EPRS book talk: ‘The art and craft of political speechwriting’

Written by Isabelle Gaudeul-Ehrhart,

The recent EPRS book talk centred on the art and craft of political speechwriting, a subject that aroused a good deal of interest. More than 200 people – MEPs, assistants, and staff of the European Parliament and other institutions – came to listen to one of the authors of ‘The Political Speechwriter’s Companion‘.

Eric Schnure, former speechwriter to Vice-President Al Gore, was in conversation with Gaby Umbach, from the European University Institute, here as moderator, and Isabelle Gaudeul‑Ehrhart, from EPRS, as the discussant.

Gaby Umbach introduced the conversation by framing it within the series of EPRS events and against the historical and current political backdrop. Eric Schnure then shared his experience of what makes a good speech, starting with his own experience of two speeches, one by President Reagan, the other by Vice-President Gore – a speech that would later evolve into the film ‘An inconvenient truth’. Both these speeches grew from a very small, specific element that was then shown to be relevant to everyone. The best speeches are the ones that are meaningful for the audience. Schnure then reflected on the level of the current political debate, in an age of instant communication and soundbites, and warned the audience against being too quick to blame social media.

EPRS book talk: ‘The art and craft of political speechwriting’

As the discussant, Isabelle Gaudeul-Ehrhart first questioned whether speech writing and delivery are skills that can be learnt. Having explained that they can, referring to both extracts from the book and to her own experience, she then asked whether these skills are inherently American. Building on the authors’ experience of giving training in Europe, Asia and Africa, and touching on the history of rhetoric in Europe, from Ancient Greece to the present day, she concluded that the discipline is definitely not uniquely American but rather was born in Europe and resonates worldwide. Finally, she explored the reasons for the book’s emphasis on ethics.

Eric Schnure confirmed that, even if certain features can be very American (e.g. inviting a surprise guest to be present in the audience), the art of powerful speeches is universal and is ultimately about how we can relate to each other in society. On ethics, Schnure expressed his view that the sheer volume of lies in current political discourse is unprecedented, but argued, by contrast, that very little work is necessary to show a fallacious argument for what it really is.

EPRS book talk: ‘The art and craft of political speechwriting’

Speeches are universal and so is storytelling. Once again, whereas Americans are more prone to telling stories in their speeches, that does not make storytelling an American-only feature. European leaders do tell stories as well and often with much impact.

The conversation included several questions from the audience on recent trends, including on how jokes can be risky whereas wit is reliable, the importance of treating your audience with respect, and the multicultural and multilingual dimensions of speeches at European level. The net result was to reveal a lively interest in a discipline that was born in Europe more than 2 000 years ago and is still very much needed in politics today.

The book talk concluded with a consideration of the relevance of these skills for speakers and speechwriters in the EU, and of this book for the European Parliament and its Research Service.

EPRS book talk: ‘The art and craft of political speechwriting’

Eric Schnure – Gaby Umbach – Isabelle Gaudeul-Ehrhart

A recording of the book talk can be found here.


Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/11/13/eprs-book-talk-the-art-and-craft-of-political-speechwriting/

IMF launches latest European Regional Economic Outlook, at the EPRS

Written by Marcin Grajewski,

Taking the already excellent relations between the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) to an even higher level, the IMF chose to launch its ‘European Regional Economic Outlook’ during an EPRS event on the direction of Europe’s economy in a global context on 6 November 2019. This first joint EPRS-IMF policy roundtable was also a new opportunity for the IMF to make a first presentation of a flagship, market-moving publication on EPRS premises, and took place in the European Parliament’s Library Reading Room. The event, entitled ‘Where next for the European Economy: The latest IMF European Regional Outlook in a global context’, discussed the short and medium-term future of the European economy in a global context, which is marred by a trade conflict between China and the United States, as well as uncertainty about the world’s rules-based economic and political order.

According to the IMF report, as in the rest of the world, European trade and manufacturing have weakened, with signs that the slowdown is spreading to the rest of the economy. The optimistic signal is that services and consumption remain relatively resilient in line with strong labour markets and looser financial conditions that support domestic demand. However, investment is starting to lose steam. The IMF therefore predicts that growth will moderate from 2.3 % in 2018 to 1.4 % in 2019, its lowest rate since 2013. In 2020, growth is projected to recover modestly, to 1.8 %, as international trade is expected to rebound. Nevertheless, if trade disputes remain unresolved, the outlook could darken.

‘We are currently in a synchronised global slowdown and Europe is no exception. Manufacturing and trade have weakened considerably … Consumption remains relatively resilient’, noted Poul Thomsen, Director of the European Department at the IMF, presenting the report.

The IMF advises those countries who can afford to do so to implement fiscal stimuli, while highly indebted countries should move towards the EU-mandated Medium Term Objectives, which encourage them to adjust their structural budgetary positions at a rate of 0.5 % of GDP per year as a benchmark. The European Central Bank policy should remain accommodative, although caution is required thanks to strong labour markets and wage growth in some countries.

Othmar Karas, Vice-President of the European Parliament, in charge of relations, among others, with the IMF, opened the conference with a scene-setting speech, while Anthony Teasdale, ERPS Director-General, moderated the event. Other members of the panel included Robert Holzmann, Governor of the Austrian Central Bank, and Maria Demertzis, Deputy Director at the Bruegel think tank.


Vice-President Karas acknowledged that the European economic situation is not rosy. ‘The trade conflict, from which the USA has not spared Europe, lowers productivity by disrupting supply chains, causes turmoil on financial markets and reduces investment due to uncertainty. Foreign direct investment abroad by advanced economies came almost to a standstill’, he said. However, he noted that the EU is now stronger and more resilient than in the wake of the financial crisis, when some said that the euro area was in an existential crisis. ‘Our economy has grown for seven consecutive years, creating 14 million jobs. We mobilised considerable investment resources through the “Juncker Fund”‘ he said. Karas added that, in his role of Vice-President responsible for information policy, press and relations with citizens, he plans to organise a series of public seminars in national capitals, with the participation of organisations such as the IMF and the World Bank, to raise awareness of the common challenges and facilitate cooperation among governments.

Commenting on the IMF presentation, the President of the Central Bank of Austria, Robert Holzmann, offered an insightful analysis of the ECB’s monetary policies, and Bruegel’s Maria Demertzis pointed to several conundrums in the European economy. She explained that those countries that should stimulate their economies fiscally, cannot afford to do so; while those who do, should not do so in the short-term to avoid pro-cyclical policy. However, they could devise mid- or long-term investment plans. The impact of the ECB’s unconventional monetary measures, on the other hand, have not been studied enough. ‘In fiscal policy we do not have much space, and on monetary policy, if you decide to do some more, you will have to do it basically with your eyes closed’, according to Demertzis. Creating a substantial fiscal capacity at the level of the euro would be a good idea, but there is little political appetite for the move.

The next joint EPRS-IMF event is planned for the first semester in 2020.

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Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/11/12/imf-launches-latest-european-regional-economic-outlook-at-the-eprs/

European Parliament Plenary Session November I 2019

Written by Clare Ferguson,

While the agenda for the European Parliament’s November I mini plenary session, to be held in Brussels on Wednesday, 13 and Thursday, 14 November, may at first glance look a little sparse, Members still have a busy week ahead, with hearings scheduled for Thursday for the three remaining Commissioners-designate.

EP building in Brussels

© Architectes : Vandenbossche SPRL, CRV S.A., CDG S.P.R.L., Studiegroep D. Bontinck, ©Façade et Hémicycle – Arch M. Boucquillon Belgium – European Union 2019 – Source : EP

With the three candidates’ declarations of financial interests having satisfied the Legal Affairs Committee on 12 November, the first full hearing to take place will be that of Olivér Várhelyi, candidate for the neighbourhood and enlargement portfolio (before the Foreign Affairs Committee at 08:00 on 14 November). Currently Hungary’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the EU, Várhelyi, a lawyer, has long experience of working on EU affairs. The hearing before the Transport and Tourism Committee for Adina Vălean, a long-standing (since the country’s accession in 2007) Romanian Member of the European Parliament and the current Chair of the Industry, Research and Energy Committee, follows at 13:00. Candidate for the transport portfolio, Vălean has experience, as rapporteur, of related files, such as the e-Call legislation and Connecting Europe Facility. At the same time, the hearing for Thierry Breton, an accomplished businessman, academic and author and the French candidate for the internal market portfolio, will take place before the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, and Industry, Research and Energy committees jointly. Should the respective committees agree that the three Commissioners-designate are ready to take up these portfolios, a vote in Parliament’s plenary to confirm the 2019-2024 Commission as a whole would be expected to take place in Strasbourg on 27 November, allowing the von der Leyen Commission to take office on 1 December, one month later than planned.

As the previous Commission meanwhile continues as a caretaker administration, little new business is arriving with Parliament for scrutiny. Nonetheless, Parliament will still consider some highly topical issues. The first of these is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, when Parliament will mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in the presence of Wolfgang Schäuble, the President of the German Bundestag. The swift reunification of the German nation, which took less than a year, was followed closely by the European Parliament of the time. The former German Democratic Republic was able to integrate into the European Economic Community through a special procedure, with a Temporary Committee set up by Parliament. That committee emphasised the opportunities of German reunification to foster greater European integration, to prevent undermining of the single market, and to take the wider context of relations with central and eastern Europe into account, all of which remain key issues for the EU today.

Members will also mark the 30th anniversary (on 20 November) of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child on Wednesday (and will vote on a resolution during the November II session), with Council and Commission statements on EU action in this field. The convention was the first international treaty to recognise children as human beings with innate rights. Since its entry into force in 1990, conditions for children have improved, but child poverty in the EU remains a reality, especially for disadvantaged groups, and the EU is helping to tackle child poverty under the Europe 2020 strategy. Nevertheless, children’s rights are also a priority issue in EU external action, where following up on the UN Sustainable Development Goals means placing a fundamental emphasis on healthy, well-nourished and protected children as the basis for a long-term sustainable society. Migrant families are often among those groups where children are disadvantaged, and migration to the EU returns to the Parliament agenda on Thursday morning, with Council and Commission statements on the situation of migrants in Bosnia and in the hotspots on the Greek islands.

Finally, the outgoing Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, is due to make a statement on Turkish drilling activities in EU waters in the Eastern Mediterranean. An increase in offshore gas exploration and exploitation in the region has long been predicted, but dispute has arisen between Cyprus and Turkey regarding drilling in the Cypriot economic exclusion zone.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/11/12/european-parliament-plenary-session-november-i-2019/

Get in touch with the European Parliament

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The European Parliament regularly receives enquiries from citizens about how to contact the European Parliament, its Members and its departments. If you have a question, who should you contact?

Citizens’ enquiries

The Citizens’ Enquiries Unit (Ask EP) provides general information about the European Parliament and its activities, powers and structure. You can contact AskEP through this online form or through the Citizens’ App.

Liaison offices

The European Parliament Liaison Offices in EU countries provide the public with information and organise lectures, campaigns and debates on European issues. Citizens, stakeholders and media can contact them directly for local information.


If you have a complaint or a request on an issue that falls within the European Union’s fields of activity, every EU citizen or legal resident has the right to submit a petition to the European Parliament, under Article 227 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The Parliament’s Committee on Petitions examines these petitions and decides on their admissibility.

Citizens and residents can submit a new petition or support existing ones through the petitions web portal, which also contains instructions on how to submit petitions in paper format.

Members and the President

Each Member of the European Parliament provides a wealth of information, including contact details, on their profile page on the European Parliament website. You can find individual members’ profile pages through this search page, using various filters to search by country or political group.

The President of the European Parliament’s contact information is available on the President’s webpage.

Political groups, committees and delegations

Members of the European Parliament can form political groups, organised based on political affinity rather than nationality. The political groups webpage contains links to the external websites of individual political groups.

Parliamentary committees propose amendments on legislative proposals and draft own-initiative reports in preparation for consideration in the plenary assembly. The committees webpage provides information about all standing, temporary and special parliamentary committees. A contact address for each committee secretariat is available on the right-hand column of each committee page.

The European Parliament’s delegations maintain relations and exchange information with parliaments in non-EU countries. Information on their members and their activities is available on the delegations webpage. Each delegation page gives a contact address for the delegation secretariat.


The webmaster is responsible for the functioning of the European Parliament’s internet pages (Europarl). Use the online form to report technical problems, remarks and suggestions regarding the Europarl website.

Keep sending your questions to the Citizens’ Enquiries Unit (Ask EP)! We reply in the EU language that you use to write to us.

Further information

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/11/12/get-in-touch-with-the-european-parliament/

Revising the fisheries control system [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Irina Popescu,

© oslobis / Fotolia

On 30 May 2018, the European Commission issued a proposal to revise the fisheries control system by modernising and simplifying the monitoring of fisheries activities, improving the enforcement and updating a control system that was conceived before the 2013 CFP reform. The revision centres on the amendment of the Control Regulation 1224/2009. The proposal introduces requirements for more complete fisheries data, including an electronic tracking system for all fishing vessels, fully digitised reporting of catches with electronic logbooks and landing declarations applicable to all vessels, and catch-declaration rules for recreational fisheries. It improves traceability through digitalised identification and declaration along the supply chain for all fishery and aquaculture products, whether from EU fisheries or imported. The enforcement rules are thoroughly revised, with a common list of activities defined as serious infringements and corresponding sanctions, as well as a strengthened point system. The proposal also revises the mandate of the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA), to fully align its objectives with the CFP and to upgrade its inspection powers, and Regulation 1005/2008 on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, to introduce a digital catch certification scheme for imported fishery products.


Stage: EESC

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/11/08/revising-the-fisheries-control-system-eu-legislation-in-progress/

Ocean governance and blue growth: Challenges, opportunities and policy responses

Written by Frederik Scholaert,

Very large passenger ship and a small sailboat pass offshore wind turbines near the Oresund Bridge between Denmark and Sweden

© balipadma/ Fotolia

Oceans cover more than two thirds of the earth and are a vital element of life on our planet. Not only are they a primary source of food, they are also central to the carbon cycle; they regulate the climate and produce most of the oxygen in the air we breathe. They also play an important socio-economic role. The ‘blue economy’, covering traditional sectors such as fisheries, extraction of oil and gas, maritime transport and coastal tourism, as well as new, fast-growing industries such as offshore wind, ocean energy and blue biotechnology, shows great potential for further economic growth, employment creation and innovation.

At the same time, oceans face pressures, mainly associated with the over-exploitation of resources, pollution and the effects of climate change. In recent years, ocean pollution from plastics has received more attention from the public and has been high on policy-makers’ agendas.

At global level, the European Union is an active player in protecting oceans and shaping ocean governance. It has made progress by taking measures in a series of areas: maritime security, marine pollution, sustainable blue economy, climate change, marine protection, and sustainable fisheries; by working towards the United Nations 2030 Agenda sustainable development goal on oceans; and by taking part in negotiations on a new international legally binding instrument on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. In encouraging the blue economy, the EU also recognises the environmental responsibilities that go along with it. Healthy, clean oceans guarantee the long-term capacity to sustain such economic activities, while a natural decline threatens the ecosystem of the planet as a whole and ultimately, the well-being of our societies. The conservation of marine biological resources under the common fisheries policy, EU action under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the establishment of marine protected areas are key EU policies when it comes to protecting the marine environment. They are complemented by recent environmental legislation such as the Directive on single-use plastics to reduce marine litter.

Read this briefing on ‘Ocean governance and blue growth: Challenges, opportunities and policy responses‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/11/06/ocean-governance-and-blue-growth-challenges-opportunities-and-policy-responses/

European Parliament and the path to German reunification

Written by Christian Salm,

© neftali / Shutterstock

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, set in motion by the events of 9 November 1989, which led to Germany’s full reunification within less than a year. The accession of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) to the Federal Republic of Germany (Federal Republic) completed the reunification process on 3 October 1990. Moreover, with the accession of the former GDR to the Federal Republic, the GDR integrated into the European Economic Community (EEC) of the time via a special procedure. As the GDR’s status as a subject of international law ended with its accession to the Federal Republic, a normal EEC Treaty accession procedure was not possible. The European Parliament followed the chain of profound political developments triggered by the fall of the Berlin Wall closely.

1989 – A historical turning point

In the contemporary history of Europe and its integration process, 1989 was a crucial turning point. The fall of the Berlin Wall in November of that year was one of several events that launched democratic change in central and eastern Europe. Events in 1989 included: the end of the Hungarian communist power monopoly (January); Tadeusz Mazowiecki’s victory in partially free elections in Poland (June); overthrow of the Bulgarian Head of State and Party Leader Todor Zhivkov (November); the execution of Romanian President Nicolae Ceauşescu, and the election of human rights activist Václav Havel as President of Czechoslovakia (December). Nevertheless, the fall of the Berlin Wall particularly characterised 1989 as a historical turning point, signalling the end of the 50-year east-west conflict and the beginning of today’s free movement throughout Europe. At the time, the EEC was about to implement the goals of the 1986 Single European Act, the first major revision of the 1957 Treaty of Rome, and intended to establish the single market by December 1992. Against this background, the European Parliament paid particular attention in its debates and analyses regarding the far-reaching political changes in central and eastern Europe and the impact of the process of German unification on the EEC.

European Parliament response to the fall of the Berlin Wall

The European Parliament reacted quickly to the November 1989 events in Berlin. As the Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs was meeting in the Reichstag from 8 to 10 November, some Members of the European Parliament actually experienced the opening of borders between East and West Berlin at first-hand. In a public statement of 10 November, the Committee welcomed the GDR authorities’ decision to ease border crossings at the inner-German border. Due to uncertainty regarding whether borders might remain open, the Committee’s public statement also expressed the hope that the GDR authorities would abolish remaining restrictions on passenger transport at the inner-German border within a very short time.

Some days later, on 22 November 1989, the European Parliament held a plenary debate on the events in central and eastern Europe. The attendance of two members of the European Council, French President François Mitterrand and Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl, underpinned the high political relevance of this debate, with the fall of the Berlin Wall a prominent topic. In his speech, Kohl stated that ‘Germany will be completely united only if progress is made towards the unification of our old continent. Policy on Germany and policy on Europe are completely inseparable’. Kohl’s speech therefore clearly indicated that his enlargement policy was based on an awareness that a united Germany would need support from Europe and the EEC. The speech also aimed at allaying European partners’ fears that a united Germany would aspire to European hegemony.

A European Parliament resolution following the debate also included the message that German reunification and European integration were two sides of the same coin. It stressed that ‘having regard to recent developments in the GDR, and notably the opening of the Berlin Wall … the closer integration of the EEC will create the basis for closer cooperation with the states of Central and Eastern Europe … and closer ties between the German states’. To study the broader possible consequences of German reunification, especially with a view to the European integration process, the European Parliament set up a Temporary Committee to consider the impact of the German unification process on the EEC.

Temporary Committee to consider the impact of the process of German reunification on the EEC

Jacques Delors, President of the European Commission at the time, inspired the creation of the Temporary Committee, pointing out to the European Parliament in January 1990 that, given the special situation in the GDR after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it was conceivable that East Germany might rapidly integrate into the EEC. In response to this political assessment, Parliament decided to create a Temporary Committee tasked with analysing the impact of GDR integration into the EEC on the latter’s fields of activity, to make a constructive Community contribution to the German unification process, and to adapt the EEC itself to the new geopolitical landscape.

Set up in February 1990, the Temporary Committee consisted of 20 Members. Among them were three former foreign ministers: Claude Cheysson (France), Fernando Morán López (Spain), and Leo Tindemans (Belgium). Furthermore, former President of the European Parliament, Simone Veil (France), and former West German Ambassador to the United Nations, Rüdiger von Wechmar, sat on the committee. The inclusion of such major European political figures demonstrated the importance of the Temporary Committee within the European Parliament.

At its constituent meeting, the Temporary Committee drew up a plan of action enabling it to consider the institutional aspects of German reunification, the overall political context, and the impact on EEC sectoral policies. To cover these different areas, the Committee held discussions at its regular meetings with representatives of the governments of the GDR, the Federal Republic and even the United States and Soviet Union. Moreover, the Temporary Committee, with the help of the Parliament’s Directorate-General for Research, collected information and opinions on the situation in the GDR from across the political spectrum. These activities contributed to the work of the Committee’s rapporteur, Alan John Donnelly (United Kingdom), a Member of the Group of the European Socialists of the time. Parliament adopted Donnelly’s interim report in plenary in July 1990.

The report emphasised the need to bring about European integration in parallel with German reunification. It proposed to prevent derogations and transitional measures granted to the former GDR from weakening central EEC objectives, including the full achievement of the single market. Moreover, the report underlined the need to place the German reunification process within the wider context of relations with central and eastern Europe. The report argued that the GDR’s entry into the EEC could play an important bridge function with those countries. The report also looked at a number of other specific policy issues raised by German reunification, such as industrial and competition policy considerations, transport and telecommunications, energy and research, and economic and social cohesion. In addition, the report proposed to assign observer status in the European Parliament to representatives from the former GDR.

Representation of the former GDR in the European Parliament

The suggestion to give observer status to representatives of the GDR aimed at responding to the need to represent the 17 million inhabitants of East Germany in the EEC after the accession of the former GDR to the EEC. The Federal Republic refrained from both requesting additional Commissioners and greater voting power within the Council. However, it demanded representation for the East German Länder in the European Parliament. Complying with this demand raised two particularly problematic issues for the Parliament: First, any changes in the number of Members would have disturbed the balanced system of representation, according to the size of each country’s population but with an equal number of Members (81) for each of the EEC’s most populous countries (France, Italy, the United Kingdom and West Germany). Second, it would have been incompatible with democratic principles if, following German reunification, East German citizens were to be represented for a considerable period by Members they had not themselves elected. The solution found was to invite 18 non-voting Members from East Germany to the European Parliament as observers. Finally, in the 1994 election, the number of MEPs elected in Germany was increased by that amount. Current German Member, Constanze Krehl (S&D), was one of these East German observers from 1991 to 1994.

German reunification and European Union

The Temporary Committee adopted its final political report in November 1990. It again emphasised the need to pursue the process of German reunification in parallel with European integration. Moreover, the report stated that German reunification should be considered as a step towards European union. In fact, German reunification contributed to creating the momentum for the EEC leaders of the period to launch the December 1990 intergovernmental conference on European monetary union and political union, which concluded at the Maastricht Summit in December 1991, and the agreement to promulgate a new treaty on European Union.

Read this ‘at a glance’ on ‘European Parliament and the path to German reunification‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/11/05/european-parliament-and-the-path-to-german-reunification/

The powers of the European Parliament

Written by Laura Tilindyte,

EU flags waving in front of European Parliament building. Brussels, Belgium

© Grecaud Paul / Fotolia

Since its inception in 1951, the European Parliament has come a long way. Initially a consultative body composed of delegations of national parliaments, it became a directly elected institution, obtained budgetary and legislative powers, and now exercises influence over most aspects of EU affairs. Together with representatives of national governments, who sit in the Council, Parliament co-decides on European legislation, in what could be seen as a bicameral legislature at EU level. It can reject or amend the European Commission’s proposals before adopting them so that they become law. Together with the Council of the EU, it adopts the EU budget and controls its implementation.

Another core set of European Parliament prerogatives concerns the scrutiny of the EU executive – mainly the Commission. Such scrutiny can take many forms, including parliamentary questions, committees of inquiry and special committees, and scrutiny of delegated and implementing acts. Parliament has made use of these instruments to varying degrees. Parliament has the power to dismiss the Commission (motion of censure), and it plays a significant role in the latter’s appointment process.

Parliament has a say over the very foundations of the EU. Its consent is required before any new country joins the EU, and before a withdrawal treaty is concluded if a country decides to leave it. Most international agreements entered into by the EU with third countries also require Parliament’s consent. Parliament can initiate Treaty reform, and also the ‘Article 7(1) TEU’ procedure, aimed at determining whether there is a (risk of) serious breach of EU values by a Member State.

Read this briefing on ‘The powers of the European Parliament‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/11/05/the-powers-of-the-european-parliament/

STOA Panel gears up for the new parliamentary term

Written by Nera Kuljanic with Sophie Millar,

election of a Chair and two Vice-Chairs for the first half of the 9th parliamentary termDuring the latest plenary session in Strasbourg, on 24 October, MEPs appointed to the European Parliament’s Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA) held their first meeting to elect a Chair and two Vice-Chairs for the first half of the 9th parliamentary term. Eva Kaili, Greek MEP and member of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) Group in the European Parliament, will continue as Chair, carrying on from the last parliamentary term. She will work alongside Christian Ehler, a German MEP and member of the European People’s Party (EPP) Group, who was elected as First Vice-Chair of STOA, and Ivars Ijabs, Latvian MEP and member of the Renew Europe Group, who will serve as Second Vice-Chair. The meeting was chaired by Ewa Kopacz, Polish MEP, EPP member and European Parliament Vice-President responsible for STOA. The four MEPs, as members of the STOA Bureau, will work together with the other 21 STOA Panel members to support STOA’s mission: comprehensive monitoring and analysis of scientific and technological opportunities and challenges that are relevant for individual and societal progress and wellbeing.

In an ever-advancing and changing technological and scientific landscape, STOA is a vital platform for the European Parliament, constantly evolving to keep pace with developments. Through scientific foresight, technology assessment and horizon scanning, STOA provides timely assessments of techno-scientific trends to support Parliament’s committees, Members and their staff. These take the form of studies and other reports, but also events (workshops and Annual Lectures) and initiatives such as the MEP-Scientist Pairing Scheme. The net result is promoting scientific advice and dialogue as the foundation of well-informed policy decisions. The European Science-Media Hub (ESMH), under the remit of STOA, is also establishing itself as a recognised hub for direct interaction and exchange among policy-makers, journalists and other science communicators, and researchers. The ESMH promotes evidence-based practices for high-quality and trustworthy science communication through networking and training.

Highlights of the work conducted in the last parliamentary term include strategic foresight studies on robotics, precision agriculture, 3D bio-printing and assistive technologies, as well as technology assessment studies on topics linked to the information society, such as the General Data Protection Regulation, artificial intelligence, algorithms, disinformation, blockchain, harmful internet use, social polarisation, and the future of teaching and working. Sustainable management of natural resources was also a priority for STOA, examining subjects such as waste management, farming without agri-chemicals and climate change. The Panel also took an interest in health and the life sciences, with topics ranging from the Ebola outbreak, to food safety, organic food and brain research. Finally, activities relating to science policy and global networking included studies on technologies and the arts, on overcoming innovation gaps in the EU-13 Member States and on the internationalisation of EU research, and events organised jointly with the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), the European Research Council (ERC), the European Space Agency (ESA), the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the Science and Technology in Society (STS) forum and UNESCO, to name but a few.

Looking ahead to advances in science and technology and the political agenda for the next five years, the STOA Panel’s new Vice-Chair Christian Ehler predicted: “STOA will become an even more crucial instrument in the European Parliament. Now we might need STOA more than ever before”.

The STOA Panel meets regularly during the Parliament’s plenary sessions in Strasbourg. The meetings are announced on the STOA website, together with the webstreaming link and supporting documents. The new Panel will start its mandate with a discussion on the priorities and direction for STOA in the 9th parliamentary term at its meeting on 28 November 2019. The Panel Members are new, but the objective stays the same for STOA: to remain the European Parliament’s reference point for science-related advice, technology assessment and scientific foresight.


Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/10/31/stoa-panel-gears-up-for-the-new-parliamentary-term/

European Cyber Security Month

Written by Gregor Erbach,

Cyber Security. Combination padlock in electronic cyberspace. 3D rendered image.

© vitanovski / Fotolia

It is hard these days to imagine (or remember) life without smartphones and computers, without online services helping us with almost every aspect of our daily lives, be that at work – for communication and general productivity – or in our free time – for travel bookings, shopping, banking or entertainment … The list goes on. Meanwhile, more and more everyday objects can now be connected to the internet. Lightbulbs, televisions, refrigerators, vehicles, medical devices and industrial control systems are just a few examples of devices that can be linked up to the ‘internet of things’.

Naturally, these developments offer countless opportunities for new services and business models in the digital single market. However, at the same time they also represent new ways for cybercriminals and others to steal data, money and identities, spread disinformation, and generally cause serious physical and economic damage. These threats are on the increase, in terms of both scale and impact, and can sometimes affect critical infrastructure and democratic processes, heightening the need for thorough risk analysis and effective protection.

This is the backdrop to European Cyber Security Month, which is run every October by ENISA (the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security) together with the European Commission and other partners. The campaign first took place on a small scale in 2012 and has been growing ever since. It now involves hundreds of activities and events throughout the EU and beyond, with a view to reminding citizens of the risks and threats, raising awareness of how to protect against them, and spreading best practice.

The general message for this October’s European Cyber Security Month was that cyber security is everybody’s responsibility. This message was supported by two main themes: the first was ‘cyber hygiene’, helping the public to get into the good habits necessary to stay safe on line; the second focused on staying safe in the context of new and emerging technology.

Meanwhile, in September 2017, the Commission adopted a cybersecurity package with new initiatives to further improve EU cyber-resilience and prepare for the challenges ahead. More specifically, the co-legislators adopted the Cybersecurity Act in April 2019. This new regulation has given ENISA greater powers and introduced a European cybersecurity certification framework to reassure buyers of digital products and services and improve market access for suppliers. To promote and coordinate European cybersecurity research, the Commission is proposing to set up a cybersecurity competence centre and network. The European Parliament adopted its position on the proposal earlier this year and is now in negotiations with the Council.

So, how is your cyber hygiene? The European Parliament’s IT department put together a special quiz for European Cyber Security Month: why not click on the link and give it a try!

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/10/30/cybersecurity-month/