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Coronavirus in the 'Disunited States of America'

30-10-2020

The potential of the ongoing pandemic to accelerate already existing or underlying trends has become particularly visible ahead of the Presidential election in the United States. The coronavirus crisis has boosted environmental factors that can increase radicalisation, while at the same time intensifying the spread of conspiracy theories that can have a similar effect. The accelerated 'truth decay' and the partisan polarisation of the debate about the handling of the continued surge in Covid 19 cases ...

The potential of the ongoing pandemic to accelerate already existing or underlying trends has become particularly visible ahead of the Presidential election in the United States. The coronavirus crisis has boosted environmental factors that can increase radicalisation, while at the same time intensifying the spread of conspiracy theories that can have a similar effect. The accelerated 'truth decay' and the partisan polarisation of the debate about the handling of the continued surge in Covid 19 cases and deaths will likely further undermine trust in institutions, while accelerated societal anxiety could increase the potential for post-election tension.

The coronavirus pandemic in Latin America

30-10-2020

Latin America is among the regions of the world worst affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, and its economies, employment and even human rights will suffer seriously. Governments, and regional and international organisations, including the EU, are making efforts to mitigate the consequences, but the results remain uncertain.

Latin America is among the regions of the world worst affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, and its economies, employment and even human rights will suffer seriously. Governments, and regional and international organisations, including the EU, are making efforts to mitigate the consequences, but the results remain uncertain.

Amazon deforestation and EU-Mercosur deal

29-10-2020

After coming to a political agreement on the trade pillar of the three-pronged EU-Mercosur association agreement in June 2019, the EU and the four founding members of Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) reached agreement on the political dialogue and cooperation parts in July 2020. However, as environmental deregulation and deforestation continue unabated in Brazil, opposition to the deal is growing. It is unlikely to be submitted to the European Parliament for consent in its current ...

After coming to a political agreement on the trade pillar of the three-pronged EU-Mercosur association agreement in June 2019, the EU and the four founding members of Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) reached agreement on the political dialogue and cooperation parts in July 2020. However, as environmental deregulation and deforestation continue unabated in Brazil, opposition to the deal is growing. It is unlikely to be submitted to the European Parliament for consent in its current form. A study of the trade pillar's provisions concludes that, taking the risk of deforestation into account, the deal's environmental costs are likely to exceed its economic gains. This raises doubts as to whether Brazil's compliance with its climate change commitments can realistically be achieved based on provisions devoid of an effective enforcement mechanism.

EU foreign, security and defence policies [What Think Tanks are thinking]

27-10-2020

The European Union faces multifaceted foreign security and defence policy challenges. First and foremost, it awaits the outcome of the US Presidential election, which is set to determine in significant part global economic and political developments in the short to medium term. The Union also faces a tough choice about how to treat China: more as a rival or as a partner, and in which areas? An increasingly assertive Russia represents yet another challenge. The EU’s stance on climate, migration, Africa ...

The European Union faces multifaceted foreign security and defence policy challenges. First and foremost, it awaits the outcome of the US Presidential election, which is set to determine in significant part global economic and political developments in the short to medium term. The Union also faces a tough choice about how to treat China: more as a rival or as a partner, and in which areas? An increasingly assertive Russia represents yet another challenge. The EU’s stance on climate, migration, Africa, terrorism and developments in its near neighbourhood add to this complex scene. This note offers links to recent commentaries, studies and reports from major international think tanks on EU foreign, security and defence policies.

Plenary round-up – October II 2020

26-10-2020

During the second October 2020 plenary session – the first at which Members were able to speak remotely, and not only vote, from the Member States – the European Commission presented its 2021 work programme, which Members largely welcomed. Members also discussed the conclusions of the 15 16 October 2020 European Council meeting, EU measures to mitigate the social and economic impact of Covid 19, police brutality within the EU, the sale of EU passports and visas to criminals, the State of the Energy ...

During the second October 2020 plenary session – the first at which Members were able to speak remotely, and not only vote, from the Member States – the European Commission presented its 2021 work programme, which Members largely welcomed. Members also discussed the conclusions of the 15 16 October 2020 European Council meeting, EU measures to mitigate the social and economic impact of Covid 19, police brutality within the EU, the sale of EU passports and visas to criminals, the State of the Energy Union and aligning the Energy Charter Treaty with the European Green Deal. Parliament announced that its 2020 Sakharov Prize will be awarded on 16 December to the Belarusian opposition, in particular the Coordinating Council, for 'an initiative launched by courageous women'.

Four EU scenarios for governance in a post Covid-19 world

26-10-2020

Scarcity of medical equipment during the COVID-19 crisis, and the ensuing discussion on ‘reshoring’ certain industries back to Europe, have brought back an old dilemma. Namely, countries wish to be strategically independent while depending on products and resources from other countries to fulfil their economic needs. This reflects the debate about whether markets or governments are better at delivering solutions. We can also define this debate as a choice between ‘competitive capitalism’ and ‘strategic ...

Scarcity of medical equipment during the COVID-19 crisis, and the ensuing discussion on ‘reshoring’ certain industries back to Europe, have brought back an old dilemma. Namely, countries wish to be strategically independent while depending on products and resources from other countries to fulfil their economic needs. This reflects the debate about whether markets or governments are better at delivering solutions. We can also define this debate as a choice between ‘competitive capitalism’ and ‘strategic autonomy’. Calls for strategic autonomy have increased since the COVID-19 crisis, at national and EU level. However, strategic autonomy conflicts with the achievements of international cooperative governance. This introduces another dilemma: the choice between interests and values. Pursuing interests alone leads to a vicious cycle of increased competition between markets and between states, ultimately deteriorating into imperialism. Developing value-oriented actions at government and market level can break that vicious cycle. Value-oriented concepts already form part of many EU policies, which place substantial emphasis on environmental and social rights. When ethical values become an integral part of business and government decisions, this is called ‘due diligence’. We can define value-oriented international cooperation between governments as ‘cooperative governance’. Similarly, we can define ethical and value oriented action by private actors — whether NGOs or businesses — as ‘ethical capitalism’. Putting the two dichotomies on a grid creates a model of four possible scenarios for action which can aid our understanding of ongoing discussions on governance in a post COVID-19 world. EU policy makers could also use these scenarios as alternative ways of shaping EU and foreign policy. The management of natural resources, ranging from water, land, forests, energy resources and metals to rare earths, shows a counter-clockwise development through the scenarios. Moving away from unregulated markets, extraction and use were gradually regulated by national governments, who competed against each other in an imperialist setting. The transnational nature of economic and environmental problems has increasingly brought them into the scope of international cooperative governance. Ethical capitalism (changing market forces from within) is a relatively new development complementing government action. Progress through the scenarios is not always sequential: actors face pressures to switch between them. We can draw lessons for governance in a post COVID-19 world from the experiences of natural resources management. This study is the first on ´global trends in external policies´, aiming to develop forward-looking and strategic analyses.

Towards a mandatory EU system of due diligence for supply chains

22-10-2020

The growth of international supply chains has undoubtedly brought enormous benefits to developing countries, but at the same time it has had certain negative impacts, relating for instance to violations of human and labour rights, including forced labour and child labour, environmental damage, land grabbing, and corruption. Multinational companies have gained unprecedented power, creating asymmetries in relation to weak regulation and enforcement in developing countries. For several decades, multinational ...

The growth of international supply chains has undoubtedly brought enormous benefits to developing countries, but at the same time it has had certain negative impacts, relating for instance to violations of human and labour rights, including forced labour and child labour, environmental damage, land grabbing, and corruption. Multinational companies have gained unprecedented power, creating asymmetries in relation to weak regulation and enforcement in developing countries. For several decades, multinational companies have been encouraged to take responsibility for their supply chains on a voluntary basis. Whereas in some sectors, where violations have been most egregious, particularly in the extractive industries or in timber extraction, mandatory frameworks have already been adopted at EU level, for others it was hoped that the voluntary approach, guided by several international frameworks, would suffice. The evidence available, however, from academic research, civil society organisations, implementation of the EU Non-financial Reporting Directive, and studies commissioned by the EU institutions, has made it clear that the voluntary approach is not enough. Against this background, many voices consider that the EU should adopt mandatory due diligence legislation. Human rights and the environment stand out as two areas where such legislation would be both most needed and most effective. Beyond its expected intrinsic positive impact, such legislation would have important advantages, such as creating a level playing field among all companies operating on the EU market, bringing legal clarity, and establishing effective enforcement and sanction mechanisms, while possibly improving access to remedy for those affected, by establishing civil and legal liability for companies. The European Commission has undertaken some preliminary steps, including publishing a study and conducting public consultations, towards a possible legislative initiative on mandatory due diligence, but such an initiative has not been included in its 2021 work programme.

Another revolution in Kyrgyzstan?

22-10-2020

Kyrgyzstan is the only ex-Soviet Central Asian country to have achieved a measure of democracy, but it is also highly volatile. Massive protests broke out after irregularities in the October 2020 parliamentary elections, toppling the government. Ex-convict, Sadyr Japarov, is now the country's prime minister and acting president. New parliamentary and presidential elections are planned for December 2020 and January 2021.

Kyrgyzstan is the only ex-Soviet Central Asian country to have achieved a measure of democracy, but it is also highly volatile. Massive protests broke out after irregularities in the October 2020 parliamentary elections, toppling the government. Ex-convict, Sadyr Japarov, is now the country's prime minister and acting president. New parliamentary and presidential elections are planned for December 2020 and January 2021.

Amending the European Fund for Sustainable Development

19-10-2020

The EU is in the process of adapting its budgetary instruments to respond to the consequences of the coronavirus crisis, in particular in raising the established ceilings for some financial instruments. The proposed adjustments include, among other things, measures aimed at helping the most fragile third countries recover from the consequences of the pandemic. In particular, on 28 May 2020, the European Commission put forward a proposal concerning the European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD ...

The EU is in the process of adapting its budgetary instruments to respond to the consequences of the coronavirus crisis, in particular in raising the established ceilings for some financial instruments. The proposed adjustments include, among other things, measures aimed at helping the most fragile third countries recover from the consequences of the pandemic. In particular, on 28 May 2020, the European Commission put forward a proposal concerning the European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD) in order to expand its coverage and raise the funds dedicated to leverage private investment for sustainable development and the guarantees to de-risk such investment. On 21 July 2020, the European Council rejected the draft amending budget that would have provided increased EFSD funding for the current year.

Understanding US Presidential elections

16-10-2020

In August 2020, the two major political parties in the United States (US), the Democrats and the Republicans, formally nominated their respective candidates for the 59th US presidential election, which takes place on Tuesday, 3 November 2020. An initially crowded field of contenders in the Democratic primaries developed into a two-horse race between former US Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders, with Biden declared the Democratic nominee on 18 August. He will now contest the presidential ...

In August 2020, the two major political parties in the United States (US), the Democrats and the Republicans, formally nominated their respective candidates for the 59th US presidential election, which takes place on Tuesday, 3 November 2020. An initially crowded field of contenders in the Democratic primaries developed into a two-horse race between former US Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders, with Biden declared the Democratic nominee on 18 August. He will now contest the presidential election against the Republican candidate, who faced no significant primary challenge, the incumbent US President, Donald Trump. The US President is simultaneously head of state, head of government and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. Presidential elections are therefore a hugely important part of American political life. Although millions of Americans vote in presidential elections every four years, the President is not, in fact, directly elected by the people. Citizens elect the members of the Electoral College, who then cast their votes for the President and Vice-President. While key elements of the presidential election are spelled out in the US Constitution, other aspects have been shaped by state laws, national party rules and state party rules. This explains why presidential campaigns have evolved over time, from the days when presidential candidates were nominated in the House of Representatives by the 'king caucus', to an almost exclusively party-dominated ‘convention’ system, and finally to the modern system of nominations based very largely on primary elections, introduced progressively to increase the participation of party supporters in the selection process. A number of additional developments have also played an important role in shaping today's presidential elections, notably political party efforts to limit 'front-loading' of primaries; the organisation of the Electoral College system and the changes to the campaign financing system. A previous version of this Briefing, written by Carmen-Cristina Cîrlig and Micaela Del Monte, was published in 2016.

Προσεχείς εκδηλώσεις

09-11-2020
EPRS online Book Talk | The revolutions of 1989-90 thirty years on [...]
Άλλη δραστηριότητα -
EPRS
09-11-2020
Sexual harassment in the EU institutions - Public Hearing
Ακρόαση -
FEMM
10-11-2020
The Annual Rule of Law Report by the Commission and the Role of National Parliaments
Άλλη δραστηριότητα -
LIBE

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