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Economy

‘Raising climate target to 55% by 2030 is an important signal, it’s an important action’ Löfven

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Ahead of today’s (15 October) European Council eleven EU countries issued a joint statement calling on the EU to increase its 2030 climate target. Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden argue that in order to reach a climate neutral EU by 2050 the 2030 climate target needs to be raised to “at least 55 percent” this year. The increased target should be included in the EU’s updated Nationally Determined Contribution to be submitted to the UNFCCC before the end of this year and followed up by legislative proposals by June 2021 to deliver on the target. 

The eleven heads of government believe the new long-term budget and recovery package with the climate mainstreaming target of at least 30 percent and the “do no harm” principle ensure the EU financial contribution to achieving our increased 2030 climate target in a socially inclusive manner, enabling a just transition. 

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The move was resisted by some states that are already finding the energy transition difficult. Andrej Babiš, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, said that the Czech Republic would not be able to reach the 55% target. Babiš would be willing to sign up to a 55% average for the EU as a whole. 

The European Council agreed to come back to the matter in December. 

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Digital technology

EU-US Trade and Technology Council: Commission launches consultation platform for stakeholder's involvement to shape transatlantic co-operation

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The Commission has launched an online consultation platform on the EU-US Trade and Technology Council (TTC), allowing stakeholders to share their views and provide common proposals on the work ahead.Following their first meeting in Pittsburgh last month, representatives of the European Union and the United States agreed on the importance of and commitment to consulting closely with diversestakeholders on both sides of the Atlantic on their co-ordinated approaches to key global technology, economic, and trade issues.

It is in this context that the Commission has set up a one-stop-shop on its online “Futurium” platform, to collect input from all interested parties relating to the TTC. Businesses, think tanks, labour, non-profit and environmental organisations, academics, and other parties that form the civil society at large are invited to contribute, as essential actors to successful EU-US cooperation. The platform is open to everyone after a simple registration. It allows interested parties to have their voice heard in the work of the ten specific TTC Working Groups. Via this website, they can not only feed in their views, but also receive important information and updates on the progress of the different working groups. More information is available in the press release here.

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European Youth Initiative

Commission kick-starts work to make 2022 the European Year of Youth

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Following the announcement made by President von der Leyen in her 2021 State of the Union address, the Commission has adopted its formal proposal to make 2022 the European Year of Youth. Europe needs the vision, engagement and participation of all young people to build a better future, that is greener, more inclusive and digital. With this proposal, Europe is striving to give young people more and better opportunities for the future. The Commission is also publishing its latest EU Youth Report, which provides an overview of the situation of young Europeans in terms of education, training, learning, employment, and civic and political participation.

With the European Year of Youth, the Commission intends, in co-operation with the European Parliament, member states, regional and local authorities, stakeholders and young people themselves: 

  • To honour and support the generation that has sacrificed the most during the pandemic, giving them new hopes, strength and confidence in the future by highlighting how the green and digital transitions offer renewed perspectives and opportunities;
  • to encourage all young people, especially those with fewer opportunities, from disadvantaged backgrounds, from rural or remote areas, or belonging to vulnerable groups, to become active citizens and actors of positive change;
  • to promote opportunities provided by EU policies for young people to support their personal, social and professional development. The European Year of Youth will go hand in hand with the successful implementation of NextGenerationEU in providing quality jobs, education and training opportunities, and;
  • to draw inspiration from the actions, vision and insights of young people to further strengthen and invigorate the common EU project, building upon the Conference on the Future of Europe.

The Commission is currently developing its programme of activities and all interested parties will be invited to submit their ideas and proposals. A dedicated survey on the Youth Portal will be launched in the coming days. Working together with other EU institutions, member states, civil society organisations and young people, the Commission will organize a number of activities throughout the year at European, national, regional and local level and consider new initiatives. The scope of activities will cover issues that mostly affect young people, following the priorities highlighted in the Youth Goals, such as equality and inclusion, sustainability, mental health and well-being, and quality employment. They will involve young people beyond the EU. The Commission calls on member states to appoint a national co-ordinator responsible for organising their participation in the European Year of Youth.

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The Commission's proposal will now be discussed by Parliament and Council, with the opinions of the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions taken into account. The events and activities are expected to start in January.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “The pandemic has robbed young people of many opportunities - to meet and make new friends, to experience and explore new cultures. While we cannot give them that time back, we are proposing today to designate 2022 the European Year of Youth. From climate to social to digital, young people are at the heart of our policymaking and political priorities. We vow to listen to them, as we are doing in the Conference on the Future of Europe, and we want to work together to shape the future of the European Union. A Union that is stronger if it embraces the aspirations of our young people - grounded in values and bold in action.”

Promoting our European Way of Life Vice President Margaritis Schinas said: “Our Union is an area of freedom, values, opportunities and solidarity unique in the world. As we are emerging stronger together from the pandemic, the 2022 European Year of Youth will foster these principles for and with our younger generations across Europe. It is our duty to protect and empower them because their diversity, courage and boldness are essential for our future as Europeans.”

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Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Commissioner Mariya Gabriel said: “The European Year of Youth should bring a paradigm shift in how we include young people in policy and decision-making. The objectives of the Year are to listen, engage and promote concrete opportunities for youth. We also need to bridge the gap between generations. Today's young people are less interested in traditional forms of participation, but they are active in standing up for what they believe in, engaging in new ways. This Year wants to pay tribute and recognise the commitment of young people. With this Decision we start a co-creation process with all interested parties to contribute to the successful organisation of the Year.” 

Background

The European Year of Youth will go hand in hand with NextGenerationEU, which reopens perspectives for young people, including quality jobs and education and training opportunities for the Europe of the future, and supports young people's participation in society.

The Year of Youth will seek synergies and complementarity with other EU programmes targeting youth across the policy spectrum - from rural development programmes focussed on young farmers to research and innovation programmes, and from cohesion to climate change actions - including EU programmes with international outreach or of a transnational nature.

Besides, Erasmus+ and the European Solidarity Corps, with budgets of €28 billion and €1bn respectively for the current financial period, the EU's Youth Guarantee and Youth Employment Initiative are creating more opportunities for young people. While, in 2022 also, a new programme called ALMA will be launched to support cross-border professional mobility for disadvantaged young people.

The EU Youth Strategy 2019-2027 is the framework for EU youth policy co-operation. It supports youth participation in democratic life and aims to ensure that all young people take part in society. The EU Youth Dialogue is a central tool in these efforts.

Finally, the Conference on the Future of Europe, which will draw its conclusions also in 2022, ensures that the views and opinions of young people on the future of our Union are heard. One-third of participants in the European Citizens' Panels and of Panel representatives to the Conference Plenaries are also young people, while the president of the European Youth Forum also takes part in plenaries.

More information

EU Youth Report

European Youth Portal

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Defence

Essential infrastructure: New rules to boost co-operation and resilience

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Civil Liberties Committee MEPs endorse new rules to better protect essential services like energy, transport and drinking water.

With 57 votes in favour and six against (no abstentions), the Committee adopted its negotiation position on new rules on EU critical infrastructure entities. MEPs are aiming to better protect essential services (e.g. energy, transport, banking, drinking water and digital infrastructure) by improving member state resilience strategies and risk assessments.

Climate change is included as a potential source of disruption of essential infrastructure, and cyber-security is seen as an important aspect of resilience. As services are increasingly interdependent, the reformed directive requires local authorities to set up a single point of contact responsible for communicating with other jurisdictions. It also creates a new Critical Entities Resilience Group to facilitate communication between stakeholders, with Parliament participating as an observer.

MEPs push for broader scope, more transparency

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MEPs want to see more transparency when disruptions happen, requiring critical entities to inform the general public about incidents or serious risks. They also want to make sure that member states can provide financial support to critical entities, where this is in the public interest, without prejudice to state aid rules.

The Civil Liberties Committee proposes to widen the definition of essential services, so that protecting the environment, public health and safety, and the rule of law are also mentioned.

To make cross-border co-operation frictionless, MEPs finally want service providers to be considered “of European significance” if they offer similar services in at least three member states.

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After the vote, rapporteur Michal Šimečka (Renew, SK) said: "Critical entities provide essential services across the EU, while facing a growing number of both man-made and natural threats. Our ambition is to strengthen their ability to cope with risks to their operations while improving the functioning of the internal market in essential services. We are expected to deliver on a Europe that protects and that means also bolstering the collective resilience of the critical systems underpinning our way of life."

Background

The European Critical Infrastructure (ECI) directive currently covers only two sectors (transport and energy), whereas the reformed directive would expand this to ten (energy, transport, banking, financial market infrastructures, health, drinking water, waste water, digital infrastructure, public administration and space). At the same time, the new directive introduces an all-hazard risk approach, where the ECI was largely focused on terrorism.

Next steps

Before negotiations with the Council can start, the draft negotiating position will need to be endorsed by the whole house in a future session.

Further information 

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