Kuopio 2013 Regional Session of EYP Finland Preparation Kit for Delegates
European Youth Parliament Finland – EYP-Finland ry Uudenmaankatu 15 A 5, 00120 Helsinki http://www.eypfinland.org – firstname.lastname@example.org
European Youth Parliament Finland – EYP-Finland ry Uudenmaankatu 15 A 5, 00120 Helsinki http://www.eypfinland.org – email@example.com
European Union (EU)
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 Member States. The EU was established by the Treaty of Maastricht in 1993 upon the foundations of the European Communities. With over 500 million inhabitants, the EU generated an estimated 21% of the PPP gross world product in 2009.
Dear delegates, It is my honour and great pleasure to be finally adressing you all. In less than two weeks, we will meet in Kuopio, where we will spend three amazing days together. Hence, more welcoming words are due soon. For now, the most important thing is this preparation kit. As preparation is crucial for any EYP session, and as your chairs have worked hard to write these overviews, please read through them carefully. Put this prep kit under your pillow at night, and read it again first thing in the morning. When you close your eyes at night, I want you to see the overview dancing in your thoughts. Please also make sure to check out the links your chairs have provided you with. The more prepared you are, the better the session will be! Hans Maes President Kuopio 2013 ---
European Youth Parliament (EYP) The European Youth Parliament represents a non-partisan and independent educational project which is tailored specifically to the needs of the young European citizen. European Youth Parliament Finland, established in 2011, is the National Committee of the EYP in Finland. The EYP encourages independent thinking and initiative in young people and facilitates the learning of crucial social and professional skills. Since its inauguration, many tens of thousands of young people have taken part in Regional, National and International Sessions, formed friendships and made international contacts across and beyond borders. The EYP has thus made a vital contribution towards uniting Europe. Today the EYP is one of the largest European platforms for political debate, intercultural encounters, political educational work and the exchange of ideas among young people in Europe. The EYP consists of a network of 36 European associations in which thousands of young people are active in a voluntary capacity. The EYP is a programme of the Schwarzkopf Foundation.
The EU has developed a single market through a standardised system of laws which apply in all Member States, and ensures the free movement of people, goods, services, and capital, including the abolition of passport controls within the Schengen area. It enacts legislation in justice and home affairs, and maintains common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries and regional development. Sixteen Member States have adopted a common currency, the euro. With a view to its relations with the wider world, the EU has developed a limited role in foreign and defence policy through the Common Foreign and Security Policy. Permanent diplomatic missions have been established around the world and the EU is represented at the United Nations, the WTO, the G8 and the G-20. The EU operates through a hybrid system of supranationalism and intergovernmentalism. In certain areas, decisions are taken by independent institutions, while in others, they are made through negotiation between Member States. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community formed by six countries in the 1950s. Since then, it has grown in size through enlargement, and in power through the addition of policy areas to its remit. The last amendment to the constitutional basis of the EU came into force in 2009 and was the Lisbon Treaty. The institutions of the European Union The European Council is responsible for defining the general political direction and priorities of the EU. It comprises the heads of state or government of EU Member States, along with its President (currently Herman Van Rompuy from Belgium) and the President of the Commission. The Council of the European Union (commonly referred to as the Council of Ministers) is the institution in the legislature of the EU representing the governments of member states, the other legislative body being the European Parliament. The exact membership depends upon the topic: for example, when discussing agricultural policy the Council is formed by the 27 national ministers whose portfolio includes this policy area. The European Parliament is the directly elected parliamentary institution of the EU. Together with the Council, it forms the bicameral legislative branch of the EU. The Parliament is composed of 736 MEPs. The current president is Martin Schulz from Germany. The European Commission is the executive body of the EU. It is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the Union’s treaties and the general day-to-day running of the Union. The Commission operates as a cabinet government, with 27 Commissioners. The current President is José Manuel Durão Barroso from Portugal. Other important institutions of the EU include the Court of Justice of the European Union and the European Central Bank. The EU also has several agencies and other institutions.
European Youth Parliament Finland – EYP-Finland ry Uudenmaankatu 15 A 5, 00120 Helsinki http://www.eypfinland.org – firstname.lastname@example.org
7. Committee on Regional Development I – REGI I
1. Committee on Constitutional Affairs – AFCO
Chairperson: Anastasia Lvova (EE), Alex Coates (UK)
Chairperson: Saga Eriksson (FI)
Reviewing the Catalan, Scottish and Flemish experience: with breakaway regions sending the EU into legally and politically unmapped territory, what should be the EU’s stance towards secession movements within its borders and the potential of newly emerging sovereign states within EU territory?
The democratic deficit: in the 2009 elections of the European Parliament almost three quarters (71%) of voters aged 18–24 abstained from voting. How best should the EU fix its democratic deficit and restore the enthusiasm of its youth for the European project?
8. Committee on Regional Development II – REGI II
2. Committee on Development – DEVE
Chairperson: Tim Backhaus (FI), Onur Can Ucarer (TR)
Chairpersons: Rebecca Smith (FR), Beatrice Reichel (SE)
Building the periphery: mechanisms such as the Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund play an important role in developing the peripheral areas of Europe, but they are also costly. Keeping in mind that metropolitan areas are the primary motors of growth, how should the EU best support its peripheral areas to suit the needs of their population?
Dead aid? Combined, the European Commission and the EU Member States constitute the single largest donor of development aid, but the effectiveness of development aid is frequently questioned. How should the EU make sure that European efforts secure a better economic and political future for the developing world? 3. Committee on Human Rights – DROI Chairpersons: Laure Steinville (FR), Anna Turunen (FI) With the number of asylum seekers and illegal immigrants steadily increasing in the EU, how should the EU better control its external borders whilst respecting human rights? 4. Committee on Employment and Social Affairs – EMPL Chairpersons: Anna Pusa (FI), Ayda Jodayri Hashemizadeh (FI) The challenge of dramatically high youth unemployment rates: How should European governments best offer opportunities to those ages 16-24 to ensure that the current generation of European youth does not become irreversibly excluded from the labour market? 5. Committee on Industry, Research and Energy – ITRE Chairperson: Anamaria Olaru (RO), Tuulia Karvinen (FI) The post-Fukushima Europe: with the challenge of balancing environmental sustainability, security and the need for cheap energy, what role should nuclear energy play in the EU Member States’ energy strategies? 6. Committee on Security and Defence – SEDE Chairperson: Ruxandra Ioanitescu (RO) In the aftermath of the NSA spying scandal it has become clear that large-scale electronic surveillance is a global phenomenon. How should the EU and its Member States respond to the threat foreign surveillance poses to information security of European organisations and citizens?
1. Committee on Consitutional Affairs – AFCO Chairperson: Saga Eriksson (FI) The democratic deficit: in the 2009 elections of the European Parliament almost three quarters (71%) of voters aged 18–24 abstained from voting. How best should the EU fix its democratic deficit and restore the enthusiasm of its youth for the European project?
address this issue? All in all it is evident that young people use more diverse means then older generations in order to participate politically. It is clear that a diverse and innovative response is needed to cater to the needs of a diverse and technological generation. Otherwise we may be stuck in a vicious cycle where the youth do not vote and thus their issues are not tackled leading to even less interest in voting. It is clear that there needs to be more effort from politicians to try to contact and engage with young people to invoke interest in EU affairs. Keywords
Democratic deficit, Lisbon Treaty, European Parliament, youth unemployment, social exclusion, electronic voting
When referring to a democratic deficit in the EU this often means a perceived lack of accountability and legitimacy of EU institutions compared to those of national governments in the EU. The EU as a whole with its complicated structure and various institutions and bodies is seen as inaccessible to citizens. They lack an understanding of the EU political system and thus feel detached from it and this leads to less interest in EU elections. In addition citizens do not feel adequately represented or heard in decision-making, and perceive the EU to be too large to be held accountable. Citizens feel they do not have power over decisions, and further yet that there is nothing they can do to change this. It must also be noted that the rise of eurosceptical parties all over the continent may be due to the problem of democratic deficit, as well as continuing to perpetuate it, as when these parties become more noticed and vocal they will convince more people to see the EU as ineffective and not to vote.
Links for further research
The European democratic deficit is often called a structural deficit meaning the problem is not only in the way the EU institutions act, but the way they are structured that leads to a democratic deficit, and as long as it is stuck in a state that is neither purely an intergovernmental organisation or a federal state these problems will continue. However with the introduction of the Lisbon treaty some measures have been taken in order to try to address the feeling of powerlessness and apathy prevalent in citizens. In essence the two main actors in the European Union are the European Commission and European Parliament. The European Commission consists of one commissioner for each Member State who is appointed rather than elected. The Commission together has control over much of the day-to-day affairs of the EU, as well as the budget. They also propose new legislation for the EU that is then voted on in the European Parliament. The European Parliament is the only body of the EU that is directly elected by citizens. Each country has a certain amount of seats depending on the population of the country, this means more populous countries have more seats. Elections are held every 5 years. The European Parliament cannot propose legislation but it can amend it and reject or pass it in a vote. The main idea of the Lisbon Treaty was to give more power to the European Parliament and thus increase the direct affect and representation of citizens on EU affairs. It also introduced a citizen’s initiative in the EU meaning citizens and residents in the EU can directly petition the European Parliament on issues that affect them. The Lisbon Treaty also enhanced the role of national parliaments in EU legislation as well as making meeting of the Council public for all citizens to follow in real time via the Internet. So if the Lisbon Treaty is already doing something to tackle citizen’s disinterest in the EU what more can be done? It is true that the Lisbon treaty has implemented new measures that will hopefully lead to a rise in voting in the next European elections. However it is crucial for out topic to note that voting among 18-24 (29%) in 2009 was much lower that the average turnout (43%). This is why it is important to examine why younger Europeans are less likely to vote and how can they be encouraged to get more involved? With youth unemployment and thus social exclusion on the rise, how can we revive the hope of young people in the democratic process? Recent surveys have shown that young people do believe in the effectiveness of voting yet do not use this channel themselves. Yet they take more to the Internet and social media to try to express their views and participate. The question is how can we channel this activism towards making the effort to go and vote? And could electronic voting get more young people involved? Surveys also tell a story of inequality among youth and that those better educated are more likely to vote. Could something be done through educational reform to
Definition of democratic deficit: http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/glossary/democratic_deficit_en.htm Report on 2009 elections, with information about how the European Parliament works: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7819889.stm Read Page 1 of Sheet 1, Page 2 of Sheet 2 (Double Majority, note it will not come into force until earliest 2014), Sheet 4 http://www.robert-schuman.eu/en/dossiers-pedagogiques/traite-lisbonne/ 10fiches.pdf Participation of young people in politics: http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/education/eurydice/focus-on/ young_people_politics_en.php Article outlines some measures the EU tried to get youngsters to vote in 2009 elections: http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/voter-apathy-survey-signals-low- turnout-in-eu-parliament-electionsa-619104.html Ways in which young people participate: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2013/07/19/young-people-are-less-likely- to-vote-than-older-citizens-but-they-arealso-more-diverse-in-how-they- choose-to-participate-in-politics/
2. Committee on Development – DEVE Chairpersons: Rebecca Smith (FR), Beatrice Reichel (SE) Dead aid? Combined, the European Commission and the EU Member States constitute the single largest donor of development aid, but the effectiveness of development aid is frequently questioned. How should the EU make sure that European efforts secure a better economic and political future for the developing world? Overview Economic terminology can be a source of great confusion, which is why it is necessary to understand the distinction between a few terms that are key to the topic of development aid. The first is economic development and economic growth: economic growth is very simply an increase in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP); economic development, on the other hand, means an improvement in the standard of living of people in the long term. Therefore, not all economic growth results in economic development. A second important distinction is between development aid and humanitarian aid. Humanitarian aid refers to when money and resources are sent to alleviate a sudden crisis in a country. One example is this is when aid is sent to prevent human suffering in the direct aftermath of a natural or man-made catastrophe. Thus, humanitarian aid is only a shortterm measure. In contrast, development aid is a long-term measure, as its aim is the improvement of the social, environmental and political stability of a recipient state. This emphasises the importance of sustainability for development aid, and the dangers of making states dependent on development aid, as the goal is for governments to provide for their own citizens. The question is rarely whether development aid should be given, but rather how these substantial funds are used, and whether they are achieving their purpose. There are different approaches to how aid is applied on the ground to reach its purpose of assisting countries and populations in need. Some prefer a direct approach, such as transferring large funds to governments, to support the function of a poor state. For example, the governments of Cameroon and Madagascar receive a large portion of their revenue from foreign aid. Others would rather a project-based approach, which is targeted to specific problems, such as agricultural development or improving public health. Within this vision of more targeted aid, there is a great debate on the amounts of funds needed. One side, defended notably by Jeffrey Sachs, is in favour of large quantities of external support for development projects, arguing that development is within reach with the right amount of external funding. The other side, for example William Easterly, argues the opposite, that there is an excess of development aid. It is against outside aid and large top-down projects, and advocates for economic and political reforms. This approach values specific definable tasks that would directly affect problems, such as malaria medicine or a change in business regulations. There are thus major debates in allocation of development aid in particular whether it should be given directly to developing countries’ governments or to specific projects, and the quantity of support to be given. Once a strategy is agreed upon, the goals should be clarified. A better economic and political future can be interpreted in various ways. Development is often measured in purely economic terms of Gross Domestic Product per capita, but there are now competing measures that take into account broader definitions of development, such as the Human Development Index, which incorporates life expectancy and education. A better economic future could mean purely economic growth, or the development of a services sector, it could take into account environmental and social factors for a goal of sustainability, or simply focus on economic objectives. A better political future could mean a development of democracy, a decrease in war, an increase in political stability, or a decrease in corruption, to cite just a few examples. Deciding what is meant by a better economic and political future will shape development aid policies. The European Consensus on Development begins to answer the questions of what is meant by better economic and po-
litical future. In it, the EU calls for reduced transaction costs of aid, using less volatile aid mechanisms, as well as untying aid and finding solutions to unsustainable debt burdens. Its two tenets are poverty eradication according to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and that this occurs within the context of sustainable development. The European Union is in favour of development aid. The debate is thus not on whether the EU should support the development of countries in need, but rather how it can do so efficiently. The EU has therefore set a trajectory, but it remains to see how these individual goals are to be accomplished in reality. Links for further research Overview of Economic Development Theory: http://www.diffen.com/difference/Economic_Development_vs_Economic_Growth Analysis of EU Aid Effectiveness: http://edoc.vifapol.de/opus/volltexte/2011/3292/pdf/ DP_11.2008.pdf The European Consensus on Development: http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/what/development-policies/european-consensus/index_en.htm Oxfam’s Suggestions for Improving Aid Effectiveness, with Case Examples: http://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/bp137-21st-century-aid.pdf Sachs vs Easterly debate: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-op- sachseasterly8may8,1,7163495.htmlstory Addressing corruption as the key for development: http://www.brookings.edu/research/ articles/2010/05/18-mdg-governance-kaufmann
3. Committee on Human Rights – DROI Chairpersons: Laure Steinville (FR), Anna Turunen (FI) With the number of asylum seekers and illegal immigrants steadily increasing in the EU, how should the EU better control its external borders whilst respecting human rights? Topic overview European states have a long tradition of providing a safe haven to the persecuted. The protection of fundamental rights belongs to Europe’s core identity. In 1999, the EU Member States committed themselves to creating a Common European Asylum System to tackle the increasing challenges large-scale immigration poses on a European level. Since 1999, the EU has adopted a number of important legislative measures aimed at harmonising the Member States’ differing asylum systems. The Dublin Regulation is one of these and determines which Member State is responsible for examining an individual asylum application. The Reception Conditions Directive sets out the minimum conditions for the reception of asylumseekers, including housing, education and health. The Asylum Procedures Directive lays out minimum standards for asylum procedures, making an important contribution to international law, as this issue is originally not regulated by the 1951 Geneva Convention. The Qualification Directive introduces a form of subsidiary protection, complementing the 1951 Convention, to be granted to people facing risks of serious harm. The EU has also set up a European Refugee Fund to provide financial support to the Member States to allow their asylum systems to work efficiently. Eurodac, a communitywide information technology system has been launched to compare fingerprints and to determine whether an asylumseeker has already lodged an asylum claim in another Member State.
non- discrimination vis-à-vis the citizens of the State of residence. The European Council (EC) endorses the objective that long-term legally resident third country nationals be offered the opportunity to obtain the nationality of the Member State in which they are resident. However, immigration is often seen as a threat and not as a potential benefit. Immigration has increasingly become a key issue of domestic policy in many countries, which can partly be seen in the rising support for anti-immigration parties. Some people think that the data exchange between various national maritime agencies that survey the sea borders is insufficient and doesn’t help the problem of legal immigration because it fails to address the real issue of why immigrants and refugees seek to come to Europe. Thus it must be asked are the recent improvements by the EU in its external border protection and the asylum procedure sufficient or should something more be done? Keywords Asylum seeker, migrant, Geneva Convention, EURODAC, EUROSUR Links for further research The asylum system in the EU: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/asylum/index_en.htm ￼￼ Geneva convention: http://www.unhcr.org/protect/PROTECTION/3b66c2aa10.pdf Frontex website, Eurosur policy: http://www.frontex.europa.eu/eurosur
However despite these directives and regulations aiming at EU-wide consistency in policy, there are still significant differences between EU Members States in their approaches to protection, the chances and rates of refugee recognition as well as the reception conditions such as health care available to men, women and children seeking asylum. For instance, in some EU Member States, access to basic material support is so limited that many asylum-seekers end up sleeping on the streets.
A case study of asylum seekers from Syria: http://www.euractiv.com/justice/eu-experiences-surge-asylum-seek-news-529187
The European Council (EC) is searching for more efficient ways to manage migration flows at all their stages. It calls for the development, in close co-operation with countries of origin and transit, of information campaigns on the possibilities for legal immigration, and for the prevention of all forms of human trafficking. The EC is also determined to tackle illegal immigration by combating human trafficking and economic exploitation of migrants. The EC also wants closer co-operation and mutual technical assistance between the Member States border control services, such as exchange programmes and technology transfer, especially on maritime borders, and for the rapid inclusion of the applicant States in this co-operation.
The urgency of guaranteeing human rights of migrants: http://www.euractiv.com/migrations/eu-urged-guarantee-human-rights- news-528154
The European Parliament and EC agreed (May 2013) on a new border surveillance system, Eurosur. Eurosur is a communication system designed to protect the EU’s external borders by detecting, preventing and combating illegal immigration and cross-border crime. It must also be used to help save migrants’ lives when they are in danger. Eurosur also aims to improve the management of the EU’s external borders by improving information exchange among EU Member States and with the EU border management agency Frontex. One of the key novelties of Eurosur is that it clarifies the action Member States must take when responding to situations at their borders. The legal status of third country nationals is approximated to that of Member States’ nationals. A person, who has resided legally in a Member State for a period of time to be determined and who holds a long-term residence permit, should be granted in that Member State, a set of uniform rights which are as near as possible to those enjoyed by EU citizens; e.g. the right to reside, receive education, and work as an employee or self-employed person, as well as the principle of
The recent “Lampedusa tragedy”: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-24396020 http://www.eubusiness.com/news-eu/italy-immigration.qrf/
4. Committee on Employment and Social Affairs – EMPL Chairpersons: Anna Pusa (FI), Ayda Jodayri Hashemizadeh (FI) The challenge of dramatically high youth unemployment rates: How should European governments best offer opportunities to those ages 16-24 to ensure that the current generation of European youth does not become irreversibly excluded from the labour market? Overview Young people under 25 have seen the current economic crisis worsening their employment prospects heavily. Youth unemployment has reached unprecedented levels in several Member States of the European Union (EU), which shows when comparing figures from 2008 with the current situation. This has lead to talk about a “lost generation” of Europeans. In the first quarter of 2008 the unemployment rate of Europeans aged 16–24 was 15%. By July 2012 it was 22.9% and the current youth unemployment rate within the EU is 23.4% (July 2013). In July 2013, 5.560 million young persons were unemployed in the EU and the highest rates were found in Greece (62.9% in May 2013), Spain (56.1%) and the newest Member State Croatia (55.4% in the second quarter of 2013). The lowest rates were observed in Germany (7.7%), Austria (9.2%) and Malta (10.6%). This shows a high divergence amongst the Member States. At the beginning of the 2010’s, the Member States with the highest levels of youth unemployment were namely Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain. What must be pointed out is that a youth unemployment rate of 23.4% does not mean that nearly one forth of all young Europeans aged 16–24 are jobless. The rate tells us the number of young unemployed people as a percentage of the labour force of the same age. Not all aged 16–24 are part of the labour force: the definition of an unemployed person by the International Labour Organization (ILO) is someone available to start working within the next two weeks and who has actively sought employment at some time during the previous four weeks. Therefore, most school students for example are not part of the labour force. One of the root causes of youth unemployment is a low level of education and young people lack the relevant skills needed. High rates of school dropouts are alarming in countries like Spain, where the issue of an increasingly large group of well educated young adults who despite their diplomas can’t find a job is equally alarming. Young Europeans of today find themselves in a situation where a tertiary education does not guarantee finding a job. Those young people who do work are overrepresented in the group of workers with part-time jobs and low wages. Even these young workers find themselves in an uncertain situation despite the fact that they have a job. The current situation has seen an increase in the labour mobility on the internal market of the EU. Many young people in the countries that are worse off are willing to move to another EU country in search of a job. As these people are highly skilled young professionals, it might lead to a brain drain in countries where the youth can’t find employment. However, in the long run young people returning from abroad will have the kind of skills and work experience that could help boost the economy of their country. The costs of youth unemployment for the Member States as well as for the EU as a whole are both economic and social, as it leads to poverty, social exclusion and a weaker civil society and democratic participation. Combatting the problem within the Member States and on a European level has resulted in actions to promote education and the crucial transition from school to work. Key actions include preventing early school leaving, addressing the significant skills mismatches on the EU’s labour market, and helping young people gain the first work experiences through on-the-job training, internships and traineeships. One strategy is to introduce more practical elements in educational programmes. A means to solve the crisis is also to
encourage young entrepreneurship and start-up businesses. The most notable recent action taken by the EU to tackle youth unemployment is the “Youth Employment Initiative” with a budget of 6 billion for the period 2014-2020, unveiled in March 2013. It enables the Member States to directly target individuals of the group of young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs) in regions with a youth unemployment rate at above 25% and deliver them measures such as support for apprenticeships or first job experiences. Another EU action to help NEETs is the “Youth Guarantee”, which guarantees youth access to employment, education or high-quality traineeships within four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education. All Member States are required to implement the guarantee and currently Finland and Austria have done so. The main actors to solve the high youth unemployment are national governments. The EU can take measures that complement national policies. Employers and workers, in this case the youth themselves, are important actors in solving the problem. One of the things that are needed to let young people find a job is surely the cooperation between employers and labour market factors such as employment services, trade unions and youth services as well as cooperation between employment services, education institutions and career guidance services. Keywords Youth Employment Initiative, Youth Opportunities Initiative, Youth Guarantee, ”lost generation”, early school leaving, NEETs, EURES portal, Your first EURES job Links for further research Youth Opportunities Initiative video: http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/player.cfm?ref=I073435 Your first EURES job video: http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/player.cfm?ref=I077171 ￼￼ Young, qualified and jobless: plight of Europe’s best-educated generation, The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jul/01/jobless-europe-young-qualified Europe takes steps to tackle youth unemployment, The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/jul/01/europe-steps-tackle-youth- unemployment Youth unemployment in Europe – Guaranteed to fail, The Economist: http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21582006-german-led-plans-tackling-youth- unemployment-europe-are-fartoo-timid-guaranteed-fail
5. Committee on Industry, Research and Energy – ITRE Chairperson: Anamaria Olaru (RO), Tuulia Karvinen (FI) The post-Fukushima Europe: with the challenge of balancing environmental sustainability, security and the need for cheap energy, what role should nuclear energy play in the EU Member States’ energy strategies? Overview “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” – 1987, Brundtland Commission of the United Nations Over the past two years, there have been political statements of interest with respect to nuclear energy in some EU Member States and around the world. Nuclear energy has come back into the political debate. The International Energy Agency and the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency1 have also highlighted the important contribution of nuclear energy in the near future. In this context, the EU can play a central role to further develop an even more advanced framework meeting the highest standards of safety, security and nonproliferation. Nuclear energy, the development of which has been supported by the Euratom treaty since 1957, continues to be an element in the construction of the EU, which has leadership in this technology. Nuclear energy today provides slightly less than 30 % of the electricity consumed in the EU and a small fraction of process heat for district heating and industrial applications. The contribution of nuclear energy is a reliable, predictable, clean and competitive base load. As a result, nuclear energy today is also a positive contributor to the EU environment, economy and growth. Currently there are 132 nuclear power plants in 14 EU Member States. Nuclear energy does however pose environmental risk. Having produced high amounts of radioactive waste we now have to consider whether we can continue to do so by using deep geological repository for the radioactive waste or we should invest more in the research and development of renewable energy. Nuclear energy is also one of the most economic energy sources, less vulnerable to fuel price changes, thereby protecting EU economies against raw materials price volatility. It also increases the security of energy supply in Europe, since uranium sources are widely distributed around the globe, in contrast to fossil fuels that are only found in few places, The European Union is currently dependent on the fossil fuel resources provided by Russia, which would no longer be the case were it to use more nuclear power. Regardless of the exact evolution of energy consumption, EU electricity demand is expected to continue growing faster than overall energy demand. Insufficient base load capacity2 may jeopardise the stability of the EU’s electricity network unless countermeasures on a large scale are introduced. Renewable energy sources will increase their share but other energy sources will be needed, since renewable energy supply is still intermittent, possibilities to store electricity are limited and demand has to be met at all times. Replacement and/or life extension of ageing nuclear power plants coming to the end of their originally foreseen lifetime before 2020 need increasing levels of attention. If shut down, the contribution of nuclear energy to the overall electricity supply will substantially decrease, unless new plants are built or older ones are safely upgraded to operate for an extended period. Currently the main argument for nuclear energy over renewable is its low selling prize in comparison to renewable energy. Even though the selling price is lower, the construction of a new power plant with necessary technology and safety measures is more expensive than e.g. building numerous windmills. If the EU desires to increase the use of renewable energy, they have to find a way to make it more affordable for consumers. To lower the selling prize and costs of renewable energy the EU needs to invest in the development of renewable energy. Investing in the development and research of renewable energy sources can not only lower the costs on the same level as nuclear power, but these subsidies would also support the economy by creating new jobs.
While the interest for the use of nuclear energy has increased during recent years, there are differences in the attitude of member states toward nuclear energy. The UK government has opted for the long-term maintenance of nuclear energy production, whereas Germany and Switzerland have opted for the phasing out of nuclear energy. The issue of nuclear safety is a priority in the EU. Of course, there are also some clear disadvantages of nuclear power. Greenpeace for instance, has always fought - and will continue to fight - vigorously against it because it considers it an unacceptable risk to the environment and to humanity. While some believe that the only solution is to halt the expansion of all nuclear power, others strongly disagree. An energy system that can fight climate change, based on renewable energy and energy efficiency is needed. Nuclear power already delivers less energy globally than renewable energy, and the share will continue to decrease in the coming years. Nuclear energy plays an important role in the transition to a low carbon economy and reduces EU external supply dependency. The choice to include nuclear energy in the energy mix lies with the Member States. Nevertheless, it should be noted that if strategic investment decisions about power generation capacities in nuclear as well as in renewable energy are taken rapidly, nearly two thirds of EU’s electricity generation could be low carbon in the early 2020s. Use of nuclear power will lower the CO2 emissions in comparison to the use of fossil fuels, but now is the time for Europe to decide whether it is enough for its population. Deciding on nuclear power might not be as sustainable for the environment as its supporters claim it to be. Also the possible shortage of uranium gives renewable energy the benefit of the doubt since wind and solar energy resources are limitless. Is cheap nuclear energy worth risking the possibility of a new nuclear catastrophe such as the Fukushima or should we believe that renewable energies are capable of paying back the investments given to them? It is thus a very controversial issue that needs concrete solutions. The question whether nuclear energy should or should not be used more frequently in the EU development remains a crucial one for the discussed topic. Links for further research Basics of nuclear energy: http://www.world-nuclear.org/Nuclear-Basics/ A blog-post opposing nuclear energy: http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0929-33.htm Short PDF about the nuclear fuel cycle: http://ec.europa.eu/research/energy/euratom/publications/pdf/2013_symposium_proceedings.pdf (page 24) http://www. ensreg.eu/sites/default/files/ENSREG%20Fuel%20Cycle.pdf Summary of the Euratom treaty: http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/energy/nuclear_energy/index_en.htm http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/ institutional_affairs/treaties/treaties_euratom_en.htm
6. Committee onecurity and Defence – SEDE
Links for further research
Chairperson: Ruxandra Ioanitescu (RO)
Protection of personal data: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/data-protection/index_en.htm
In the aftermath of the NSA spying scandal it has become clear that large-scale electronic surveillance is a global phenomenon. How should the EU and its Member States respond to the threat foreign surveillance poses to information security of European organisations and citizens?
European Convention on Human Rights: http://www.echr.coe.int/Documents/Convention_ENG.pdf
A newspaper article revealing GCHQ’s cyber attack on a Belgian telecommunications firm: http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/british-spy-agency-gchq- hacked-belgian-telecoms-firm-a-923406.html
As Internet users we have all grown accustomed to disclosing, both with our consent or unknowingly, large amounts of personal information, never really giving a second thought to the number of people that could have access to it and the consequences this could have. With personal information shared so willingly on social media sites, how can we make sure this information is not used against us? The websites we use claim to have security measures to protect us and initiatives such as the Data protection Directive of 1995 have been taken to make sure the right to privacy of citizens is protected. However, there are still issues with current legislation that is outdated and insufficient as we can see from the abuses that have taken place. In a technological era such as the one we live in, data processors who can manage our data, have incredible power and influence, which they can use for profit by exploiting our personal information. Furthermore when the threat comes from other countries, how can the EU safeguard our information? After the NSA spying scandal US-EU diplomacy has suffered a big hit, and even the talks about a EU-US trade pact have been suspended due to France and Germany strongly opposing any collaboration. Even so, there is no real debate or pressure in the USA regarding NSA activity outside national borders. The only ones concerned about the European situation are online companies, afraid the new privacy laws proposed by the EU will affect their businesses. What is worse and more threatening to European security is the fact that intelligence agencies within the EU, such as the BND (in Germany) or the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ, in the United Kingdom), have been working with the NSA, according to information provided by the American whistleblower Edward Snowden. These agencies have been providing the NSA with data on European citizens. The GCHQ was also proved to be behind a cyber-attack against Belgacom, a Belgian telecommunications company. Alarmed by all this, as well as further news which has shown US intelligence tapped into Swift, which holds large amounts of financial information, the EU is considering suspending programs such the Terrorist Financial Tracking Program (TFTP) or Safe Harbor. These programs have been put up for review and it is yet to be decided whether the EU will withdraw from them. In response to the difficult situation the EU has found itself in, in January 2012 the EU Commissioner for Justice introduced the General Data Protection Regulation (CDPR). The regulation is meant to strengthen protection of data and impose strict sanctions in order to make sure the rights of citizens in regards to their personal information are respected. An already existing institution that deals with this is the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), which ensures all EU bodies and institutions respect the aforementioned rights. Furthermore the EU’s Digital Agenda includes in Pillar III a reinforcement of these rules as well as strengthening of the digital market. But with all these measures still not fully implemented, there is a long way to go. Keywords NSA, right to privacy, data protection, personal information, General Data Protection Regulation
The Draft EU Data Protection Regulation: http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx? g=7cef61cf-0988-4f0f-9c2b-3d3e8ab6f266 The European Data Protection Supervisor: http://europa.eu/about-eu/institutions-bodies/edps/ Digital Agenda for Europe: http://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/en Take control of your personal data – video promo: https://www.youtube.com/watch? feature=player_embedded&v=5ByVaZ0rg8U What Facebook knows about you – video bulletin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJvAUqs3Ofg A reclame to quit lobbying on new EU legislation on data protection: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKZmQJQrTuY A video demonstrating dangers of insufficient data protection: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyN99rFJYjE
7. Committee on Regional Development I – REGI I Chairperson: Anastasia Lvova (EE), Alex Coates (UK) Reviewing the Catalan, Scottish and Flemish experience: with breakaway regions sending the EU into legally and politically unmapped territory, what should be the EU’s stance towards secession movements within its borders and the potential of newly emerging sovereign states within EU territory? Overview
part isn’t a member of the European Union.” What should the EU’s next step be and to what extent should it be dealing with these issues of secession? If independence is gained by any of these regions, should they have to go through the same rigorous testing and criteria alluded to in the cases of official candidates such as Turkey and Western Balkan states? Even if they do go through the same process, will it be a similar situation to Turkey’s where it is expected to take 10-15 years for any decision of accession to be made? Keywords Secession, autonomous community, independent state, SNP, ANC, N-VA, instigator, European Union membership, separatist
Secession movements in their simplest form are often a fine balancing act between the instigator(s) and other people involved; a simple yes or no answer. However, things in life are never so simple. The European Union (EU) is an extremely complex organisation which functions on multiple treaties, conventions and agreements. Joining the Union has historically been a long, drawn out affair with many hurdles to overcome. Should the regions in question - Scotland, Catalonia & Flanders - become independent states, the question of them having to apply for membership within such organisations as the Council of Europe, European Union and NATO would become inevitable. In the cases at hand we have some quite distinct differences between each of them whilst also having several overarching issues.
Links for further research
Scotland is a region that is an equal quarter of the United Kingdom along with England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The speak of secession has been discussed for many years now and appears to be an argument based upon ethnic affiliation. It is very much a case of people power versus political power. The issue was heavily accentuated by the Scottish National Party (SNP) as a cornerstone of their rise to political prominence. If independence is achieved then Scotland will gain complete political and economic independence from the United Kingdom. The SNP argue that they could become economically stable quicker than the UK ever could. Many critics have argued however that Scotland as an independent nation could become potentially economically fragile and that a continuation of current high public sector spending could land the country in turmoil.
Flanders: A Region in Search of Itself: http://www.lucbarbe.be/nl/blog/opiniestuk/flanders-region-search-itself
Catalonia is an autonomous community in the North-Eastern part of Spain. The main instigators of the independence movement in this region are the public. A major player in this situation is the Catalan National Assembly (ANC - Assemblea Nacional Catalana). Catalonia is known as the richest region of Spain, ergo they feel that they can be and want to be self-sufficient. The ANC are a famously culturally dominant organisation. For example, on 11th September - National Day of Catalonia - a 480km ‘Human Chain’ took place in order to express people’s wills. Due to the sheer economic strength of the region, independence could lead to the demise of countries around the area with weak economies such as Spain and Italy.
EU enlargement: The next seven: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-11283616
Flanders is the Northern part of Belgium which has its own separate Flemish language community, government and parliament recognised by the federal government. The Flemish region is also united with Wallonia and Brussels under the Belgian government. According to statistics, only 15-20% of the Flemish community is proud to be Belgian and does not want independence. The main instigators of the separatist movement for Flanders are the the right-wing party N-VA (Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie - New-Flemish Alliance). Similarly to Catalonia, Flanders would become one of the richest states within EU territory should it gain independence. The current economic situation is one where they effectively support weaker regions in Belgium such as Wallonia and the N-VA expresses that it would be more beneficial to remove such a burden. However, their independence brings up specific issues regarding structural reinvention. There is an underlying question of what would become of other Belgian regions, in particular Brussels. Often described as not only the intercultural capital of Belgium but also of the European Union itself due to placement of organisational wealth and management, this is a key battleground. There has been very little concrete opinion given by the European Union itself on the currently hypothetical situation.One piece of publicly expressed information comes from the European Commission’s Spanish (non-Catalan) Vice-President Joaquín Almunia who said recently that “If one part of a territory of a member state decides to separate, the separated
Madrid seeks talks with Catalonia to avoid independence referendum: http://rt.com/news/spain-catalonia-independence-talks-886/ Autonomous Community definition: http://www.gencat.cat/generalitat/eng/estatut/titol_preliminar.htm
Andrew Neil on Scottish Independence: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7oFiR0vUYIU Scottish Independence is a Wretched Idea Riddled With Inconsistencies and Ironies: http://ukhousebubble.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/scottish-independence-is-wretched- idea.html
8. Committee on Regional Development II – REGI II Chairperson: Tim Backhaus (FI), Onur Can Ucarer (TR) Building the periphery: mechanisms such as the Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund play an important role in developing the peripheral areas of Europe, but they are also costly. Keeping in mind that metropolitan areas are the primary motors of growth, how should the EU best support its peripheral areas to suit the needs of their population? Overview The Cohesion Policy, officially the Regional Policy of the European Union, improves the economic well-being of regions in the EU whilst trying to reduce regional differences. This policy aims to remove economic, social and territorial disparities across the EU, restructure weakening industrial areas and diversify rural areas, especially those with declining agricultural activities. The Regional Policy of the EU is geared to make regions more competitive, fostering economic growth and creating new jobs. The policy also has a role to play in wider challenges for the future, including climate change, energy supply and globalisation. The Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund are the financial instruments of the Regional Policy. The Structural Funds are divided to two different funds. The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) is currently the largest. It provides support for the creation of infrastructure and productive job-creating investment, mainly for businesses. The European Social Fund (ESF) contributes to the integration into working life of the unemployed and disadvantaged sections of the population, mainly by funding training measures. The Cohesion Fund contributes in the field of environment and TransEuropean Transport Networks (TEN-T). For the period 2007-2013, the budget allocated to regional policy amounts to around 348 billion, comprising 278 billion for the Structural Funds and 70 billion for the Cohesion Fund. This represents around 36% of the EU Community budget and is the second largest budget item. All cohesion policy programmes are cofinanced by the member countries, bringing total available funding to almost 700 billion. There are three main aims of the Regional Policy of the European Union. The most important, and the costliest part, is convergence. 81.5% of regional policy funding is being spent in order to meet the costs of building the lacking infrastructure, ￼ modernising the water treatment facilities, building highways or improving access to high-speed Internet connections. This objective covers the poorest regions of Europe, whose GDP per capita is less than 75% of EU average. This basically covers nearly all of the regions of what is formally known as the Fifth Enlargement1, and also includes regions in East Germany, Southern Italy, Greece, Portugal, and Spain. The second objective is to create jobs by increasing regional competitiveness. 16% of the funds are being spent for this cause and possible sub-projects include supporting research centres, universities and small businesses. Third, and financially the least important objective, is the European Territorial Cooperation. The main aim of this development programme is to reduce the importance of borders within EU, thus improve the cooperation between member states. Having indicated that the regional development funding is covering the one third of the whole EU budget, it comes as no surprise that there are loads of criticism towards how the system works. One of the major complaints comes from Germany. Europe’s strongest economy claims it is unfair when a Member State receives funds for regional development because it failed to correct effects of macroeconomic imbalances. Therefore, they ask for an amendment, which allows the Commission to suspend such countries’ regional payments. Another important criticism is about the complexity of the bureaucratic structure of the Regional Policy and the Funds. Regional representatives claim that managing the EU funds is very hard. In each Member State, national governments and local administrations have different stages of decision-making, power and laws. These differences lead the maldistribution of funds. Although there are proposals to simplify the structure, it is not easy in practice, again because of the varying legislations.
Besides the huge economic impact of its funds, regional development also affects the lives of the people living in periphery. Due to the rapid urbanisation, there are lots of job opportunities in cities. On the other hand, without enough support, peripheral areas lack these opportunities, thus lead to an obligatory migration for many. As assuring the well-being of its citizens is one of the duties of the EU, the necessary support needs to be delivered to peripheral areas. The question is now what form this support should have. Having ambitious key targets for 2020, how should the EU improve the prosperity of their citizens living in peripheral areas, while improving its budget strategy for Regional Development between 2014-2020? Keywords Peripheral areas, the Regional Policy of the European Union, the Structural Funds, Cohesion Fund Links for further research A detailed explanation of the Regional Policy of the EU: http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/index_en.cfm Legislative proposals for the Cohesion Funds (2014-2020): http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/what/future/index_en.cfm Key statistics on the Cohesion Funding: http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/thefunds/funding/index_en.cfm An article about the effect of Regional Policy on economic crisis: http:// www.theparliament.com/latest-news/article/newsarticle/regional-policy-is-key- to-exiting-the-eus-economiccrisis-says-commissioner/#.UlRl0RZL1G5 An article about the necessity of the EU Regional Policy: http://www.theparliament.com/latest-news/article/newsarticle/regional-policy- chief-explains-the-importance-eu-funded-growth-strategies/#.UlRf_RYmwlI An article about the proposal for the simplification of the cohesion policy: http://www.euractiv.com/regional-policy/cohesion-policy-baby-steps-simplnews-515323
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