted by the MEPs.7 Member States are key actors as they implement and enforce the legislation published by the European Union, in order to ensure that their citizens receive fair and equal treatment. On the other hand, Member States also have to keep in mind that if they employ strict punishments of companies, their markets may become less sought-after.
“ ‘No second-class consumers’: MEPs discuss dual food quality”, European Parliament “Press release on the dual quality of food products”, European Commission “Some food really is better in Austria, study finds”, Radka Minarechová for The Slovak Spectator “Consumer product quality: Parliament takes aim at dual standards”, European Parliament
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Companies have little incentive to change their standards of production unless bound to do so by law. Inese Vaidere, a member of the European Parliament voiced that the “name-and-shame”8 method is a possible solution to tackling consumers’ unawareness of the issue.9 The public plays a crucial role in making changes across the EU. No citizen wants to be “second-class” and the general population’s voice is loud enough to be heard by their policy-makers as well as by companies that offer dual quality products. The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) and other NGOs, like the aforementioned Slovak Association of Consumers, have been the leading forces in raising the public’s awareness and conducted the first research that proved the existence of the whole issue.
Measures in place The Joint Research Centre received €1 million in funding from the European Commission to develop a coherent methodology for testing and comparing various food products, in order to get relevant and comparable information.10 The main long-term aim of the Joint Research Centre is to create a common testing protocol which could assist Member States in identifying illegitimate practices and the first results of these tests will be published at the end of 2018. The European Commission has taken action in the form of publishing guidance lists that explain relevant EU laws about consumer protection, helping national governments assess if companies may be breaching consumer laws in their countries. Moreover, the European Commission has set aside €1 million to assist Member States in financing studies or action enforcement. Among other measures, the most important to highlight may be the proposal to amend the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive under the New Deal for Consumers, adopted in April of 2018.11 Examples of these amendments are harsher penalties for companies, more cross-border cooperation between the Member States and clarification of some phrasing within the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive12.
“Naming-and-shaming” is a tactic some use to spread the names of companies or corporations that have been proven to use illegitimate practices exploiting grey zones in legislation. 9 “MEPs: Dual-quality products in single EU Market ‘unacceptable’ “, Joseph James Whitworth for the Food Navigator 10 “Press release on the dual quality of food” European Commission 11 “Press release on the dual quality of food products”, European Commission 12 “Press release on A New Deal for Consumers”, European Commission 8
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Field of maneuver: possible actions & solutions In the past two years, the European Commission has made many efforts to ensure that all products sold within the EU are of equal quality; the question remains whether the current actions will be enough to deter companies from continuing their unfair practices. It is in both the EU’s and companies’ best interests to maintain a trustworthy relationship with the consumers, therefore possible further steps may involve raising public awareness on how the issue is currently being solved, or engaging more of the general population in becoming the “guard-dogs” of the “misbehaving” companies. The European Parliament also invited the credible manufacturers to create an “EU-guarantee logo”, which would be displayed on the packaging, allowing the consumers to pick products sold by companies deemed to be trustworthy. 14 Sparking more interest among people may even support the “name-and-shame” method some researchers have proposed as a possible way of ending the problem of dual quality products. If the public is aware of what companies are employing unfair business practices, it would be possible for people to boycott their products. As of right now, it is important to wait to see what the conclusions coming from the Joint Research Centre will be. Depending on how relevant the issue still is by the end of 2018, further steps may be taken to penalise companies in even stricter ways or come up with new techniques of ending the dual quality of food products.
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“Commission Notice on EU food and consumer law”, European Commission “Consumer product quality: Parliament takes aim at dual standards”, European Parliament
Key questions • • • • •
What should the clarification of the phrase “significant difference in the quality of products” be? How different is different enough to be considered unfair? Is there any relevant justification for having dual quality products in the Single Market? How can the EU ensure that no company gets unfairly punished? Bearing in mind the fact that localisation of products is a business practice proven to be successful, should the unification even be enforced? What punishments should the companies that do not stop selling dual quality products face? With concerns raised that the dual quality of goods may extend to non-food products, such as cosmetics or laundry detergent, what steps should the EU take to ensure that the legislation extends to all products distributed within the Single Market?
Links for further research • • • •
European Parliament’s video on dual quality of food products Video of the IMCO Committee discussing ways of ending dual quality of products Article on the testing of food products across the EU Press release of European Commission’s work on stopping dual quality products
Keywords for googling Consumer rights, consumer protection, dual quality food products, New Deal for Consumers, Unfair Commercial Policy, food apartheid
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COMMITTEE ON SECURITY AND DEFENCE I With severe wildfires and natural catastrophes becoming more frequent across Europe, international cooperation in tackling them grows ever more important. Taking into account experiences such as the 2018 Swedish and Greek wildfires, how can the EU further improve its Civil Protection Mechanism and other measures in order to prepare for catastrophic events in the future? Toms Kristiāns Ozoliņš (LV) Why does it matter? Natural and man-made disasters know no borders and can occur at any moment. In the past, such disasters as flooding, extreme weather, forest fires, industrial accidents, terrorism, cybercrime and others have affected the lives of European citizens, EU’s economy and the environment. Then again, the EU faces new and emerging disaster risks. Those include a sudden influx of refugees and migrants, climate and environment-induced migration, space weather hazards, biodiversity loss, as well as (re-)emerging threat of infections.1 They are becoming increasingly extreme and complex, intensified by the impacts of climate change, and are by nature not bound by national borders. Therefore, it is important to support the improvement of European capacities to assess any risk due to their unexpected nature (f.e. disasters breaking out where they are least expected to be2), as the first step towards the development of disaster prevention and emergency plans, while allowing European countries to assess their levels of preparedness and capabilities to manage disasters. Prevention of such disasters – avoiding duplication of relief efforts and ensuring that assistance meets the real needs of the affected region, necessitates a well-coordinated response at the European level. Ever since the European Civil Protection was formally established as a field of cooperation within the European Communities in 1985, it has been considerably extended, and legislation has been enacted to create new instruments, including the EU Civil Protection Mechanism (EUCPM) via which participating countries step in and provide their assistance to a country that can not deal with a certain disaster alone. Since its establishment in 2001, the Mechanism has been activated more than 300 times to support people in some of the most devastating disasters in Europe and around the world, including the earthquake in Haiti (2010), the Ebola outbreak (2014), the conflict in Ukraine (2014), the earthquake in Nepal (2015), the refugee crisis, and floods and forest fires in Europe. 1 2
“Overview of Natural and Man-made Disaster Risks the European Union may face”, European Commission “The Swedish town on the frontline of the Arctic wildfires”, The Guardian
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What is the problem? While the EU Civil Protection Mechanism has proven to be useful with the provision of supplementary resources, more efficient response to an emergency situations and ease of the flow of information, some weaknesses and gaps have been identified at the conceptual and operational levels of it.3 Principle of Sovereignty. The operations of Member States’ teams in the framework of the Community Civil Protection Modules4 during an EU Civil Protection mission are managed entirely by the Member States. All offers of assistance are made entirely on a voluntary basis – it is up to each Member State to decide whether or not to offer assistance in response to a request. The Mechanism’s involvement is in practice limited to facilitating the coordination at the EU level of all of the Member States’ operations. Problem of capacity.5 At present, in case of an emergency, pooling of resources through the Mechanism is done only in need for the emergency situation. Each participating state decides on a case-by-case and voluntary basis whether or not it is able to provide the civil protection resources requested. This system means that the speed with which European assistance can be deployed depends on the national decision-making processes. Limited degree of availability.6 The resources registered by the participating states under the Mechanism, such as Civil Protection Modules4, are assumed to have a high degree of preparedness and a very limited time lag between request for assistance and actual deployment. However, as these resources are the main component of the EU rapid response capability and are designed for providing the bulk of assistance through the Mechanism, their limited availability would have a major impact on the possibility to deploy and the overall effectiveness of EU assistance in major disasters. Among the reasons for limited availability are aspects such as access to transport solutions, financing of transport and deployment, national demand for the resource in question, or the political profile of the disaster, etc. The problem of limited availability of existing resources has often been an issue since the beginning of Mechanism operations. In a number of cases, the EU could have responded with a significant contribution that was, however, reduced due to a lack of transport capabilities. Question of participation. In many emergencies, the response provided through the Mechanism relies on the same small group of participating states. This raises issues regarding the sustainability of the system and the potential need to ensure a better sharing of burden that would enable more participating states to provide assistance during major and medium size emergencies. Problems in the field. On the operational level, the adequacy and accuracy of rapid appraisal/assessment of both impacts and needs in order to send the right types and quantities of assistance, issues concerning the logistics of assistance and the coordination of assistance from participating states and from “Risk Analysis: Cooperation in Civil Protection”, Crisis and Risk Network, Center for Security Studies, ETH Zürich, Page 9 4 Civil Protection Modules are emergency response teams consisting of trained personnel equipment necessary for them that handle emergencies within EU Civil Protection Mechanism. 5 “For a European civil protection force: Europe aid”, Michel Barnier, Page 43 6 “Strengthening the EU capacity to respond to disasters: Identification of the gaps in the capacity of the Community Civil Protection Mechanism to provide assistance in major disasters and options to fill the gaps – A scenario-based approach”, ECORYS Nederland BV, Page 145 3
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other countries and institutions on the ground in the disaster area, as well as a combination of the above, have proven to be the crucial factors that may lead to complications in deployment.
Key actors •
All EU Member States, and Iceland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia, and Turkey are states participating in the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism. The European Commission manages the EU Civil Protection Mechanism (EUCPM). The “rescEU”7 proposal by the EC, with the objective to create a more systematic European response to disasters, is currently under negotiation. The Commission wants to create a reserve of resources managed by the EU to complement the voluntary system which currently exists. The proposal offers higher financial incentives to encourage participating states to commit further resources to this new reserve. There will also be the establishment of a Civil Protection Knowledge Network which will facilitate training and joint exercises. The Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC)8, was set up to support a coordinated and quicker response to disasters both inside and outside Europe using resources from the countries participating in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. The ERCC oversees the Common Emergency Communication and Information System (CECIS) – a web-based alert and notification application enabling a real-time exchange of information between participating states and the ERCC, which provides emergency communications and monitoring tools9 for the Mechanism.10
Measures in place In order to foster cooperation among national civil protection authorities and enable coordinated assistance from the participating states to victims of natural and man-made disasters in Europe and elsewhere, the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism (EUCPM) was established in 2001. It enables a more rapid and effective response to emergencies by coordinating and financially supporting the delivery of civil protection teams and assets to the affected country and population. The European Emergency Response Capacity (EERC) was established to advance European cooperation in civil protection and enable a faster, better-coordinated and more effective European response to natural and man-made disasters. The EERC, commonly referred to as the “voluntary pool”11, currently brings together resources from 23 participating states, ready for when the next disaster strikes. These resources can be rescue or medical teams, experts, specialised equipment or transportation. Whenever a disaster strikes and a request for assistance via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism is “rescEU: European Commission proposes to strengthen EU disaster management: Questions and Answers”, European Commission 8 “Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC)”, European Commission 9 “Monitoring tools”, European Commission 10 “EU Civil Protection Mechanism”, European Commission 11 “Voluntary pool - Offered capacities”, European Commission 7
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received, assistance is drawn from this pool. The EU Civil Protection Mechanism runs an active and comprehensive training programme12, offering experts from all over Europe a deeper knowledge of the requirements of European civil protection missions. The training helps experts improve their coordination and assessment skills in disaster response. The programme offers a wide range of courses from basic training to high-level sessions for future mission leaders. Special courses are also available aiming to prepare for specific aspects of missions such as security training or assessments.
Field of maneuver: possible actions & solutions In November 2017, the European Commission proposed to strengthen the collective European response to disasters, especially when several disasters hit at the same time. The Commission proposes two complementary strands of action: 1. A stronger collective response at the European level via the development of a reserve capacity “rescEU” that will complement national capacities; 2. Stepping up disaster prevention and preparedness. In addition, streamlined procedures allow for an even faster response and higher financial support will allow alleviating the economic consequences of an emergency. In its broad management system, the EUCPM includes a number of areas that could be improved further, including: possible time savings during the early phases of disaster response, CECIS, on-the-ground coordination and synergies between states, the Commission’s and European Centre’s for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) financial and administrative arrangements for the large-scale deployment of epidemiologists through the EUCPM, and EUCPM performance reporting.13 In its Special Report, the European Court of Auditors has provided multiple recommendations for the EC to improve these fields: 1. Identify ways to gain additional time during the pre-alert phase and during the selection and deployment of EUCP teams; 2. Develop CECIS’s features to improve the overview of assistance provided and requested, to allow for a better follow-up of priorities and to enhance user-friendliness; 3. Strengthen on-the-ground coordination through improving the EUCP teams’ reporting, exploiting the presence of ECHO Field Network experts and further involving EU delegations; 4. Assess, together with the ECDC, potential changes needed to strengthen arrangements for the deployment of ECDC experts outside the Union through the EUCPM; 5. Improve reporting by automating the production of statistics and indicators, thereby strengthening accountability.
“Experts training and exchange”, European Commission “Special Report. Union Civil Protection Mechanism: the coordination of responses to disasters outside the EU has been broadly effective”, European Court of Auditors 12 13
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Key questions • • • •
What have been the most recent disasters when the EU Civil Protection Mechanism was activated and how successfully were they combatted through the use of the Mechanism? What can be done to address disasters occuring where they are least expected to be? How does climate contribute to the rise of natural disasters? What are the recommendations that European Court of Auditors suggests in its “Special Report. Union Civil Protection Mechanism: the coordination of responses to disasters outside the EU has been broadly effective”? How can the Mechanism be made more compulsory for participating states, especially ones in disaster-prone regions?
Links for further research •
Factsheet on EU Civil Protection by European Commission
• • • •
“rescEU: a new European system to tackle natural disasters” by European Commission Factsheet on European Emergency Response Capacity Video on “EU Civil Protection: Coordination in Action” “Too shy to ask about Civil Protection?”, Amy Duong, online editor, with contributions from Tim Gillmair, European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations “Overview of Natural and Man-made Disaster Risks the European Union may face” by European Commission, Page 3, Page 70 “EU conducts its biggest Civil Protection Mechanism exercise” by European Commission Video “EU Civil Protection Mechanism to become mandatory” by EPP Group
• • •
Keywords for googling EU Civil Protection, EUCPM, 2018 Swedish wildfires, 2018 Greek wildfires, rescEU.
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COMMITTEE ON SECURITY AND DEFENCE II Across the Mediterranean: with the death toll of those attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea with the purpose of immigrating to EU countries outrageously high, what measures can the EU take to prevent the loss of lives while maintaining security of its borders? Julia Collado Serrano (ES), Noémie Pralat (CH) Why does it matter? Five years have passed since the shipwreck near Lampedusa on 3 October 2013 and the aftermath of this tragedy, as that of following wreckages, is alarming. Indeed, since the beginning of 2017, over 2,700 people are believed to have died or gone missing while crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe.1
This map shows where the dangerous trip of those who did not cross stopped between 2005 and 2015.2 One characteristic of modern warfare is that it has led to large diasporas and population movements. As a direct consequence of unstable situations in countries undergoing the political turmoil, internal stability has deteriorated, pushing numerous citizens to try to reach Europe at all cost. Those immigrating are either fleeing violent regimes, are economic or climatic migrants. As a result of these important displacements of population, European countries find themselves in the middle of a refugee crisis that has been ongoing since 2015. 1 2
“Those who did not cross”. Levi Westerfeld, 20.11.2017.
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They have to manage the migration influx, deploying measures to integrate or turn away asylum seekers. This refugee crisis has launched an important rise in the dissatisfaction in European civil societies. The rise in terrorist attacks in Europe has also led to a wave of xenophobic actions against refugees.3 Whilst Germany has adopted a welcoming approach towards migration, other countries such as the Visegrad Group4 have pursued a less favourable strategy. However, since conflicts generating refugee waves do not seem to come to an end, the European Union would benefit from a more organised and unified agenda towards immigration. What is more, succeeding in integration can have great economic value to asylum countries. Improving prospects for refugees 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 occidental societies5.
What is the problem? Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to seek asylum in other countries in cases of persecution. The need for means of transportation between North Africa and the Middle East and Europe has generated a whole market of illegal activities and cross-border crime, including migrant smuggling, trafficking and abuse. Almost 90% of refugees and migrants have paid organised criminals and people smugglers to get them across borders – they are known as irregular migrants (they have not entered the EU by legal means). What is more, transit-countries such as Libya are not stable politically. Obviously, cooperation with North African government forces is more difficult and not always precisely regulated; thus, there is a clear lack of legal means to enter the EU. Previously non-governmental organisations had been operating ships and conducting rescue operations. However, they have recently been having rough times since less and less European governments exhibit a supportive mindset towards their operations. Last June, only the Aquarius remained patrolling the Mediterranean Sea, deprived from a place to moor and be allowed to set free the migrants that had found asylum on its open-air deck. For those who managed to cross to the EU, the following issue is asylum-shopping, where an asylum seeker applies for asylum in more than one EU state or chooses one EU state in preference to others on the basis of a perceived higher standard of reception conditions or social security assistance. However, the European Union and the Schengen Area have come up with legal tools to manage the migration influx: the Dublin Regulation states that asylum-seekers have to register in the first European country they arrive in. What is more, border controls have been reintroduced in the Schengen Area. These two measures have had an important impact, both on the number of refugees applying for asylum – decreased in recent years – and also on policies in countries with a direct access to the Mediterranean Sea (Italy, Greece, Spain, France, Malta), which have implemented stricter legislation, being confronted with large numbers of immigrants. For example, the current Italian government is very much opposed to NGOs 3 https://www.cnbc.com/2016/07/12/refugee-crisis-fuels-european-fears-over-terrorism-crime-and-jobs.html 4 The Visegrad group, or V4 is an alliance between Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. 5 https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/employment-and-growth/a-road-map-for-integrating-europes-refugees
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operating humanitarian rescue operations at sea and it has refused moorage to the Aquarius.6 On an internal scale, national disparities in the application of the Dublin Regulation has led to secondary movements of asylum-seekers. In order to escape the thorough identity control means or long administrative procedures, they tend to aim at specific European countries particularly known for their more welcoming approach. This puts disproportionate pressure on the latter.
Key actors •
Migrants: asylum seekers and refugees. There is a difference between the terms asylum seeker and refugee. A refugee is someone fleeing armed conflict or persecution in their home country that has been recognised as such, whereas an asylum seeker is someone who claims they are a refugee but whose status has not yet been confirmed by the relevant authorities.7 In 2015, most migrants traveling to Europe were Syrian, Afghan, Iraqi, Kosovar, Albanian, Eritrean, Nigerian, etc.8
European Union and its agencies: it conducts a few operations at sea to eliminate illegal business and smuggling or trafficking of migrants. The position of the European Union is quite difficult to interpret because countries are far from having a homogeneous standpoint on immigration. While some countries easily open their borders to refugees, others are very opposed to immigration. • European Border and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX): an agency of the European Union that promotes, coordinates and develops European border management.9 • The Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs (DG HOME): department of the European Commission responsible for internal security in the EU, managing borders and creation of the common European asylum and migration policies.10 NGOs and associations: under pressure of a part of civil society, NGOs operate ships and conduct rescue operations at sea as well as encourage action to save lives on the Mediterranean Sea. An example is a French NGO “SOS Méditerranée” that operated the Aquarius, or other boats, for example Lifeline, Maersk, Open Arms, Sea Eye, Open Arms. NGOs consider that the aim of the missions operated by EU-led agencies is repression of the migration flow towards its borders rather than saving lives. International organisations (United Nations, International organisation for migration). The UN Security Council has issued many resolutions concerning the situation in the Mediterranean Sea: the latest one encourages the continuation of operations aiming at refraining cross-border crime.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/the-retreat-of-rescue-ships-from-the-mediterranean-isa-sign-of-changing-odds-for-migrants/2018/06/15/099b74f0-6e61-11e8-b4d8-eaf78d4c544c_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.d806c98f6435 7 www.amnesty.org.au/refugee-and-an-asylum-seeker-difference/&sa=D&ust=1540113939076000&usg=AFQjCNFXVya6kyW3QKSj1Lcv-EPXRBrnDw 8 https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34131911 6
9 https://frontex.europa.eu/about-frontex/origin-tasks/ 10 https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/what-we-do_en
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The International Organisation for Migration11 has four main aims: • Assistance for international bodies concerning migration management; • Contribution to a more advanced understanding of migration issues; • Promotion of social and economic improvements that can be generated by migration; • Ensuring human dignity and respectable life conditions for migrants. Transit countries in North-Africa and the Middle-East (Libya, Morocco, Turkey). Those transit countries also have coast guards to jeopardise smuggling missions. But recently, there have been reports about detention of migrants in Libya and many reports have denounced the harsh conditions for migrants in Libya. Turkey, as the crossroads between Asia and Europe hosts one of the largest migrant populations in the entire world. Cross-border criminals. As a result of the lack of safe and legal means of reaching Europe, an entire black market of illegal transit ways to reach Europe border countries has been deployed in the Mediterranean Sea. However, smugglers charge migrants exorbitant amounts of money for providing makeshift boats and services.
Measures in place Frontex’ current operations (Poseidon in Greece, Minerva in Spain, Themis in Italy, border control in the Western Balkans) aim mostly at border surveillance and control of registration and identification process. They also fight cross-border crime by trying to put an end to illegal smuggling operations and sometimes undertake humanitarian tasks. The European Union has also adopted the Hotspot approach12. These first reception facilities aim to better coordinate EU agencies’ and national authorities’ efforts at the external borders of the EU, on initial reception, identification, registration and fingerprinting of asylum-seekers and migrants. Hotspots are a key element of the EU support for Greece and Italy in facing the challenges of the humanitarian and border management crisis. However, majority of the hotspots suffer from overcrowding, and concerns have been raised by stakeholders with regards to camp facilities and living conditions, in particular for vulnerable migrants and asylum-seekers. A study for the LIBE committee of the European Parliament found that these hotspots have not contributed to relieving the pressure on Italy and Greece. Instead, their structural limitations and the increasing number of applications has led to increased stress on the two countries. Therefore, how can the principle be better implemented? In the summer of 2015, EU Member States agreed to relocate 160,000 refugees across the bloc in an effort to ease pressure on countries like Italy and Greece which are the point of entry for large num-
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bers of migrants arriving from Africa and the Middle East.13 However, the Visegrad Group refused to accept the legally binding quota of 11,069. In addition, only 35% of the 98,255 refugees (34,953 from Italy and 63,302 from Greece) had the chance to move into Europe. The following map shows the repartition of refugees by EU country and underlines a gap between their different policies.
Field of maneuver: possible actions & solutions Since the death toll is in part due to the harsh crossing conditions at sea, one potential field of maneuver is ensuring the existence of safe ways of crossing the Mediterranean. Amongst those, there could be partnerships, intellectual or educational programmes, that could justify a movement from one country to another. How to deal with the preoccupation of NGOs who are not allowed to patrol at sea anymore? Is the retreat of humanitarian ships a sign to take into account? Do EU member states have to take more steps in their rescue operations? Death in the Mediterranean is also attributed to the lack of sustainable conditions once in European border countries. Greece, facing an economic crisis, does not have sufficient means to ensure respectable life conditions to asylum seekers. To relieve the congestion in overwhelmed countries such as Greece and Italy, there could be an answer in addressing the question of a more even repartition of refugees throughout European countries. Even though such quotas already exist, how do we ensure that every Member State respects its obligations?
https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/960125/eu-news-hungary-poland-oppose-european-union-refugee-quota-Viktor-Orban-Morawiecki 14â€ƒ Map is retrieved from: https://en.nikkoam.com/articles/2016/05/eu-refugee-crisis-european-weak-points-and-outlook 13â€ƒ
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Simultaneously, a lack of full implementation of current EU regulations has led to uneven asylum conditions and implied the appearance in issues such as asylum shopping. In order to counter secondary movements aiming at escaping through identity control, shouldn’t the European Parliament implement means of harmonising those conditions and end national disparities? This does not mean that fingerprinting or identity controls have to be done; but how to avoid secondary movement without compromising the internal security goal of the European Union?
Key questions • • • •
What measures ought to be taken in order to lower the death toll of the migration crisis in the Mediterranean? Should border controls be reintroduced by countries who deem them necessary for their security? Should the European Union encourage NGOs’ humanitarian operations in the Mediterranean? How to harmonise measures taken within EU Member States without compromising internal security?
Links for further research • • •
European Refugee Crisis and Syrian Crisis explained EU publication on EU asylum, borders and external cooperation on migration UNHCR: 6 steps towards solving the refugee situation in Europe
Keywords for googling European migration crisis, FRONTEX, Aquarius, hotspot approach, border control, asylum shopping
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The Academic Preparation Kit of the Regional Selection Conference of EYP CZ which takes place between 9–11 November 2018 in Litoměřice.
Published on Nov 2, 2018
The Academic Preparation Kit of the Regional Selection Conference of EYP CZ which takes place between 9–11 November 2018 in Litoměřice.