3 Key Questions on Competition Fines

Some companies use monopoly situations or join forces with other companies to fix prices in order to overcharge. The European Union punishes this kind of unfair behaviour and the European Commission has the power to issue what are known as competition fines.

Listen to Sidonia Mazur, an EPRS policy analyst, explaining the issues in 3 key questions on Competition Fines.

Or read more in our publications: EU competition policy: key to a fair Single Market.

Our “3 Key Questions on …” series of video interviews with our policy analysts include visual aids to getting a swift grasp of the policy challenges at hand. Take a look at the full series on YouTube.


Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/07/15/3-key-questions-on-competition-fines/

What if we didn’t need cows for our beef? [Science and Technology podcast]

Written by Lieve Van Woensel with Jens Van Steerteghem,

© Worldpics / Shutterstock

With the help of cells from a single cow, scientists can produce 175 million hamburgers. When fully commercialised, this type of technology could greatly impact the way we produce and consume meat.

Today, meat is produced in an inefficient way. A whole living, breathing, feeling, moving animal is grown and only a fraction of the energy given through food is recovered in edible body parts. From an evolutionary point of view, the animal is intent on reproduction, not meat production. Scientists are working to avoid this detour in order to increase efficiency and improve animal welfare. The idea is to grow the meat directly in a petri dish or bio-reactor.

Scientists start by taking special cells from the animal of interest, suspend them in an adequate growth medium in which they can divide and grow, and provide a scaffold to which the cells can attach and the cell culture can take structure. The type of starter cells is important because they determine on the one hand how fast the cells divide, and on the other hand how similar they are to a muscle cell, which is what meat mainly consists of. Stem cells divide rapidly but must be induced to differentiate into muscle cells, whereas muscle cells are already differentiated but hardly proliferate at all. The solution is to start with ‘in-between’ cell types such as myoblasts, which are acceptable on both fronts. These starter cells can be extracted from animals painlessly. The growth medium needs to contain all nutrients the myoblast cells require to grow, while being cost-effective and without animal ingredients. So far, scientists use foetal calf serum for research purposes only, and are still investigating ethical substitutes to be used for commercial purposes. The scaffold needs to be edible and flexible enough to move and provide the muscle cells with periodic contractions, providing a ‘workout’ of sorts. Alginate, chitosan or collagen derived from non-animal sources fulfil these requirements, periodically stretching under changes in temperature and acidity. Globally, several companies have plans to enter the market (Finless Foods, Mosa Meats, Memphis Meats). The first cultured meat products are expected to appear in supermarkets as early as 2021.

A joint Oxford and Amsterdam University study shows that, compared to conventional meat, the environmental impact of cultured meat is potentially very small, with ‘up to 96 % lower greenhouse gas emissions, 45 % less energy, 99 % lower land use, and 96 % lower water use’. Taking into account that the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates global meat demand will increase by 73 % by 2050, and that livestock farming is responsible for 18 % of all greenhouse emissions, 30 % of land use, and 8 % of water use, efficiency increases could be crucial for achieving sustainable meat production.

The obstacle to rolling out cultured meat production is the price – in 2008, it was speculated that 250 grammes would cost about US$1 million. However, this cost is rapidly decreasing. In 2015, Mark Post, Lead Researcher at Maastricht University, said the marginal cost could fall to about €8 for one burger. When the technology of large-scale production in bioreactors is mature, prices should decline even further. It is estimated that such burgers could eventually be produced for €3 500 euro per tonne, which is around 1.5 times the current cost of conventional European beef production.

Additional advantages of cultured meat include the possibility of adding nutritional value, omega-3 fatty acids for example, less exposure to pathogens and chemicals such as pesticides, and reduced use of antibiotics. This latter point is important, considering that 70 % of all antibiotics are used in agriculture, which causes antibiotic resistance in human pathogens.

While cultured meat can be used for making processed meat products such as sausages, burgers and nuggets, creating meats with a lot of structure, such as steak, is not yet in sight. In order to acquire the appearance, taste, smell and texture, cultured meat must consist of both small and large muscle fibres with connective tissue and fat cells. This will to a large extent determine whether cultured meat is commercially viable. On the other hand, the possibility of engineering meat for optimal nutrition, or even customisation on an individual basis, may prove to be a large advantage ­– especially considering that the consumption of processed meat is linked to heart disease, digestive tract cancer, and type-2 diabetes.

The artificiality of cultured meat, as well as the high price, is certain to deter some consumers. But it is conceivable that lower prices and consumer environmental and health concerns could arguably eventually win out. A market for high-quality animal meat that is difficult to culture will probably be around for longer. Religious dietary restrictions will also determine the popularity of cultured meat in large parts of the world: religious scholars continue to disagree on whether it is kosher, halal, or violates the position of cows in Hindu culture.

If cultured meats were to take over the market, general tolerance for animal suffering might decrease, and any suffering might be seen as unnecessary, even to meat-eaters.

It is likely that, if cultured meat were to become the future standard, dairy and egg prices would increase, because the meat produced as a by-product would be less profitable. However, substitutes are also being researched for all these products; in the future, cultured dairy and eggs could be more cost-effective and cheaper.

Once cultured meat companies wish to enter the EU market, they will have to comply with the Novel Food Regulation. This defines novel foods as those that had not been consumed to a significant degree by humans in the EU before 15 May 1997, and lays down that novel foods must undergo pre-market authorisation evaluating the food as safe for consumers, that their consumption is not nutritionally disadvantageous, and that they are properly labelled, so as not to mislead consumers. The labelling of cultured meat therefore also needs to be investigated, as well as the question as to whether cultured meat can be considered ‘meat’ according to the EU definition of meat as ‘edible parts of the animals […], including blood’.

Finally, cultured meat will inevitably have an impact on the meat market, with consequences for conventional meat producers. However, as even conventional farming increasingly involves the use of new technologies, some farmers might be able to reorient their businesses to also incorporate this type of food production. To apply this new technology for the production of cultured meat, guidelines for best practices in its production and the processing will certainly be required.

Read this ‘at a glance’ on ‘What if we didn’t need cows for our beef?‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Listen to podcast ‘What if we didn’t need cows for our beef?‘.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/07/12/what-if-we-didnt-need-cows-for-our-beef-science-and-technology-podcast/

Role and election of the President of the European Commission

Written by Silvia Kotanidis,

Extraordinary meeting of the EP Conference of Presidents with Ursula von der LEYEN, candidate for President of the European Commission

© European Union 2019 – Source : EP

The President of the European Commission has taken on an ever more prominent leading role within the College of Commissioners, with the increasingly presidential system eclipsing the principle of collegiate decision-making. With the European Parliament now more involved in the appointment, the Presidency has not only become a much more politicised office, but the President has also gained greater influence vis-à-vis the other members of the Commission.

The Commission President plays a crucial role in relations between Parliament and Commission. Presenting his or her priorities to Parliament prior to election sets the course for the whole term, on which the President will be called to account by Parliament. Building on this, Parliament has an increasingly prominent role in political agenda-setting, shaping the EU’s legislative programming together with the Commission and the Council.

At the end of President Barroso’s second term as Commission President, many had criticised the lack of ambitious initiatives undertaken, whereas others believe that the economic and institutional difficulties which the EU faced made this inevitable. The legacy of President Juncker’s mandate can claim, on the one hand, to show progress in trade and defence, although some maintain that more ambition could have been displayed in other areas, for instance on the digital market or monetary union. On the other hand, the Juncker Commission introduced some significant changes in the College’s working methods and a more political role for the Commission.

Whereas Jean-Claude Juncker had been a Spitzenkandidat (lead candidate) in the European elections, Ursula von der Leyen, nominated as candidate for the Commission presidency by the European Council on 2 July, was not. As none of the Spitzenkandidaten were seen to have a clear majority in Parliament, it remains to be seen whether an ‘outsider’ from that process can muster the support of the required majority of Parliament’s component Members at the time of the election, currently planned for the July II plenary session.

This is an updated edition of a 2014 briefing drafted by Eva-Maria Poptcheva.

Read the complete briefing on ‘Role and election of the President of the European Commission‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/07/12/role-and-election-of-the-president-of-the-european-commission-2/

The European elections and thereafter [What Think Tanks are thinking]

Written by Marcin Grajewski,

Election in European Union - voting at the ballot box. A hand putting an EU flag vote in the ballot box.

© tanaonte / Fotolia

On 23-26 May, 2019, European Union citizens elected a more fragmented European Parliament than its predecesor, with the two main political groups – the European People’s Party and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats losing some ground, and the Liberals, now known as Renew Europe, and the Greens-European Free Alliance strengthening their representation. Gains made by Eurosceptic and populist groups proved more limited than had been predicted.

This note brings together commentaries, analyses and studies by major international think tanks and research institutes on European elections and its aftermath.

The threats to the European Union’s economic sovereignty
Bruegel, July 2019

Time for deputy prime ministers for European affairs
European Council on Foreign Relations, July 2019

Was uns der Streit um die Besetzung der EU-Spitzenposten lehrt
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik, July 2019

Spitzenkandidaten poker
European Council on Foreign Relations, July 2019

Can Ursula von der Leyen save the Transatlantic relationship?
Carnegie Europe, July 2019

Europa und der Westen
Hanns Seidel Stiftung, July 2019

How to govern a fragmented EU: What Europeans said at the ballot box
European Council on Foreign Relations, June 2019

Juncker ou la plus-value européenne. Le bilan positif de la Commission européenne (2014-2019)
Fondation Robert Schumann, June 2019

Europe according to Jacques Delors
Institut Jacques Delors, June 2019

Comparative trends in EU governance
Clingendael, July 2019

A strategic agenda for the new EU leadership
Bruegel, June 2019

The seven qualities of a European Commission
Notre Europe, June 2019

EU security ambitions are hostage to the Brexit process
Chatham House, June 2019

Untapped potential: How new alliances can strengthen the EU
European Council on Foreign Relations, June 2019

A redefinition of ‘Spitzenkandidaten’
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, June 2019

Democracy after the European Parliament elections
Centre for European Policy Studies, June 2019

Democracy after the European Parliament elections
Carnegie Europe, June 2019

Keine Entwarnung nach der Europawahl
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik, June 2019

The European Parliament elections: No grounds for complacency
Centre for European Reform, June 2019

Après les élections du 26 mai, la ‘doctrine Macron’ à l’assaut de l’Europe
Institut Thomas More, June 2019

After the European Parliament election: Another chance to bridge Europe’s divides
European Council on Foreign Relations, June 2019

The importance of building a European democracy
Friends of Europe, June 2019

European elections: Promoting a coalition agreement between four political families
Notre Europe, June 2019

Europe: Is the system broken?
German Marshall Fund, June 2019

Europe’s citizens say they want a more political EU
Bruegel, June 2019

The EU: The chance for a fresh impetus
Real Instituto Elcano, June 2019

Time for strong new EU leaders
Carnegie Europe, June 2019

EU parliamentary democracy: How representative?
Centre for European Policy Studies, May 2019

A democratic celebration for more Europe
Bertelsmann Stiftung, May 2019

European Parliament election results: The long view
Bruegel, May 2019

What Europeans really feel: The battle for the political system
European Council on Foreign Relations, May 2019

European elections: Quest for unity in the diversity of winners
Notre Europe, May 2019

Parlement européen: Un nouvel équilibre… mais pas eurosceptique
Fondation Robert Schumann, May 2019

The end of monogamy in Europe?
European Council on Foreign Relations, May 2019

Do these European Parliament elections matter?
Centre for European Reform, May 2019

The European elections: Signs of things to come for Brexit
Federal Trust for Education and Research, May 2019

Around the halls: Brookings experts analyze the European Parliament election results
Brookings Institution, May 2019

The new European Parliament
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, May 2019

The European election in Germany
Heinrich Böll Stiftung, May 2019

Europe’s smaller parties win big in European Parliament elections
Atlantic Council, May 2019

Read this briefing on ‘The European elections and thereafter‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/07/12/the-european-elections-and-thereafter-what-think-tanks-are-thinking/

European Parliament Plenary Session – July II 2019

Written by Clare Ferguson,

Sunset outside the European Parliament in Strasbourg

© European Union 2015 – European Parliament

The European Parliament resumes business on Monday, with a relatively light agenda (although with some rather major decisions to be made), ahead of the summer recess.

The new, ninth Parliament (2019-2024), with a majority of new Members (435), 40.4 % of whom are women, will need to decide on the appointment of the replacement for Jean-Claude Juncker as President of the European Commission. From the outset, Juncker, a Spitzenkandidat, transformed the presidential role, setting the agenda for his term in office prior to his 2014 election and pledging to make a difference for citizens. While the Commission has indeed tabled more than nine in ten of the planned legislative proposals, however, the end-of-term assessment is more nuanced: whereas some legislation was adopted rapidly, in other cases negotiations were lengthy, and disagreements between or within institutions blocked progress. In some areas, the Commission transformed such difficulties into opportunities; in others, proposals were insufficiently robust to meet the challenges, were tabled too late, or advanced unevenly.

The key debate of the session, scheduled for Tuesday morning, therefore, is a statement by the candidate for President of the Commission; Ursula von der Leyen (proposed by the Council, following disagreement regarding where the impetus for the nomination lies under the Treaty provisions). Although a mixed level of support has been indicated during meetings with Parliament’s political groups, the election of the President of the Commission is scheduled to be held on Tuesday evening. It remains possible, however, that the vote be postponed, if further consultations with the political groups were seen to be advantageous. Should the Parliament support her candidacy, despite her not having been a Spitzenkandidat, von der Leyen would become the first female President of the European Commission (although not the first German – the first-ever Commission President, and also the last German to hold the post, was Walter Hallstein in 1958). The new President-elect’s first tasks will be to set guidelines for the work and the organisation of their Commission, and to match portfolios to nominee Commissioners from the Member States. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR/VP), who will also hold a Vice-Presidency of the Commission, is an exception, as the Council plans to nominate Josep Borrell Fontelles. There may also be time for a vote on replacement of outgoing Commissioners Andrus Ansip and Corina Creţu (both elected to Parliament) for the remainder of their term of office.

The Council and Commission will make statements on Tuesday afternoon reviewing the Romanian Presidency of the Council, and on the situation regarding humanitarian assistance in the Mediterranean in the light of continued migration flows in the region. The current HR/VP, Federica Mogherini, will also attend the session on Tuesday afternoon to report on foreign affairs and security matters, including implementation of the EU global strategy. The Council and Commission return on Wednesday morning to make the customary statement on the priorities of the Finnish Presidency of the Council, which began on 1 July, and to make statements on clean air zones in EU cities in the afternoon.

Now that the political groups, Parliamentary bodies and committees are in place, Members will complete the organisation of the new Parliament when they decide on the numerical strength of interparliamentary delegations, and the Members appointed to each delegation are then to be announced on Wednesday. Debates and motions for resolutions concerning breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law are tabled for Thursday.

Work in Parliament should therefore really begin in earnest after the summer break, when committees will hold hearings with all the Commissioners-designate, and decisions may be taken on the ‘unfinished business’ remaining to be tackled from the eighth parliamentary term. Once voted into office, the new Commission can be expected to set out its priorities and its work programme for the coming year.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/07/12/european-parliament-plenary-session-july-ii-2019/

Members of the European Parliament, 2019-2024

Written by Giulio Sabbati,

In May 2019, European citizens voted on their representatives in the European Parliament for the next five years, to defend their interests in the EU. This year’s election had a turnout of 51%, an increase of 8.3 percentage points from the previous election in 2014. It is also the first time since 1999 that more than half of adult citizens voted. The 751 MEPs elected have an average age of 50 years (with the youngest being 21 and the oldest 82). There is a majority of new MEPs(435). Women represent 40.4% of all MEPs.

Members of the European Parliament, 2019-2024

Members of the European Parliament, 2019-2024

Read this ‘at a glance’ on ‘Members of the European Parliament, 2019-2024‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/07/11/members-of-the-european-parliament-2019-2024/

Multiannual financial framework for the years 2021 to 2027: The future of EU finances [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Alessandro D’Alfonso (1st edition),

Budget auf Münzenstapel

© magele-picture / Fotolia

On 20 June 2019, the European Council examined the progress of work in the Council on the Commission proposal for the long-term design of the post-2020 EU budget. The European Council now aims to reach an agreement among Heads of State or Government before the end of 2019. Elements for consideration in the draft regulation, which is part of a broader package of proposals, include the following features of the new multiannual financial framework (MFF): total resources, structure, priorities, flexibility provisions, and revision clauses. The European Parliament has already detailed its negotiating position in November 2018, with a view to contributing to a smooth transition to the next MFF and its related EU spending programmes as of 2021.


Agreement of Council position and request for Parliament's consent to its adoption

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/07/11/multiannual-financial-framework-for-the-years-2021-to-2027-the-future-of-eu-finances-eu-legislation-in-progress/

Parliamentary scrutiny of the European Commission: Implementation of Treaty provisions

Written by Milan Remáč,

© Fotolia

Like the majority of national parliaments, the European Parliament also carries out a scrutiny and oversight function in relation to the executive – the European Commission. The European Parliament’s powers with regard to the European Commission are varied and wide-ranging. This document is an update of the original European implementation assessment (EIA) prepared in 2018 to accompany the drafting by the European Parliament’s Committee on Constitutional Affairs (AFCO) of an implementation report on ‘the Treaty provisions on Parliament’s power of political control over the Commission’. It covers the last two full legislative terms of the European Parliament (2009 to 2014 and 2014 to 2019).

The objectives of the EIA were threefold:

  • first, to investigate and report on the status of the Parliament’s powers in scrutinising the European Commission, which are based on the Treaty provisions;
  • second, to assess the implementation of these Treaty provisions in specific areas in which Parliament can carry out its scrutiny prerogatives; and
  • third, to draw conclusions and suggest a direction for reflection on the exercise of the existing prerogatives.

The study briefly describes the background to the development of the European Parliament’s prerogatives with regard to the scrutiny of and political control over the executive. The methodology used to carry out the analysis included recourse to desk research and supporting data provided by the internal services of the European Parliament, as well as publicly available information. However, given that the assessment fed into the preparation of the AFCO implementation report on ‘the Treaty provisions on Parliament’s power of political control over the Commission’, analysis was limited to Parliament’s powers in relation to the Commission alone. In view of the time constraints involved, the cut-off date for the research is December 2009, date of the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, and the Treaty provisions researched have been clustered around certain specific topics.

The study analyses the European Parliament’s powers of scrutiny over the European Commission, based on the text of the Treaties, concentrating on the following ten areas:

  • electoral and institutional issues,
  • motion of censure and withdrawal of confidence in individual Commissioners,
  • parliamentary questions,
  • inquiry committees and special parliamentary committees,
  • reporting, consultation and provision of information,
  • budgetary issues,
  • legislative procedure,
  • delegated acts,
  • legal proceedings,
  • external relations.

The analysis concludes that Parliament is well aware of the Treaty provisions allowing it to scrutinise and control the Commission. However, Parliament’s actual application of these prerogatives in individual areas varies as to their number, frequency and impact on the Commission and its work. The study notes that the Commission tries to fulfil its obligations towards the Parliament in areas where the Treaties oblige it to do so.

The study also notes that the impact of Parliament’s scrutiny prerogatives could be improved with regard to some of the fields, such as committees of inquiry, special parliamentary committees, and legislative procedures linked to Article 225 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

In conclusion, the study argues that only a limited number of the scrutiny competences currently afforded to Parliament by the Treaties can have a lasting impact on the executive, since Parliament’s powers to influence the Commission are rather limited, both in terms of when they can be used and the nature of their consequences. Beyond the text of the Treaties, provisions contained in the framework of interinstitutional agreements can only strengthen Parliament if its counterparts agree to abide by them.

Finally, when assessing the Parliament’s prerogatives of control over the European Commission, it is important to bear in mind the main reason behind their original inclusion in the text of the Treaties, i.e. to provide for the democratic scrutiny of the executive. Similarly, the European Parliament’s role as representative of the EU citizens, and as the only directly elected EU institution, must be taken as the starting point when it comes to its scrutiny of the European Commission.

Read the complete study on ‘Parliamentary scrutiny of the European Commission: Implementation of Treaty provisions‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/07/10/parliamentary-scrutiny-of-the-european-commission-implementation-of-treaty-provisions/

Cyber: How big is the threat?

Written by Tania Lațici,

Cyber Protection Data Security Internet Privacy Internet technology concept on virtual screen.

© WrightStudio / Fotolia

The internet has transformed the world into a global village transcending physical borders and palpable distances. Often described as ‘fog’ or a ‘globalised network of networks’, cyberspace is extremely complex, accessible to everyone and difficult to pinpoint. While thanks to these characteristics cyberspace has opened countless social, economic and political opportunities, it has also become a source of disruption, conflict and geopolitical rivalries. The European Union has recognised that cyber-security and cyber-defence are critical for both its prosperity and security, and is emerging as an increasingly capable cyber player.

Deciphering the cyber realm

Nowadays, ‘cyber’ (meaning ‘of, relating to or involving computers or the internet’) is used in combination with words such as security, defence, attacks and deterrence. Cyber-associated terms have numerous definitions and interpretations. For instance, even though often used interchangeably, cyber-security and cyber-defence signify different activities. Cyber-security includes information and communication security, operational technology and the IT platforms required for digital assets. Cyber-defence is usually understood as including cyber-security, and consisting of threat analyses and strategies to protect against threats directed at citizens, institutions and governments. As for cyber-attacks, these are deliberate activities to disrupt or destroy computer systems and networks. Cyber-deterrence refers to measures for dissuading potential perpetrators through robust systems, sanctions mechanisms and cyber-diplomacy.

Significance of the cyber threat

As society’s dependence on the internet grows, so does the number of cyber-threats and the sophistication of cyber-attacks. Estimates suggest that by 2030, there will be 125 billion devices connected to the internet, and 90 % of individuals older than 6 will be online. Such connectivity also gives rise to vulnerability. Given the accessibility and relatively low cost of operations, anybody, be they individuals, professional criminals, state or non-state players, could become a perpetrator. Worldwide, countries are actively developing offensive cyber capabilities in the pursuit of geopolitical goals. The global cost of cybercrime is estimated at about €530 billion. Attacks are fast increasing in terms of number, disruptive potential and financial damage, outstripping governments’ capacity to deal with them. In 2017, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that cyber-attacks pose more danger to democracies and economies than guns and tanks.

Cyber-attacks can be damaging not only to the economy of the EU but also to its democratic foundations. When deployed together with other offensive actions, such as disinformation, economic pressure and conventional armed attacks, cyber can be part of a hybrid operation. Risks from the digital realm can destabilise governments and political systems, sow societal divisions and increase the risk of internal and external conflict. The World Economic Forum’s 2019 global risks report places cyber among the top five likely risks and top 10 most impactful risks. One of the most notable examples is the WannaCry attack, which spread to 300 000 computers in 150 countries, and the Petya and NotPetya attacks, which caused financial losses worth hundreds of millions. These attacks illustrate the growing trend of actions targeting strategic sectors and critical infrastructure, causing enormous disruption and provoking interstate tensions. Cyberspace is an increasingly contested political space and a potential source of international tensions. A key challenge faced by law enforcement bodies lies in the difficulty of attribution and in tracing perpetrators. Another is the legal and ethical dimension regarding the appropriate state response.

Possible solutions

It is increasingly accepted that resilience to cyber-threats requires a collective, collaborative and wide-ranging approach. An example in this regard is the new initiative for establishing common international norms for tackling cyber threats, the ‘Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace‘, launched by French President Emmanuel Macron in November 2018. Though not legally binding, the Paris Call is a high-level declaration for cooperation in cyberspace that was endorsed by 64 countries, as well as NGOs, universities and hundreds of private companies. Another example is the Tallinn Manual – an evolving document examining conflict in cyberspace from an international law perspective, written by a group of independent experts. Besides resilience, prevention is also a key pillar of cyber-defence. Two possible approaches to prevention are deterring and dissuading adversaries. The objective is to make a cyber-attack so financially unfeasible, as to discourage potential perpetrators from launching it. A group of experts have also developed three scenarios for strengthening the EU’s cyber-defence: 1) full implementation of the cyber package to increase operational capabilities; 2) creating a ‘cyber-defence coordinator’ with advisory and oversight powers and the task to decrease intra-EU fragmentation; 3) building on the first two, creating a ‘cyber-defence agency’ to add a strategic and operational mandate at the EU level.

In 2018, the United Nations General Assembly adopted two resolutions on cyber: on creating a working group to study cyber norms and possible dialogues, and on creating a group of government experts to study the applicability of international law to states in cyberspace. Again in 2018, UN Secretary General, António Guterres, also created a High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation to strengthen cooperation between all stakeholders, from governments to the private sector, in the digital sphere. American political scientist, Joseph Nye, argues that the diffusion of power from governments to non-state actors is one of the great shifts of this century. In a recent article, Foreign Policy magazine observed that even though ‘cyberwarfare does have rules … these rules are not intuitive to generals used to fighting conventional wars’. The academic and industrial consensus points to the need for creating rules for the cyber realm.

The EU as an emerging cyber actor

Over eight in 10 (87 %) EU citizens see cybercrime as an important challenge, in line with the EU’s 2016 global strategy, which says that ‘our Union is under threat’, including cyber-threat. The strategy emphasises that the EU needs to become a ‘forward-looking cyber player’ engaged in cyber-diplomacy and in building its partners’ capacity. The evolution of the threat landscape since the EU’s 2003 global strategy is obvious, as the earlier strategy made no mention of cyber. Since its first cyber-security strategy adopted in 2013, the EU has gradually developed cyber ambitions and tools to manage the challenge. The year 2017 was a landmark one for cyber in the EU, with the launch of the Commission’s cybersecurity package. It includes, among other things: a permanent mandate to the EU Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA); an EU cybersecurity certification framework; full implementation of the ‘NIS’ Directive; a blueprint for rapid emergency response; establishing EU-wide cyber-research centres; improving law-enforcement response; and improving the overall political response and deterrence. Since the Commission does not have operational capabilities of its own, it is supported by agencies and bodies, such as ENISA, Europol (especially its European Cyber Crime Centre), the EU Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (eu-LISA), the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-EU) and the Intelligence and Situation Centre (INTCEN). As for the Council, its 2017 conclusions established a framework for a joint EU diplomatic response to malicious cyber activities. On 17 May 2019, the Council established an autonomous sanctions framework for cyber-attacks, meaning that the EU is now able to impose sanctions on perpetrators or accomplices.

Cyber-defence aspects have also been included in the 2016 European defence action plan, prioritised in the European Defence Agency’s 2018 capability development priorities, addressed through several projects under permanent structured cooperation (PESCO), and listed as one of the seven concrete areas of EU-NATO cooperation. Cyber-defence also has implications for the EU’s solidarity and mutual assistance clauses as well as for the functioning and protection of EU missions and operations. The EU also holds numerous cyber-dialogues with international organisations, such as the UN, the Council of Europe, the OSCE and the OECD, and with partners such as the United States, Canada and Japan, to name a few.

The European Parliament welcomed the Commission’s cyber package, emphasising the EU’s and NATO’s ‘special responsibility and capacity’ to address cybersecurity and defence and calling on EU Members to prioritise their cyber-defence capabilities. In March 2019, Parliament approved the proposed cybersecurity act, establishing the first EU cyber-certification scheme and giving ENISA a permanent mandate.

Ensuring effective cyber-deterrence of malicious actors remains a challenge for the EU, and pan-European efforts for resilience, deterrence and defence should be strengthened and streamlined further. Experts have argued that deeper engagement by EU countries can hone a more systematic approach to fixing weak links and gaps, and can generate more robust and effective EU action on cyber.

Read this ‘at a glance’ on ‘Cyber: How big is the threat?‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/07/10/cyber-how-big-is-the-threat/

Size of Political Groups in the EP (2019-2024)

Written by Giulio Sabbati,

Within the European Parliament, Members (MEPs) sit in political groups, whose members come from several countries and come together on the basis of political affinity. Our table shows the number of MEPs in each political group in the European Parliament, broken down by Member State, as well as the non-attached (NI) Members who are not in any group.

At the moment, there are seven political groups in the Parliament, and many of those were also present in the last term:

EPP – Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats)

S&D – Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament

Renew Europe Group

Greens/EFA – Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance

ID – Identity and Democracy Group

ECR – European Conservatives and Reformists Group

GUE/NGL – Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left

The figures are supplied by our colleagues from the Members’ Administration Unit. Please note that these figures are subject to change and as a result we will update this table periodically throughout the five years of  the current parliamentary term

© European Union, EPRS

To find out more about the rules for forming a political group, see this EPRS briefing. To see the table of political groups in the 2014-2019 parliamentary term, see our previous blogpost.

Read this ‘at a glance’ on ‘Size of Political Groups in the EP (2019-2024)‘ in PDF.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2019/07/09/size-of-political-groups-in-the-ep-2019-2024/