Who does what in security and defence?

Written by Tania Latici with Tristan Krause, EPLO Washington DC.

Geopolitical competition between rival nations and a complex security environment are threatening some of the core values of the transatlantic alliance. The institutions responsible for implementing EU and US security and defence policies aim to protect civilians and to promote rules-based conduct in external action. Against this backdrop, both the EU and US are undertaking significant strategic realignments, as the US shifts from counter-insurgency operations to competing with near-peer powers and the EU moves towards the objective of a defence union and strategic autonomy. Despite the historical transatlantic security and defence relationship, the institutional landscapes of the EU and the US are distinct and complex. This document seeks to give an overview of who does what in security and defence institutions on both sides of the Atlantic.

Background: Strategy and policy

The fundamental difference between the EU and US in their institutional organisation and conduct is that the US is an independent nation with its own defence agencies, whereas in defence policy the EU functions predominantly as an intergovernmental body with emerging elements of supranationalism, seeking to promote joint policies among its Member States. Since 1993, the EU’s collective foreign policy action has been governed by its common foreign and security policy (CFSP). A significant component of the CFSP is common security and defence policy (CSDP), the EU’s policy framework for external security action and defence cooperation and coordination between Member States. Member States are the driving force behind the CFSP and CSDP, with unanimous decisions required for actions in these policy areas. The 2016 EU Global Strategy offers strategic guidelines for foreign, security and defence policy priorities, and has inspired a flurry of successive EU-level defence integration initiatives. Seeking to become a more effective security and defence provider, the EU is working on a ‘strategic compass‘to advance a shared strategic understanding among its members. The EU and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have built a solid relationship, formalised in two joint declarations outlining common threats and an agenda for cooperation. NATO has welcomed the EU’s commitment to become a stronger defence actor. The US follows the national security strategy (NSS) produced by the executive branch. In March 2021, the Biden Administration released its interim NSS to guide future US foreign policy. The NSS is then refined into the national defence strategy (NDS). Updated every four years (most recently in 2018), the NDS is a comprehensive military planning guide and outlines how the US military will achieve the objectives laid out in the NSS. The US intelligence community traditionally presents an annual threat assessmentto Members of Congress, outlining global threats to US security. The US armed forces are currently conducting a global posture review to match strategy with resources and personnel. EU and US leaders evoked a wish to launch a dedicated dialogue on security and defence following the EU-US summit in June 2021.

Who does security and defence in the EU?

The European External Action Service (EEAS) is the EU’s diplomatic service, responsible for implementing CFSP and CSDP. Led by the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR), the EEAS operates the EU’s delegations abroad, coordinates intelligence among Member States, plans military and civilian CSDP missions and operations abroad (currently 17, soon to be 18), and incorporates the EU Military Staff, which provides military expertise. The Council of the EU (where Member States’ representatives negotiate policy) houses the EU Military Committee − composed of Member States’ chiefs of defence − and the Political and Security Committee, which are strategic actors in the formulation of the EU’s CSDP. EU defence ministers also meet in an informal context several times a year, as there is no formal Council configuration on this policy. The Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC) is the operational headquarters for the EU’s non-executive missions and can command one executive mission the size of an EU battlegroup, made up of units from Member States. The counterpart for the EU’s civilian CSDP missions is the Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability. The EU’s military CSDP missions are now financed through a new off-budget mechanism, the European Peace Facility, operational since July 2021. This instrument can also fund military assistance to partner countries. The European Defence Agency, headed by the HR, supports Member States in developing collaborative defence research and development by identifying gaps and stimulating the European defence industry. The EEAS and the EDA oversee intergovernmental permanent structured cooperation (PESCO), a framework launched in 2017 by 25 EU Member States to enhance military integration and defence cooperation between EU armed forces and industry. PESCO currently numbers 46 multinational projects covering the defence spectrum. One notable example is the project on military mobility, which aims to improve the movement of troops across and beyond Europe and with which the US has recently been associated. Prompted by the need for a more effective European defence industry, the EU has set up the European Defence Fund (EDF), funding defence research and capability development projects. The coordinated annual review on defence maps the EU’s defence landscape and identifies gaps to be targeted by future collaborative projects. The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Defence Industry and Space oversees the implementation of the EDF and promotes competitiveness and innovation in the European defence and space industries.

European Parliament: Role and responsibilities

Who does security and defence in the US?

The United States State Department oversees foreign policy and diplomatic engagement. The Department of Defense (DoD) is the largest US government agency, responsible for coordinating the branches of the armed forces and military intelligence agencies. Three departments within the DoD − the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force − direct the majority of the US service branches: the Army, the Marines, the Navy, the Air Force, and the Space Force, with the Coast Guard falling under the Department of Homeland Security. Most service branches also maintain a reserve component, and each of the 50 states equips an Army and Air National Guard that can be federalised in times of war or national emergency. Eleven different combatant commands manage military operations, including the US European Command headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany. The chiefs of staff for the service branches collectively make up the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the most senior planning and advisory body in the US military. Its chair also sits on the National Security Council, a forum of senior staff and agency secretaries that advises the President on matters of national security, military operations, and foreign policy. The DoD houses the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), whose purpose is to produce breakthrough technologies and innovation for the US military, and the National Security Agency (NSA), which collects and monitors signals intelligence for domestic security.

US Congress: Role and responsibilities

Read this ‘at a glance’ on ‘Who does what in security and defence?‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

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The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE): A pillar of the European security order [Policy Podcast]

Written by Martin Russell.

The OSCE’s origins go back to 1975, when the countries in the two opposing blocs in the Cold War signed the Helsinki Final Act, enshrining principles such as territorial integrity and respect for human rights. The act was followed by a series of follow-up meetings to monitor implementation, in a process known as the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE). Following the adoption of the 1990 Paris Charter envisaging a new post-Cold War European order, in 1995 the CSCE was put on a more permanent, institutional basis and renamed the OSCE.

The OSCE, like the CSCE before it, is based on a vision of ‘comprehensive security’ that encompasses human rights and economic cooperation, as well as traditional ‘hard’ security. However, hopes that the OSCE could become the central pillar of a new post-Cold War order faded as divisions re-emerged, between an enlarged EU and NATO on the one hand, and Russia on the other.

The OSCE lacks the legal powers and the resources needed to live up to its ambition of becoming a platform for pan-European/trans-Atlantic cooperation. With decisions taken by consensus, disagreements between participating states hamper decision-making and prevent the organisation from becoming more effective.

The OSCE plays a useful though limited role in several areas. The organisation has been powerless to resolve conflicts in the post-Soviet region, but its observers are the main source of detailed and reliable information on the situation in eastern Ukraine. OSCE agreements, such as the Vienna Document, help to promote military transparency, and election observation missions have advanced democratic reforms in several countries.

Read the complete briefing on ‘The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE): A pillar of the European security order‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Listen to policy podcast ‘Protecting pollinators in the EU’ on YouTube.

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Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2021/09/30/the-organization-for-security-and-co-operation-in-europe-osce-a-pillar-of-the-european-security-order/

Protecting pollinators in the EU [Policy Podcast]

Written by Vivienne Halleux.

Europe hosts a rich diversity of wild pollinators, including over 2 000 species of bees, more than 480 species of butterflies, almost 1 000 species of hoverflies and thousands of other insect species. In the European Union (EU), 78 % of native flora and 84 % of crops are either partially or fully dependent on insects for pollination. Significant pollinator loss has been documented over time across the EU. According to the European Red List of Bees, around 9 % of all bee species are threatened in the EU. The EU grassland butterfly indicator has recorded a 39 % decline in grassland butterfly abundance since 1990. Studies in selected European countries have provided further examples of pollinator declines. Such loss entails risks for both societies and ecosystems.

EU legislation relevant to pollinator protection includes the Habitats Directive; the regulatory framework on pesticides; and the common agricultural policy (CAP). The EU rules governing the approval of pesticides require consideration of pesticide effects on honeybees. The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) is currently reviewing its 2013 guidance on the risk assessment of pesticides on bees, which was never formally adopted due to insufficient support from Member States. One key aspect of the review process is the setting of specific protection goals, defining the maximum acceptable level of harm to bees, on which EU ministers have recently agreed.

Assessments of action at EU level identified gaps in the key EU policies addressing the main threats to wild pollinators. Although progress has been made in the implementation of the EU pollinators initiative (EPI), adopted in 2018 to tackle the decline of wild pollinators, more needs to be done, in particular to address the loss of habitats in farming landscapes and the impacts of pesticides. The EU Biodiversity and the Farm to Fork strategies set out specific targets that can help advance pollinator conservation. Integrating them into the new CAP however remains a major challenge.

Pollinator protection is a key issue for the European Parliament, which made clear that the revision of the EFSA bee guidance document should ensure a level of protection at least equivalent to that laid down in 2013. Parliament also called for an urgent revision of the EU pollinators initiative, a ban on all neonicotinoid-based pesticides and the inclusion of EU-wide binding pesticide reduction targets in the upcoming revision of the directive on the sustainable use of pesticides.

Read the complete briefing on ‘Protecting pollinators in the EU‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Listen to policy podcast ‘Protecting pollinators in the EU’ on YouTube.

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Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2021/09/29/protecting-pollinators-in-the-eu-policy-podcast/

EU-US Trade and Technology Council: New forum for transatlantic cooperation

Written by Marcin Szczepanski.

In December 2020, the European Commission proposed the creation of the EU-US Trade and Technology Council (TTC), to facilitate trade, expand investment, develop compatible standards, boost innovation and strengthen the partners’ technological and industrial leadership. The TTC also aims to ‘lead values-based digital transformation’. Meanwhile, trade between the EU and US continues and is as important as ever, manifested in the fact that, together, they form the largest bilateral economic relationship in the world, with the largest global data flows across the Atlantic. However, in recent years, transatlantic trade and technology policy relations have been marked by low levels of cooperation and a number of sources of tension. The 2021 change of administration in Washington nevertheless reinvigorated the relationship between the two.

The TTC was formally launched during the EU-US Summit on 15 June 2021. High-level politicians will guide the Council, while the groundwork will be carried out in ten working groups, comprised of experts from both partners. They will cover issues such as common standards, resilient supply chains, tech regulation, global trade challenges, climate and green tech as well as investment screening and export controls. The establishment of the TTC has been widely welcomed by stakeholders and the think-tank community as an important step towards bridging existing gaps and moving on with a forward-looking agenda, focused on strategic areas and new ways of cooperation. While there is a genuine will to work together on common challenges, some difficult issues such as unresolved issues from the past and different approaches to regulating digital markets persist, and it remains to be seen whether the TTC will lead to the creation of an ambitious joint policy that influences trade and technology worldwide. The first meeting is due to take place on 29 September 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


Read the complete briefing on ‘EU-US Trade and Technology Council: New forum for transatlantic cooperation‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

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Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2021/09/28/eu-us-trade-and-technology-council-new-forum-for-transatlantic-cooperation/

What if the internet failed?

Written by Lieve Van Woensel with Carl Pierer.

Since the 1960s, when work on its development began, internet infrastructure has become almost as important as the electricity and transport infrastructure in modern societies. More and more key services, such as banking, food retail and health care, rely on internet connections. Despite the internet’s original resilient decentralised design, the increasing importance of a few central players and the shift towards greater centralisation have made the internet more susceptible to failure. This would have severe repercussions: people would not be able to withdraw cash or pay by card, supermarkets and large retailers would not be able to bill and sell products, and managing digital certificates (such as the Covid-19 vaccination certificate) would no longer be possible.

Internet-dependent solutions promise greater efficiency and ease of use as well as enhanced control and communication. On a European level, such solutions concern, for instance, the establishment of a European health data space and the European data infrastructure initiative, Gaia-X. All EU Member States increasingly rely on internet-based solutions for many aspects of government, such as taxation, managing citizens’ official documents and registering their personal information. The internet is already integral to the functioning of some of the most important sectors of the European economy, such as financial services, transport and tourism, but also to security and border management. The role the internet plays is likely to further increase in significance, especially in the context of the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lasting transformations of work and consumption.

The internet has been designed for extraordinary resilience. Its decentralised structure as a network of networks is meant to ensure that, should one or multiple nodes fail, information could still be transmitted, even in the event of a nuclear war. However, with the widespread adoption of the internet and its increased importance in all areas of social life, economic dynamics that incentivise centralisation have become more important. This development implies that the failure of nodes that are more centralised will have more severe, more likely, and more wide-ranging impacts.

There are several ways in which the internet could fail. There could be physical disruption to the connections making up the internet or the crucial nodes in the network where most of the data are exchanged, for instance, through the destruction of cables. Such physical disruption occasionally occurs by accident, but the impact is usually limited. To significantly affect the network, one would have to mount a large-scale, coordinated attack on a high number of nodes. Some natural phenomena, such as solar storms, may cause more severe physical damage. More important are the non-physical disruptions, as they can relatively easily affect larger parts of the network. These include distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks or the rerouting of traffic through the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), both explained below. Depending on the scale and target of these attacks, they can lead to important internet outages. Due to the increasingly centralised structure of the internet, even single end-user errors may have significant effects. This was the case in June 2021, when a customer of cloud computing company Fastly, while changing his settings, inadvertently forced several major websites offline as a result of a bug in the company software.

DDoS attacks attempt to overload a service by sending a large number of requests from many different devices, often infected with malware, simultaneously. The targets of these attacks can range from individual websites, which are frequently forced offline as a result of the attack, to more central parts of the internet’s infrastructure. In 2016, a large-scale DDoS attack forced Dyn, which at the time was managing significant parts of the domain name system (DNS) infrastructure, offline. This caused disruption to services for many large websites, such as the BBC, and to websites related to the Swedish government. In May 2021, a similar attack targeted Belnet, a Belgian internet service provider on which much of the Belgian government institutions rely for internet connectivity. This attack caused important services to be inaccessible for universities, hospitals, and even the federal parliament. The advent of the internet of things will likely trigger a drastic surge in the number of devices capable of connecting to the internet, often with poor security standards, which would increase the vulnerability to and the severity of DDoS attacks.

‘BGP hijacking’ refers to the illegitimate corruption of internet routing tables and the subsequent redirection of traffic. In 2008, a Pakistani telecommunications company, in an effort to block the country’s access to YouTube, changed the routing tables and accidentally claimed to be the legitimate address for YouTube. Global traffic was thereby rerouted from YouTube to Pakistan, causing internet failure in the country and rendering YouTube inaccessible. This vulnerability touches upon a key element in the functioning of the internet, namely, the way traffic is directed, and has been known for more than a decade. Despite increased efforts by the private sector to remedy this problem, it has continued to lead to important security breaches and has been recognised by ENISA.

Potential impacts and developments

In societies that increasingly rely on internet-based services, disruptions to the internet can have many severe consequences. They would likely affect many more domains than can be covered here.

At a more general level, any data stored off-site (in the cloud) may become inaccessible. More importantly, this data may well be difficult to recover: cloud service providers may struggle to identify the exact server on which the data is physically stored. Without this kind of traceability, it might be impossible to physically recover the data for the duration of the internet outage. This is particularly meaningful for data that are time-sensitive, as is the case with health data kept by hospitals, which are increasingly reliant on cloud solutions (in the EU, Sweden‘s hospitals are at the forefront of this trend).

Importantly, a general internet outage would severely affect monetary transactions. Payments by card would no longer be possible, and cash machines, unable to connect to central banking servers, would not dispense any cash. Without access to cash, individuals would not be able to perform even their most basic daily activities such as buying a cup of coffee or food. Many ticketing services for events, travel or transport connect to the internet to authorise the purchase or verify the authenticity of a ticket. Without such a connection, these tickets could neither be bought nor validated. More topically, app-based solutions for controlling the digital Covid certificate are functional as long as they have an operational internet connection. Severing it could endanger the strategies for containing the coronavirus pandemic.

Software providers today increasingly rely on the software-as-a-service (SaaS) business model, where clients acquire access to centrally hosted software on a subscription basis, while the software is owned, managed and delivered remotely. For their correct functioning and/or maintenance, such services rely on an internet connection. Consequently, disruption to this connection will severely impact businesses and industries relying on such software. The SaaS-model has been widely adopted in many business applications.

Finally, the internet also plays a crucial role in cloud-based solutions in the domains of logistics, inventory and supply-chain. If this means of communication is disrupted, retailers would struggle to fill their shelves and know when to order what product. Without the possibility of billing, consumers would not be able to buy any groceries or other products from supermarkets and large retailers.

Anticipatory policy-making

While many services have only recently adopted or are currently switching to internet-based solutions, the impacts of internet failure, whenever it occurs, are exacerbated by the fact that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to simply go back to the old ways of doing things. Moreover, efforts to correctly and precisely assess and increase the resilience of the internet are currently hampered by a lack of knowledge about the exact configuration, key players and the very structure of the internet.

The European Parliament (EP) is in a position to address these issues by means of a three-pronged approach. First, in a general vein, it can work towards counteracting the centralisation of internet infrastructure, especially in forthcoming discussions on the Digital Markets Act. In these discussions, it can push for more stringent implementation of the EU’s competition legislation, and at the same time emphasise the importance of distributed internet infrastructure, for instance by repatriating systems, servers, and storage to the EU, and urging the EU and Member States to invest in such infrastructure. It can furthermore support greater diversity of platforms and operating systems. In the meantime, the EP can mandate the monitoring, by the relevant bodies at EU and Member State level, of existing back-up solutions for sensitive systems, such as law enforcement, to constantly evaluate the feasibility of offline back-up solutions for essential services. Second, as the ongoing trend of centralisation of the internet increases its vulnerability, deepened awareness of the potential failures of any internet-based solution is required, for example, when making risk assessments. It is in this context that ongoing efforts to establish a common European security certificate have to be understood. The EP could call for this certificate to be required for any device destined for sale in the single market and capable of connecting to the internet. Third, the EP could support a coordinated effort to research and map the information lacking about what economic practices and developments may negatively affect the resilient structure of the internet, and what alternatives are available to prevent this.


Read this ‘at a glance’ on ‘What if the internet failed?‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

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Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2021/09/27/what-if-the-internet-failed/

European Day of Languages: Multilingualism as a cornerstone of better communication

Written by Ivana Katsarova.

Some 7 000 languages are spoken globally today. However, half of the world’s population shares just six native languages, and some 90 % of all languages could be replaced by dominant ones by the end of the century.

Following the success of the European Year of Languages (2001), the Council of Europe designated 26 September as the European Day of Languages.

National languages are a fundamental feature of a country’s cultural identity and an important element of its sovereignty. The European Union (EU) operates as a ‘family’, whose members preserve their cultural identity, a principle that is reflected in the EU motto ‘United in diversity’. When acceding to the EU, new Member States declare which of their languages will become an official EU language. Currently, the EU has three alphabets (Cyrillic, Greek and Latin) and 24 official languages, which are listed in the Treaties (Article 55(1) TEU). Alongside official EU languages, national sign languages and the languages spoken by the immigrant or refugee populations complete the linguistic picture of the EU.

EU countries are also committed to the preservation of regional or minority languages. The critical threshold for the survival of a language is estimated at 300 000 speakers. According to Unesco, there are 221 endangered regional and minority languages in the EU, which are not necessarily spoken within one and the same state. Their protection and promotion is ensured by the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages adopted under the auspices of the Council of Europe in 1992, and ratified by 16 EU countries.

Multilingualism is not only an expression of the EU countries’ cultural identities but it also helps preserve democracy, transparency and accountability. No legislation can enter into force until it has been translated into all official languages and published in the Official Journal of the European Union. Crucially, the provisions relating to the EU language regime can only be changed by a unanimous vote in the Council of the EU.

Looked at from the supranational perspective of the EU, effective multilingualism can only be achieved if ways are found for citizens and bodies to communicate with each other – either by using a language other than their native one, or by setting up a comprehensive translation system. The EU has sought to facilitate both modes of communication, by supporting language learning in the Member States and by creating, maintaining and expanding a complex set of interpretation and translation services.

The EU promotes language learning but has limited influence over educational and language policies, as these are the responsibility of the individual EU countries. Statistics show that in 2016, over one third (35.4%) of the working-age adults in the EU-28 reported that they did not know any foreign languages. A similar proportion (35.2 %) declared that they knew one foreign language, while just over one fifth (21 %) said they knew two foreign languages. Younger people – 73.3 % of the EU’s population aged 25-34, and those holding university degrees (83 %) – reported that they knew at least one foreign language.

The European Parliament is committed to ensuring the highest possible degree of multilingualism in its work. Based on the 24 official languages, the total number of linguistic combinations rises to 552, since each language can be translated into the 23 others. Currently, over 1 000 translators and over 500 interpreters offer their services to the 705 Members of the European Parliament. Internally, the EU institutions mostly use just three working languages: English, French and German.

The overall cost for delivering translation and interpretation services in the EU institutions is around €1 billion per year, which represents less than 1 % of the EU budget or just over €2 per citizen.

Adoption of a single EU language has sometimes been considered, but democracy, transparency and accountability require that all EU citizens understand clearly what is being done in their name, yet as shown previously, over 35 % of all adults in the EU do not know any foreign languages. Moreover, respect for linguistic diversity is enshrined in the Treaties (Article 3(3) TEU) and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU (Article 22).


Read this ‘at a glance’ on ‘European Day of Languages: Multilingualism as a cornerstone of better communication‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

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Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2021/09/24/european-day-of-languages-multilingualism-as-a-cornerstone-of-better-communication/

The cost of alternative crop protection practices

Written by Lieve Van Woensel with Carl Pierer.

Earlier this year, STOA published a study on the future of crop protection. This study was carried out in the context of a growing world population and the resulting need to improve food productivity per hectare. The overall objective was to present an overview of crop protection options for European farmers, which might enable them to work sustainably while securing food production, preserving biodiversity and supporting their incomes.

As a follow-up to this study, STOA commissioned an analysis of the cost of alternative crop protection practices for the major field and garden crops in the EU‑27, including cereals, vegetables, grapes, olives and citrus fruits. The Lead Panel Member for the initial study, as well as for the follow-up, was Herbert Dorfmann (EPP, Italy), a STOA Panel member.

No one size-fits-all

The study aimed at providing a clear picture of which practices are economically most attractive in the different EU Member States. To do so, it identified four clusters of Member States as a function of both average crop protection cost and dominant type of plant production:

  • Consisting predominantly of central European countries, this cluster has average crop protection costs and general field cropping (arable crops other than cereals, oilseed and protein crops, e.g. potato, sugar beet, onion, vegetables), as the dominant type of plant production.
  • Consisting mainly of southern European countries, this cluster shares the characteristics of the first, but in addition olives and wine also figure prominently in their plant production.
  • Consisting of mostly northern and eastern European countries, this cluster has low crop protection costs and an important production of cereals, oilseed and protein crops.
  • The final cluster of largely north-western European countries has high crop protection costs and general field cropping.

While the EU’s agricultural sector is very diverse in crop specialisation, farm size distribution, labour availability and cost of operation, the members of each of these clusters have comparable agricultural characteristics and are likely to experience comparable effects when adopting and implementing alternative crop protection strategies.

Alternative practices in focus

The costs were estimated for the following seven alternative practices, drawn from the previous study:

1. Mechanical techniques

Mechanical techniques refer to replacing (part of the) chemical weed control by mechanical weed control. The cost varies from crop to crop and the differences between Member States are large. Because mechanical weeding cannot remove all the weeds, some crops require up to 150 hours of additional manual labour per hectare. Between Member States, the costs vary, because of differences in the cost of labour. Innovative methods with sensors allow for more precise weeding and could, in time, reduce the number of hours of manual weeding required.

2. Plant breeding

Disease and crop pest resistance can be improved through plant breeding, which decreases the need to apply plant protection products (PPPs) against specific diseases or pests. The cost is low for the farmer, with potential economic benefits if new varieties are used correctly. However, in crops such as olives, grapes and citrus fruit, it takes a long time for new varieties to become widely effective, as replanting cycles last between 25 and 40 years.

3. Biocontrol

An example of biocontrol is using natural predators to control insects that threaten a crop. These measures are standard in greenhouse horticulture. In uncontrolled outdoor settings this is more complex and costly.

4. Induced resistance

Costs for this type of practice are particularly hard to estimate, as the vast majority of the products have no proven efficacy. Experts indicate that in balanced systems, where all aspects are under control, they will likely have limited effects.

5. Applying ecological principles to increase biodiversity

Biodiversity can be increased in many ways. The study estimates the cost for several options. However, for whole systems that increase biodiversity, such as strip cropping and agroforestry, little data is available about the cost and benefits.

6. Precision agriculture

Precision agriculture ranges from simple measures – using global navigation satellite systems, such as the EU’s Galileo, for steering guidance – to using sensors to identify diseases. The cost and benefits vary widely and the benefits do not always outweigh the cost for the farmer.

7. Green PPPs

The cost of green PPPs depends on their efficacy. Many products have proven to be effective, but the costs are determined by the number of applications required. Some green PPPs are already widely used and have proven to be a good alternative.

Challenges to implementation

A specific challenge for farmers is to integrate several alternative practices in order to reduce their synthetic pesticide use as much as possible. Most individual practices require training and that is even more the case for combining different practices. Practices such as plant breeding and mechanical weeding require little to no training. Biocontrol, induced resistance and green pesticides require a minimum of training in the field. The application of ecological principles also requires knowledge and repeated field sessions for demonstration and advice. Precision agriculture requires a broad availability and knowledge of machinery and information technology, besides agronomy and soil science. EU facilities such as the Farm Advisory System (FAS) and the European Innovation Partnership (EIP-AGRI) could support training, especially for small and family farms.

Finally, given the large diversity of the EU’s agricultural sector, a future challenge could be to put forward policy options for the clusters of Member States identified, and even within the clusters, as to what combination of practices would be most effective for reduction in use of PPPs, while at the same time being economically promising.

Your opinion counts for us. To let us know what you think, get in touch via stoa@europarl.europa.eu.

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Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2021/09/23/the-cost-of-alternative-crop-protection-practices/

General product safety regulation [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Nikolina Šajn (1st edition).

On 30 June 2021, the Commission adopted a proposal for a general product safety regulation, which would replace the current General Product Safety Directive, as part of the regulatory fitness-check programme (REFIT). The proposal seeks to address the challenges of product safety of emerging technologies, including use of artificial intelligence (AI) and connected devices, and to establish clear obligations for online marketplaces, which consumers increasingly use for their online purchases. The proposal would create a single set of market surveillance rules for both harmonised and non-harmonised products, including by aligning the provisions with the Market Surveillance Regulation, and would improve the effectiveness of product recalls. For non-harmonised products where neither manufacturers nor distributors are established in the European Union, it would introduce a requirement for a person to be responsible for the product in the Union. The proposal would clarify consumer remedies and harmonise maximum penalties for infringements. In the European Parliament, the file has been provisionally referred to the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection.

Versions

EU legislation in progressEU legislation in progress

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Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2021/09/22/general-product-safety-regulation-eu-legislation-in-progress/

Thinking about the future: What is the future of sovereignty and of European sovereignty?

Written by Joanna Apap.

‘What is the future of sovereignty and of European sovereignty?’ The European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) put forward this very topical question to participants in the first of a series of forward-looking events devoted to ‘Thinking about the Future’. On 7 September, the participants in this online roundtable, organised in partnership with the Groupe d’études géopolitiques research centre, assessed the contemporary meaning of sovereignty and its potential evolution in the coming years. Anthony Teasdale, Director General of EPRS, welcomed a panel of academics and commentators: Sebastian Lumet, Director of the Brussels office of Le Grand Continent; Luiza Bialasiewicz, Political Geographer and Professor of European Governance at the University of Amsterdam; Quentin Peel, Associate Fellow, Chatham House and former Europe and foreign editor for the Financial Times; and Céline Spector Professor in Philosophy at the Sorbonne University, Paris.

Sebastian Lumet presented the work of his research centre on sovereignty, as well as links to the work of the other participating speakers.

Sketching out the vast territory for this debate, moderator Franck Debié, Director of the European Parliament’s Library within EPRS, pointed out that although European integration involves the pooling of national sovereignty, it is only recently that the idea of a free-standing ‘European sovereignty’ has entered mainstream debate. Questions to be answered include: What is European sovereignty? How does it apply to the European debate? Where is the locus of power? To what extent is sovereignty to remain within national or geographical confines, or can we look beyond borders through a global conceptual lens particularly in this digital age? How far is it a legal concept and how far about maximising practical influence in the world? How might it and national sovereignty evolve in the future? Could the panel answer some or all of the above questions by looking at the past, present, as well as, future perspectives of sovereignty in Europe?

Franck Debié and Céline Spector began with an exploration of the historical background of sovereignty, looking back to France in the16th century where Jean Bodin used the new concept of sovereignty to bolster the power of the French king over the rebellious feudal lords, facilitating the transition from feudalism to nationalism. Their conversation ranged from the foundational ideas of English philosopher Thomas Hobbes – that in every true state some person or body of persons must have the ultimate and absolute authority to declare the law, which paved the way for our modern concept of sovereignty – to John Locke and Jean‑Jacques Rousseau’s theories that the state is based upon a formal or informal social contract, entrusting power in return for common protection. Such theories led to the development of the doctrine of popular sovereignty that found expression in the American Declaration of Independence in 1776. The origin of checks and balances, like the separation of powers itself, is specifically credited to Montesquieu. Thus, the idea of popular sovereignty exercised primarily by the people became combined with the idea of national sovereignty exercised not by an unorganised people in the ‘state of nature’, but by a nation embodied in an organised state. In the 19th century, English legal theorist John Austin concluded that sovereignty is vested in a nation’s parliament.

Looking at sovereignty in Europe today and what the future may hold, Luiza Bialasiewicz and Quentin Peel noted an evolution both in Europe and internationally. The growth of democracy imposed important limitations upon the power of the sovereign and of the ruling classes. Increased state interdependence restricted the principle that ‘might is right’ in international affairs. Citizens and policy-makers generally recognised that there can be no peace without law and that there can be no law without some limitations on sovereignty. They started, therefore, to pool their sovereignties to the extent needed to maintain peace and prosperity. The European Union is a salient example of such division of powers and pooling of sovereignty. Quentin Peel noted that ‘sovereignty’ remains contested, however, and pointed to the term’s misuse during the Brexit campaign. The pooling of sovereignty at European level, on migration, the rule of law, the European Court of Justice’s jurisdiction, and its consequences for national parliamentary sovereignty, all proved to be issues that motivated people in the United Kingdom to vote to leave the Union.

The panellists argued that, to define the concept of European sovereignty, the term needs to be decoupled from its traditional meaning. Digital technologies and the transformations brought about by Covid‑19, have led to geopolitical developments in sovereignty that surpasses national confines, giving birth to a European Sovereignty. Technological warfare, as well as global competition in addressing the pandemic, demonstrated the new sovereignty and pooling of power that played a key role in the recovery process. Conversely, ‘anti-vaxxers’ and anti-lockdown campaigners demonstrated a desire for self-determination or ‘individual sovereignty’, while the EU digital Covid‑19 certificate brought new meaning to sovereignty for citizens. The introduction of the euro had already brought shared financial sovereignty for a group of EU Member States. Now, when dealing with great powers, the EU has started to develop its strategic autonomy, which in turn, reinforces European sovereignty. The building of European sovereignty is an incremental process, which reinforces the European Union, without striving to building a super-state.

To watch the event, please click here.

Relevant links for further information on this theme:

You can find the next coming EPRS online events here.

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Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2021/09/21/thinking-about-the-future-what-is-the-future-of-sovereignty-and-of-european-sovereignty/

‘Thinking about the future: What is the future of sovereignty and of European sovereignty?’

Written by Joanna Apap.

‘What is the future of sovereignty and of European sovereignty?’ The European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) put forward this very topical question to participants in the first of a series of forward-looking events devoted to ‘Thinking about the Future’. On 7 September, the participants in this online roundtable, organised in partnership with the Groupe d’études géopolitiques research centre, assessed the contemporary meaning of sovereignty and its potential evolution in the coming years. Anthony Teasdale, Director General of EPRS, welcomed a panel of academics and commentators: Sebastian Lumet, Director of the Brussels office of Le Grand Continent; Luiza Bialasiewicz, Political Geographer and Professor of European Governance at the University of Amsterdam; Quentin Peel, Associate Fellow, Chatham House and former Europe and foreign editor for the Financial Times; and Céline Spector Professor in Philosophy at the Sorbonne University, Paris.

Sebastian Lumet presented the work of his research centre on sovereignty, as well as links to the work of the other participating speakers.

Sketching out the vast territory for this debate, moderator Franck Debié, Director of the European Parliament’s Library within EPRS, pointed out that although European integration involves the pooling of national sovereignty, it is only recently that the idea of a free-standing ‘European sovereignty’ has entered mainstream debate. Questions to be answered include: What is European sovereignty? How does it apply to the European debate? Where is the locus of power? To what extent is sovereignty to remain within national or geographical confines, or can we look beyond borders through a global conceptual lens particularly in this digital age? How far is it a legal concept and how far about maximising practical influence in the world? How might it and national sovereignty evolve in the future? Could the panel answer some or all of the above questions by looking at the past, present, as well as, future perspectives of sovereignty in Europe?

Franck Debié and Céline Spector began with an exploration of the historical background of sovereignty, looking back to France in the16th century where Jean Bodin used the new concept of sovereignty to bolster the power of the French king over the rebellious feudal lords, facilitating the transition from feudalism to nationalism. Their conversation ranged from the foundational ideas of English philosopher Thomas Hobbes – that in every true state some person or body of persons must have the ultimate and absolute authority to declare the law, which paved the way for our modern concept of sovereignty – to John Locke and Jean‑Jacques Rousseau’s theories that the state is based upon a formal or informal social contract, entrusting power in return for common protection. Such theories led to the development of the doctrine of popular sovereignty that found expression in the American Declaration of Independence in 1776. The origin of checks and balances, like the separation of powers itself, is specifically credited to Montesquieu. Thus, the idea of popular sovereignty exercised primarily by the people became combined with the idea of national sovereignty exercised not by an unorganised people in the ‘state of nature’, but by a nation embodied in an organised state. In the 19th century, English legal theorist John Austin concluded that sovereignty is vested in a nation’s parliament.

Looking at sovereignty in Europe today and what the future may hold, Luiza Bialasiewicz and Quentin Peel noted an evolution both in Europe and internationally. The growth of democracy imposed important limitations upon the power of the sovereign and of the ruling classes. Increased state interdependence restricted the principle that ‘might is right’ in international affairs. Citizens and policy-makers generally recognised that there can be no peace without law and that there can be no law without some limitations on sovereignty. They started, therefore, to pool their sovereignties to the extent needed to maintain peace and prosperity. The European Union is a salient example of such division of powers and pooling of sovereignty. Quentin Peel noted that ‘sovereignty’ remains contested, however, and pointed to the term’s misuse during the Brexit campaign. The pooling of sovereignty at European level, on migration, the rule of law, the European Court of Justice’s jurisdiction, and its consequences for national parliamentary sovereignty, all proved to be issues that motivated people in the United Kingdom to vote to leave the Union.

The panellists argued that, to define the concept of European sovereignty, the term needs to be decoupled from its traditional meaning. Digital technologies and the transformations brought about by Covid‑19, have led to geopolitical developments in sovereignty that surpasses national confines, giving birth to a European Sovereignty. Technological warfare, as well as global competition in addressing the pandemic, demonstrated the new sovereignty and pooling of power that played a key role in the recovery process. Conversely, ‘anti-vaxxers’ and anti-lockdown campaigners demonstrated a desire for self-determination or ‘individual sovereignty’, while the EU digital Covid‑19 certificate brought new meaning to sovereignty for citizens. The introduction of the euro had already brought shared financial sovereignty for a group of EU Member States. Now, when dealing with great powers, the EU has started to develop its strategic autonomy, which in turn, reinforces European sovereignty. The building of European sovereignty is an incremental process, which reinforces the European Union, without striving to building a super-state.

To watch the event, please click here.

Relevant links for further information on this theme:

You can find the next coming EPRS online events here.

Share this…
Share on FacebookShare on FacebookPin on PinterestPin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on LinkedInEmail this to someoneEmail this to someone

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2021/09/21/thinking-about-the-future-what-is-the-future-of-sovereignty-and-of-european-sovereignty/