Tampere 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
Welcome words Dear delegates, Dear participants of the Regional Selection Conference of EYP Finland in Tampere, with the Regional Session in Tampere fast approaching, the chairs-team is now delighted to present you the academic preparation kit for the topics that you will be discussing throughout the session. All chairpersons worked on producing a highly academic result which you will use in order to inform yourselves on your assigned topics. I advise you all to not only pay attention to the overview of the topic you have been assigned to but also take all overviews into consideration as they will help you have a better grasp of all aspects of EU politics that the session’s academic spectrum encompasses. The overviews will provide you with a general picture of the current status of the respective aspects of the topics and the sources provided to you for further research (links) will allow you to further expand the pool of information you will gather for each specific topic. The chairpersons have put effort in reviewing the status quo for each topic but it is up to you individually to expand your research based on the proposed links. I strongly urge all of you to put effort in collecting information on your own accord. Moreover, within this prep kit you will find an introductory page with proposed links for videos that will help you understand the fundamentals of EU better. I advise you to take the time and watch those videos. They will provide you with more perspective on official EU institutions, decision-making procedures and balance of bargaining power at the EU level. I am looking forward to meeting you all in Tampere this coming November and I assure you that the chairs-team will do its best to facilitate you throughout the session, Dimitris Zacharias President Tampere 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.
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 28 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. 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. Seventeen 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 28 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 766 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 28 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
Introductory media – the EU explained This section will provide delegates with insight into the aims, processes and rules of governance of the European Union. The generic videos introduce key aspects of EU procedural mechanisms and provide fundamental information in many of the current topics on the EU agenda. Note: all videos that are not spoken in English have a subtitle option. The EU Institutions Explained by their Presidents A view from the inside: the Presidents of the main European Union institutions share their views on how the EU actually works. Who does what? What’s specific to each institution? What is the role of President? How do they see Europe’s future? How it works: European Laws This animated video guides the viewer through the Ordinary Legislative Procedure and highlights the procedures that lead to the adoption of a new piece of legislation. The animated guide also clearly distinguishes the areas of jurisdiction of all the institutions included in the EU legislative procedure. How it works: Trilogue Why do MEPs increasingly often negotiate with the states behind closed doors before even voting in plenary? A look at the how(s) and why(s) of trilogues. How it works: European Parliament European Parliament explained: who its Members are, how their work is organised, what powers they yield and the impact of all this on the daily life of Europeans. How It Works: What will the Lisbon Treaty change for the Parliament? The EP stands to gain the most from the Lisbon Treaty. Not only will the number of MEPs increase, but also their powers to decide together with the Council on matters such as agriculture, justice and home affairs, and the budget. The EP’s political control of the Commission will also be strengthened. How it works: EU Membership How does a country join the European Union? We’ll be looking at how far Iceland, Turkey and Croatia have come in their membership bids. How It Works: EU Budget Where does the EU get its money from, how does it decide about its budget and who benefits the most? We examine the EU’s budget procedure and focus in on the European Parliament’s changed role in it. How it works: What makes for a good single currency? EuroparlTV investigates the Fiscal Compact and the changes it has brought to the rules of economic governance of Member States. The Fiscal Compact builds on the principles of governance of the Stability Pact.
How It Works: Leaving the EU The Lisbon Treaty now provides for it officially: a Member State can leave the EU. In fact, it can just stop implementing EU laws overnight or, more sensibly, negotiate its exit. In any case, it’ll all be over in max 2 years. The Crisis of Credit Visualized This video traces the origins of the credit crisis of 2008 and the elements that led to an international financial turmoil. This video uses visual assistance to explain the complicated financial processes that led to an international crisis.
Committee topics 1. Committee on Constitutional Affairs – AFCO Chairpersons: Charlotta Lahnalahti (FI), Dennis Patriarcheas (GR) 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? 2. Committee on Foreign Affairs – AFET Chairpersons: Kian Hunziker (CH), Bilge Özensoy (TR) With over 100 000 dead, and millions of refugees, the Syrian civil war has become one of the worst humanitarian crises of the decade. As talk of the possibility of military intervention increases, what stance should the EU take in international efforts to cease the violence in Syria? 3. Committee on Culture and Education – CULT Chairpersons: Madlaina Michelotti (CH), Dimitris Zacharias (GR) With research confirming that 1 in 5 young people are experiencing a mental health problem at any one time, what steps can European governments take to support positive mental health for young people? 4. Committee on Employment and Social Affairs – EMPL Chairpersons: Roksolana Pidlasa (UA), Ada Aadeli (FI) The challenge of dramatically high youth unemployment rates: How should European governments best offer opportunities to those aged 16–24 to ensure that the current generation of European youth does not become irreversibly excluded from the labour market? 5. Committee on International Trade – INTA Chairpersons: Christos Papadogeorgopoulos (GR), Mico Sjöberg (FI) Exporting for growth: with small and medium size enterprises building the backbone of the EU economy, how can the EU further promote the internationalization of SMEs in order to help them access international trading markets? 6. Committee on Industry, Research and Energy – ITRE Chairpersons: Riikka Nieminen (FI), Francesco Delorenzi (BE) 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?
7. Committee on Regional Development I – REGI I Chairpersons: Natalia Vagena (GR), Tuusa 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? 8. Committee on Regional Development II – REGI II Chairperson: Tim Backhaus (FI) 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? 9. Committee on Security and Defence – SEDE Chairpersons: Katerina Zejdlova (CZ), Sara Kalkku (FI) 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 Constitutional Affairs – AFCO Chairpersons: Charlotta Lahnalahti (FI), Dennis Patriarcheas (GR) 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? Overview The term “democratic deficit” stands for the lack of democratic legitimacy in the European Union (EU). Democratic legitimacy in turn implies the democratic accountability and compliance of the democratic procedures to the accepted standards. Drastically low voter turnout in the 2009 elections challenges the legitimacy of the decisions made in the European Parliament (EP). All in all, less than a half of the citizens exercised their right to vote1. Especially for the voters aged 18-24 this figure sunk to 29% across Europe2. Citizens’ indifference towards elections has been growing since 1979 with an average 5% decrease after each term. The introduction of the Treaty of Lisbon and its institutional reforms in 2007 aimed at reinforcing democracy and fostering citizens’ inclusion in the policy-making process. Among other institutional changes, the Lisbon Treaty declared the extension of the EP’s power in law-making and budgetary control.3 Nonetheless, nowadays it has been questioned whether the Lisbon Treaty succeeded in reaching its democracy goals4. The EP is the only institution whose members (MEPs) are directly elected by the people and despite its increasing power and influence over the policy-making process its responsibilities and the competences are still limited in comparison to other institutions. Formally, the EP cannot initiate a legislative procedure and does not fully exercise its legislative power in certain areas. On the other hand, the most important executive and legislative EU institution, the European Commission, is formed without direct involvement of the citizens. The limited powers of the EP - the only directly elected EU institution - has led to disengagement of citizens in European politics; some have even admitted to losing faith in the European idea. Additionally, with youth unemployment rising strongly and economic growth slowing down in many Member States, young European citizens tend to lose their faith5 in the effectiveness of EU governance. Conversely, several EU citizens admit that they are not ready to take part in the democratic process as they do not feel they know enough about the way the European Union and its governance system work.6 On the threshold of Parliamentary Elections, governmental institutions and non-partisan organisations pay particular attention to combating the democratic deficit in the EU. For instance, a civil society organisation called “European Alternatives” launched “The Citizens Pact for European Democracy”, aimed at promoting the 2014 elections, as well as raising awareness about the EU institutions and their respective functions. The programme will be in action until 2014, and will attempt to appeal to European citizens through public events, media, social networks, etc. Another instrument of bringing the governance system closer to people was initiated by the European Commission. EU 1 Turnout at the European elections (1979-2009), European Parliament 2 ”Frustrated young voters could reverse declining turnout in EU elections”, www.euractiv.com, June 2013 3 European Parliament and the Lisbon Treaty
4 Democratic Deficit of the EU After the Lisbon Treaty – Is There an Institutional Solution? – EuroAcademia 5 Europeans Losing Faith in Their Parliament – The New York Times 6 EU Citizenship Report 2013 – European Commission
Citizenship Reports are regularly published to remind citizens about their rights in the EU. The Reports are distributed in all official languages in order to reach all societal clusters in Member States. EU Citizenship Reports often refer to a prominent tool of participatory democracy; the European Citizens Initiative (ECI), which may call for the European Commission to initiate legislation. A proposal can concern any important issue that the organising group deems important. In order for the ECI to be contemplated by the European Commission, one million signatures have to be gathered and it has to fall under EU competences. The first proposal of such kind,“Right2Water”,7 quickly became famous and caught the attention of the European Commission.8 More than 1.9 million signatures were collected and now the proposal is to be passed to the European Commission for processing. Why do other citizens refrain from starting their own legislative initiatives to shape their own future? The leading EU institutions struggle to promote the European identity and maintain the ideas of European citizenship. However, the citizens of the EU have been growing more and more sceptical towards the complex system of EU governance and its efficiency. How could the EU retain peoples’ attention to the common interests, and revitalise the cooperation with the young generation? What is the best way to increase the voter turnout among youth, and what role should national governments play in this process? Keywords Legitimacy, democratic legitimacy, democratic deficit, EU (institutional) trialogue, primary/secondary EU law, European elections, European Citizens’ Initiative, sructured dialogue Links for further research EU Citizenship Report 2013 On the Evidence-based Youth Policy Making Open Method of Coordination (OMC) Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute, Democratic improvements in the European Union under the Lisbon Treaty, Institutional changes regarding democratic government in the EU , February 2011 How to reduce the EU’s democratic deficit – The Guardian The EU’s democratic challenge – BBC The European Citizens Initiative: a tool of its time? – Open Democracy.net
7 Right2Water 8 Comissioners view on the Right2Water – European Commission
2. Committee on Foreign Affairs – AFET Chairpersons: Kian Hunziker (CH), Bilge Özensoy (TR) With over 100 000 dead, and millions of refugees, the Syrian civil war has become one of the worst humanitarian crises of the decade. As talk of the possibility of military intervention increases, what stance should the EU take in international efforts to cease the violence in Syria? Overview Tensions in Syria began in March 2011 as peaceful demonstrations against Assad’s corrupt government and the government’s continuous violations of its citizens’ rights. Eventually, the protests escalated and evolved into a civil war across the country1. Today, over 100 000 people have lost their lives, 4 million have been internally displaced and about 2 million have fled to neighboring countries as refugees.2 Although efforts have been made by the international community to cease the conflict, there are still many obstacles that disallow effective peacemaking. First of all, the support of Assad’s government by Russia and Iran through the steady supply of weaponry to the military keeps fueling the ongoing armed conflicts with the opposition. Russia and China’s vetoing of UN (United Nations) resolutions on imposition of sanctions to the Syrian regime has also inhibited the attempts of members of the UN to apply further international pressure on the Syrian governmental forces.3 The recent chemical attack in Ghouta on 21st August 20134, which according to the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs is “a blatant violation of international law, a war crime and a crime against humanity”5, fears of escalation of violence have been reaffirmed. Syria is believed to possess more than 1,000 tonnes of chemical agents6. This attack shifted the debate on interventions and has brought the issue of chemical weapon disarmament into the center of attention among the international community. In response, Russia and the USA reached the first agreement on the matter and called for the seizure of Syrian chemical weapons by mid-20147. How should the European Union (EU) be involved in these efforts? And moreover, how will this agreement influence further debates on how the international community addresses armed conflicts in sovereign states where the government violates fundamental citizens’ rights? The EU has repeatedly demanded a political solution to the conflict and an immediate end to the violence. The EU has highlighted the importance of working together with other international institutions, including the UN and the League of Arab States, to establish political stability. Together, these organisations outlined common support for a peace-making conference following the principles of the Geneva communiqué8. On the other hand, despite the common stance of the EU, Member States have differing opinions on how to best address the issue. While the President of France, François Hollande, emphasises the importance of maintaining the possibility for a military intervention in order to pressure the Syrian regime, the British Parliament has clearly rejected Prime Minister Cameron’s plans to join possible US-led military actions.9 The more active approaches undertaken so far include restrictive measures such as the prohibition to import weapons, a restriction of certain exports, ban on investment in the oil industry and financial restrictions for the Syrian National Bank. 1 Syria Civil War Fast Facts – CNN International Edition 2 European External Action Service – EEAS, Syria 3 China and Russia veto UN resolution condemning Syria – CNN Middle East 4 Syria chemical attack: What we know – CNN International Edition 5 Syrian chemical weapons attack a war crime, says EU – The Guardian 6 US credits Syria’s Assad over chemical weapons destruction - BBC 7 U.S. and Russia Reach Deal to Destroy Syria’s Chemical Arms – The New York Times 8 Final communiqué of the Action Group for Syria - Geneva, Saturday 30 June 2012, UNOG 9 Syria crisis: Cameron loses Commons vote on Syria action - BBC
Also the EU is one of the main donors aiming at the protection of civilians; hence the EU has already allocated almost 860 million euro to humanitarian and non-humanitarian assistance to Syrians inside and outside the country.10 The situation analysed above raises a number of fundamental questions for the future of the relations between the Middle East and Europe. Should the EU become more active in engaging in interventions of armed conflicts? Should the EU and its Member States directly support the opposition and how should the granted means be secured not to end up in the wrong hands? Moreover, seeing that Russia and Iran openly side with the current Syrian regime how can a further escalation of the conflict be avoided in case of more active EU engagement? Taking into account the reluctance of most oppositional parties to negotiate with Assad’s government, is a solely political solution realistic? Keywords Human rights, Syrian civil war, refugees, military interventions, United Nations Security Council (UNSC), Geneva communiqué, chemical attack in Ghouta, trade sanctions, oppositional parties Links for further research EU – Syria Relations: An Overview, European External Action Service Factsheet, EU’s Stance Towards the Syrian Civil War, European Council 8 Things to Consider Before Intervening in Syria, European Council on Foreign Affairs EU arms embargo on Syria, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute Syria conflict: Chemical arms experts cross border – BBC France’s Hollande hints at arming Syrian rebels – France24.com Free Syrian Army Chief: ’Why Is the West Just Looking On?’ – Der Spiegel EU governments ease Syria sanctions on oil to help rebels – Reuters Guide to the Syrian opposition - BBC
10 The European Union and Syria, Factsheet – European Council
3. Committee on Culture and Education – CULT Chairpersons: Madlaina Michelotti (CH), Dimitris Zacharias (GR) With research confirming that 1 in 5 young people are experiencing a mental health problem at any one time, what steps can European governments take to support positive mental health for young people? Overview Mental health problems are medical conditions that cause one to think, feel and behave differently; such behaviours may originate from neurotic or psychotic symptoms1. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) mental health is “a state of well-being in which the individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully,2 and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”. Diagnosing mental health problems and providing support to those suffering from them remains challenging; people who suffer from mental health problems attribute such conditions to character weakness and refuse to participate in supportive programmes. Young people between the ages of 15 and 25 undergo a lot of changes concerning their health, social life and education, making it all the more necessary to provide a stable support system for those who suffer from mental health problems. Furthermore, evidence proposes that stress associated with familial, societal and economic situations also influences youth mental health.3 Failure to treat and cure mental health problems can have calamitous effects on those experiencing the effects of such conditions. Unequal access to education and employment opportunities, distress in social aspects such as personal relationships, academic achievements and the overall well-being4 of individuals are some of the most prominent examples of such effects. Mental health problems can also lead to further health issues, such as drug abuse ranging from using intravenous drugs to violating prescribed medication regimens. However, the negative impacts of mental health problems do not solely affect the individuals suffering from them but also extend to their social environment. The potential harm in societal terms is also noteworthy, as violence and imprisonment rates increase causing further financial strain.5 Information-sharing on the promotion, prevention, care and treatment of mental health problems has increased significantly. Services are limited and patients are often subject to neglect and abuse in larger mental health institutions. The availability of care and psychotropic drugs varies significantly among countries, along with the amount of mental health training provided to medical professionals. Countries located in Europe experience limited budget; an average of 5.8% of their total health expenditure (ranging between 0.1% to 12%) with most of it used for services and not for promotion and prevention.6 Many mental health organisations are currently working towards allowing further access to information regarding mental health conditions. In the European Union (EU), for example, the ProYouth7 initiative and Mental Health Europe8 promote mental health by raising awareness, providing assistance, tips, support and health care. On a policy-making level, the WHO, which has an established European Regional office, puts together health indicators and statistics that have been assessed and analysed.9 On a regional scale, the Committee of the Regions, consisting of representatives from regional 1 “What Are Mental Health Problems?” 2 Mental Health: Strengthening Our Response.” World Health Organisation. 3 “Young People and Mental Health: Prevention and Early Intervention in Europe” 4 “Mental Health and Mental Disorders.” Healthy People. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 5 “Module 1: Introduction to Global Mental Health: Effects of Mental Health on Individuals and Populations 6 “Mental Health: Facing the Challenges, Building Solutions.” World Health Organisation 7 ”What Is ProYouth?” ProYouth 8 “About Mental Health Europe.”Mental Health Europe. European Commission
9 ”Data and Evidence.”World Health Organisation
and local governments, provides opinions on European legislation concerning mental health problems.10 Intervention should be intersectoral, focusing on policies and programmes provided by the government to those experiencing mental health problems; intervention should address education, labour, justice, transport, environment, housing and welfare sectors along with targeted preventative measures and improved treatment within the health sector.11 Governments should focus on joint actions so as to establish an environment that values fundamental human rights. Thus, individuals will be provided with a sense of security and freedom which, in turn, promotes positive mental health. How can European governments address the effects of mental health problems both on the individual and societal fronts? Is intersectoral action advised and, if so, how effective can such action be in addressing individuals who experience such conditions? Keywords Youth mental health problems, stigma, social burden, productivity loss, financial strain, mental health promotion/prevention/assistance/treatment, mental healthcare, limited budget, intersectoral intervention, collective government action Links for further research About Mental Health Europe Mental Health and Mental Disorders Introduction to Global Mental Health WHO Europe and Mental Health World Health Organisation.”Promoting Mental Health.” “Young People and Mental Health: Prevention and Early Intervention in Europe.” “Bringing Mental Health Into Development.” Forbes. Croucher, Shane. “Mental Health: Europe’s Biggest Firms Join Forces to Tackle Costly Workplace
10 “About COR.”European Union Committee of the Regions 11 World Health Organisation.”Promoting Mental Health.”World Health Organization
4. Committee on Employment and Social Affairs I – EMPL I Chairpersons: Roksolana Pidlasa (UA), Ada Aadeli (FI) The challenge of dramatically high youth unemployment rates: How should European governments best offer opportunities to those aged 16–24 to ensure that the current generation of European youth does not become irreversibly excluded from the labour market? Overview “Youth unemployment is the most pressing issue facing Europe.” - Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany Youth unemployment is one of the most prominent issues on the European Union (EU) agenda. Several Member States have already taken policy actions to address the issue of rampant unemployment among the young population. In Germany, for example, the youth unemployment rate is at 7.7%; one of the lowest in the EU. The contrast to Mediterranean countries, such as Spain, Italy and Greece is staggering; the respective rate in Greece reaching a record 61.5% in June 20131.The percentage of unemployed young people in Greece is, on average, triple the general unemployment rate across Europe. The consequences of such high youth unemployment rates are severe both on the economic and the social dimensions. For individuals, long-term unemployment leads to gradual loss of qualification, decreases the chances to be employed in the future and could potentially result in social exclusion. Moreover, rampant unemployment can have calamitous effects on society as a whole, as diminishing tax revenues do not suffice to finance unemployment benefits for those in need of such arrangements. The international economic slowdown has taken an extra toll on Member States’ efforts to correct for increasing youth unemployment. Several effects of the crisis, such as the reduced production capacity and the consequent drop in labour force demand, accentuate the current trend of increasing unemployment among the youth. However, high unemployment rates shall be viewed not only as a result of stagnation, but also as indicators of inefficient allocation and use of resources by the government. Unable to maximise the output of production, Member States face a decrease of their respective competitiveness in the market. The European Commission reports that there are 1.85 million unfilled vacancies in the EU2, especially in the Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) sector. The EU is faced with structural unemployment, which occurs when workers available on the labour market mismatch employers’ demand. Certain sectors (such as management, jurisprudence, diplomacy, etc.) are oversaturated by prospective competitors; others lack trained and skilled workforce. The European Commission, through the European Social Fund (ESF), is supporting youth employment initiatives. The Youth Employment Programme by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) is also being practised within Europe. Moreover, in April 2012, the European Commission created the “Employment Package”3, focussing on concrete measures to boost the level of employment in the Member States. Unlike previous educational programmes, the new “Package” contains specific economic recommendations intended to support job creation. Among other suggestions, the European Commission proposes governments include the development of areas where a significant amount of workplaces could be created in their National Job Plans. Yet, the determination of which professions are going to be potentially highly demanded in the future remains one of the biggest challenges in fulfilling the “Package” conditions.
1 Eurostat Data release (June 2013) 2 European Vacancy Monitor No 8 (01/03/2013) by European Commission 3 “Commission presents new measures and identifies key opportunities for EU job-rich recovery”
In order for government intervention – through policy management – to be successful and alleviate the negative effects of high unemployment rates among the youth it should be aimed at striking a balance between measures intended for further social inclusion of the youth and economic policies that will boost the job market and allow for development. How would the EU and the respective Member States attempt to mitigate the influence of the economic crisis on the labour market? What role should the EU and Member States assume in tackling the problem of unemployment in its Member States? What further steps are to be taken to integrate millions of abandoned youngsters into the labour market and, consequently, achieve a higher level of social cohesion? Keywords Youth unemployment, business cycles, cyclical unemployment, structural unemployment, ESF, Employment Package, National Job Plans, ILO Youth Employment Programme. Links for further research Definition of Unemployment and Youth Unemployment Indicators - Eurostat Macroeconomic Background - Understanding Employment Summaries of EU Legislation - Employment and Social Policy: Community Employment Policies – Europa.eu Future Consequences of Youth Unemployment - “The jobless young” - The Economist Youth Unemployment in Europe: Guaranteed to Fail - The Economist Youth unemployment in Mediterranean Europe - The Economist Europe takes steps to tackle youth unemployment - The Guardian Mixed reactions to EU’s ‘job strategy’ - The Parliament
5. Committee on International Trade – INTA Chairpersons: Christos Papadogeorgopoulos (GR), Mico Sjöberg (FI) Exporting for growth: with small and medium size enterprises building the backbone of the EU economy, how can the EU further promote the internationalization of SMEs in order to help them access international trading markets? Overview Totalling to over 99% of the amount of European businesses, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) dominate the European economy. These businesses provide the lion’s share of the jobs and largely contribute to overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of European Union (EU) Member States1. Despite the crucial role they play in the economy of the EU, SMEs often face different obstacles in the respective domestic markets that hamper their sustainability; such obstacles include the difficulty of access to finance, the high costs of labour, the lack of qualified labour and the limited access to consumers. Such obstacles do not allow SMEs to reap the benefits of economies of scale2. Internationalisation is proven not only to help SMEs in overcoming the aforementioned barriers but also bring further concrete benefits. These, among others, include the reinforcement of the competitive advantage leading to increased efficiency of production and quality of production output. Additionally, internationalisation gives SMEs an opportunity to occupy a bigger market share, and hence seek to expand their production capacities. Increase of production capacities, in turn, creates an inevitable need of investment into R&D so as to positively impact their domestic economies. Currently only very few European SMEs are operating outside the EU. The EU has a proactive position towards SMEs’ internationalisation. To begin with, two studies carried out by the European Commission in 2003 and 2007 seemed to show considerably different pictures on the degree of internationalisation of European SMEs3. Therefore, in 2009 the European Commission launched the project “Internationalisation of European SMEs”, in an attempt to provide an up-to-date overview of the barriers that hinder the international involvement of European SMEs and to come up with policy recommendations based on these problems. Conclusions have indeed been made, and among others, it was emphasised that each company must be provided with an individualised support and that any new programme to support internationalisation must be demand-driven and adaptable. “Small Business, Big World” is the name of the European Commission’s strategy, which is targeted on helping SMEs seize global opportunities4. In order to achieve that goal, the strategy set out six fields of action; namely (1) strengthening and mapping the existing supply of support services, (2) creating a single virtual gateway to information for SMEs, (3) making support schemes at EU level more consistent, (4) promoting clusters and networks for SME internationalisation, (5) rationalising new activities in priority markets and (6) leveraging existing EU external policies, in accordance with the Europe 2020 Strategy. It can be thus concluded that certain measures have already been taken on the EU level in order to help the SMEs reach the international financial markets. However, there are still questions to consider. Why were some of the abovementioned actions fruitful whereas others were not? How can the EU further help SMEs access international financial markets? Who should be involved in this process? Should the EU solely be in charge of promoting the internationalisation or should local 1 “Facts and figures about the EU´s Small and Medium Enterprise (SME)”. European Commission. Enterprise and Industry. 2 Economies of Scale refer to the cost advantages of a company producing a product in larger quantities so that each unit costs less to make. reputation for customer relations can all be value drivers. Suggested further reading: QFinance, The Ultimate Financial Resource, Online Financial Dictionary. 3 “Internationalisation of European SMEs”. European Commission. Enterprise and Industry. 4 ‘Small Business, Big World a new partnership to help SMEs seize global opportunities’. (2011) European Commission. Press Release Database.
governments take a more active role? Which are the most attractive, high-return international markets for SMEs? Keywords Access to finance, competitiveness, economies of scale, Free Trading Area, internationalisation of European SMEs, production efficiency, protectionism, R&D, SME, Small Business-Big World, technical know-how, transaction costs Links for further research Europe 2020: A European Strategy for Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth. (2010, March). European Commission. European Commission. Enterprise and Industry. Fact and figures about the EU´s Small and Medium Enterprise. (SME) Internationalisation of European SMEs. (2010) European Commission. Enterprise and Industry Observatory of European SMEs. (2007, May). European Commission. European Commission. Enterprise and Industry. Promoting international activities of SME. Study on Support Services for SMEs in International Business. (2013, March) European Competitiveness and Sustainable Industrial Policy Consortium. Supporting the Internationalisation of SMEs. European Commission. (2007, December) Top Barriers and Drivers to SME Internationalisation. OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship, SME and Local Development (CFE).
6. Committee on Industry, Research and Energy – ITRE Chairpersons: Riikka Nieminen (FI), Francesco Delorenzi (BE) 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 Approximately 30% of electricity in the European Union (EU) is generated at nuclear power plants. Currently, 14 EU Member States use a total of 132 nuclear reactors.1 Europe-wide, eleven nations use these facilities to generate more than one third of their electricity production. For France, this figure exceeds 75%.2 Each Member State is committed to follow common rules set by the EU in order to ensure safe and sustainable use of nuclear energy. Moreover, every Member State is allowed to decide on its respective nuclear policy and legislation as long as it is not opposing the common EU legislation. A thread connecting EU and national regulations is the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG)3. ENSREG assists the Member States on nuclear safety and develops guidelines for nuclear power exploitation which it communicates to the European Commission. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the world demand for energy will grow by 65% by 2020.4 With new nuclear power plants being built, the aggregate supply of the energy increases and reduces the price. Concurrently, the modernisation of the equipment increases the cost-efficiency of production which also makes energy more affordable to consumers. Under such circumstances, nuclear energy may be considered as one of the best answers to constantly growing energy demand within the EU. In March 2011 the Fukushima-Daiichi disaster demonstrated the negative effects that nuclear power plants have. Besides the inherent risk of a nuclear disaster, the issue of disposing radioactive waste remains one of the most serious disadvantages of nuclear energy exploitation. Radioactive tailings cannot be recycled and remain hazardous for tens of thousands of years. Thus, nuclear waste is to be stored indefinitely in high-security facilities. In 2010, the European Commission proposed a directive on “Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel Management” which instructs each Member State generating electricity through nuclear power plants to commit to a safe storing strategy for radioactive waste by 20155. Additionally, the supply of uranium-235, the fuel used in nuclear power generators, is highly limited. Currently, the majority of the uranium used in the EU6 comes from Russia and Canada. Estimations predict that uranium deposits7 will last approximately for the next 80 years, should consumption volumes remain stable. Taking into account all the disadvantages of nuclear energy production, the EU intends to increase the exploitation of renewable energy sources and increase the generation of electricity from the latter to 20% by 20208. Currently, the Nuclear safety: Safe operation of nuclear installations, radiation protection and radioactive waste management Nuclear Safeguards: Taking measures to ensure that operators use nuclear materials only for the officially declared purpose. Nuclear Security: Safety of nuclear facilities against attacks of any kind. 1 Nuclear power plants in the EU 2 Nuclear power in France 3 ENSREG 4 World Energy Prospect to 2020 5 European Commission: Nuclear waste management 6 EURATOM Annual Report 7 Supply of Uranium 8 The EU’s 2020 package
methods of producing electricity from renewable energy sources are not as efficient and as those used to produce the same amount of energy at nuclear power plants. Moreover, the cost of utilising energy production from renewable energy sources is higher that than of utilising energy generated at nuclear power plants. Nuclear power plants produce ‘dirty technology’; unsafe energy production procedures such as that of nuclear fission render energy production dangerous and potentially deadly for surrounding environments. However, a new way of producing nuclear energy emerged in the end of the 20th century; that of nuclear fusion. Many energy experts believe that nuclear fusion is the only reliable, environmentally-friendly way of producing “base-load” electricity. Taking into account the growing need of sustainable, cost-efficient and easily available energy, what role should the nuclear power play in the EU energy sector? Moreover, at times of resentment against the West and potential terrorist attacks, is it reasonable to build nuclear facilities bearing in mind the environmental catastrophe of an attack on a nuclear facility? These and other questions are to be considered when discussing EU Member States’ energy strategies. Keywords Sustainable energy resources, nuclear energy, ENSREG, Fukushima, nuclear waste, uranium, EU 2020 Energy Strategy, renewable energy resources, nuclear fission, nuclear fusion, ITER, “base-load” electricity Links for further research European Energy 2020 strategy – ‘A strategy for competitive, sustainable and secure energy’ Management of spent fuel and radioactive waste – Directive Overview Fusion for Energy’s brochure on Nuclear Fusion Nuclear energy – European Commission One giant leap for mankind: £13bn ITER project makes breakthrough in the quest for nuclear fusion – The Independent The international ITER project for fusion: Why? – ITER.org EU draws up plans to allow state aid for nuclear power – The Financial Times Nuclear power: leaks show new EU push – The Guardian Are nuclear plants safe from attack? - NBC
7. Committee on Regional Development I – REGI I Chairperson: Natalia Vagena (GR), Tuusa 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? Overview Secessionist movements defending independence and self-determination have begun to emerge across the European continent. The Scottish people are scheduled to vote on their independence from the United Kingdom in 2014. Their argument for this vote is founded on the assumption that the British parliament is underrepresenting the region in domestic politics. Another separatist movement is that of Catalonia in Spain. The people of Catalonia maintain that the Spanish have suppressed their culture since the times of Franco’s reign. The Flemish of Belgium, yet another example of secession movement, has received media attention as Belgium is essentially partitioned into North and South; tensions between the two have become increasingly clear. The emergence of these movements is fuelled by economic resentment; wealthier regions are eager to shake off less wealthy regions of the country. The former contend that tax revenue is invested in developing regions that struggle financially rather than being invested into the equitable development of wealthier regions. Should financial resentment be the main argumentation for such a secessionist movement, are there alternatives to solving these conflicts without resorting to popular votes on independence and potential secession? Would a potential independence allow these regions to become economically stable? European Union EU subsidies provided to struggling regions would allow for a more equitable development of both wealthy and poor regions; however, tensions regarding regional independence are oftentimes rooted in deeper conflicts stemming from history and cultural differences. Recent events regarding the aforementioned secessionist movements such as the demonstrations in Spain concerning the Catalan independence have placed this debate on the EU policy-making agenda. Should regions seeking autonomy be allowed to form sovereign states within EU territory? Secessionist movements maintain that the EU will continue to provide them with support should they be successful in their independence endeavours. The viewpoint of the EU is quite different from that of these secession movements. The lack of specific legal guidelines for centralised action in case of secession does not allow for a clear stance on the matter; this is a legal grey-area. Should new-born, sovereign regions that were formerly part of an EU Member State be automatically granted EU membership? Recent comments from high-ranking EU officials such as the EU commissioner Joaquín Almunia, suggest that perhaps it is not, and that all nations including ones annexed from other Member States would have to re-apply for membership. This could be a straining process for the potentially autonomous regions. Another important question arising from this debate relates to whether the EU should have a common policy towards all secession movements or if every case is to be dealt with in a situational context. Regardless of the EU’s ability to politically and legally sustain secessionist movements, such a precedent might allow for wider policy-room and foster further movements in numerous regions that are currently struggling because of centralised domestic policy. That could potentially lead to a domino effect in secessionist movement which would definitely add to the already rather volatile political environment of the Union. Political conflicts relating to secession are evident throughout the European continent; Kosovo’s struggle for independence and autonomy has been widely covered by international media. Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Spain refuse to recognise Kosovo’s independence fearing that such recognition will encourage separatist movements in their own countries. Should the EU allow for such debates, and if yes, to what extent can the EU provide legal and political legitimacy to secessionist movements? Should regions be granted autonomy, what should be the conditions allowing for such a decision and how can these regions remain integrated in the EU? With fears of a widespread domino-effect of separatist movements,
should the EU take legal initiative to strike down such efforts for regional self-determination and sovereignty? Keywords Secession, EU Membership, regional separatism, sovereign state, legal jurisdiction, national (regional) self-determination, EU membership conditions Links for further research Europe: Stretched at the seams – The Financial Times Secessionist Movements in Europe – New Europe Online Towards a plausible EU response to breakaway regions – EU Observer Almunia Says Catalonia Would Need to Leave EU if it Secedes From Spain – The Wall Street Journal U.K. Warns Scotland on Breakaway – The Wall Street Journal Across Europe, leaders fear spectre of separatists breaking countries apart – The Guardian Analysis: Europe’s separatists gain ground in crisis - Reuters All eyes on Antwerp when it comes to Flemish independence – Euronews Brussels Bureau Catalan independence support seen rising - Euronews Catalonia’s parliament adopts declaration of sovereignty - Euronews
8. Committee on Regional Development II – REGI II Chairperson: Tim Backhaus (FI) 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 cofinancedby 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.
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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 Legislative proposals for the Cohesion Funds (2014-2020) Key statistics on the Cohesion Funding An article about the effect of Regional Policy on economic crisis An article about the necessity of the EU Regional Policy An article about the proposal for the simplification of the cohesion policy
as Blackberry devices.13 Another case worth mentioning is Apple’s recent engagement in biometric technology, incorporating fingerprint scanners into their iPhones, which has raised vast privacy concerns.14 Mass surveillance would be intensified in case of leakage of such data to the intelligence agencies.15 The European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA)16, which was established in 2004 is in charge of the improvement of network and information security (NIS). ENISA is helping the European Commission, the Member States, the private sector and European citizens to address and prevent NIS problems. For example, in 2012 it launched a campaign called the European Cyber Security Month (ECSM)17 and it is expected to be further developed this year by involving more countries. The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS)18 is devoted to the protection of privacy and personal data processed by EU institutions. It provides advice on policies and legislation concerning privacy. In the case of EU citizens’ privacy infringement, the EDPS “can order the institution or body concerned to correct, block, erase or destroy any of your personal data that has been unlawfully processed”. 19 Where does our right to privacy protection stand and how can it be upheld? Is fear of security breach enough of a justification for such surveillance? How should the EU act so that national security protection and citizens’ privacy are equally maintained? How far can governments reach in security infringement concerns? Keywords NSA, GCHQ, intelligence agency, mass surveillance disclosure/exposure/revelation, PRISM, privacy breaches, Network and Information Security (NIS) Links for further research Digital Agenda for Europe – A Europe 2020 Initiative, Newsroom and Recommended Reading Commission Proposal for a Directive concerning measures to ensure a high common level of network and information security across the Union – European Commission 2013/0027 (COD) European Commission Demands Answers about Prism Data Request - BBC NSA spied on European Union offices – Der Spiegel Europe Aims to Regulate the Cloud – The New York Times
13 NSA can spy on smart phone data 14 About iPhone’s fingerprint sensor and Apple’s use of biometric technology 15 NSA can spy on smart phone data 16 The official page of ENISA 17 The official page of ECSM 18 The official page of EDPS 19 The EDPS
Tampere 2013 – Regional Session of EYP Finland is supported by
Rantatien Öljykeskus European Youth Parliament Finland has received funding from the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in 2013.
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