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11 December 2014, 22:12 CET

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Assessing UK Trade Policy Readiness 19 April 2018, 17:30 CET
The UK is setting out on the path of an independent trade policy at a difficult time. Public interest in trade policy has never been greater, with US political rejection of a trade agreement negotiated by their government the prime example of the challenge of successfully pursuing a long-term strategy. The UK has a tradition of outward-oriented economic policy, but trade agreements are seen by many as a problem. Trade policy always has the potential for controversy. Domestic and international interests ask for the protection or promotion of their interests, and this is not fully possible, not least given some are contradictory. Successfully managing these trade-offs is at the heart of effective trade policy.

Under watchful eyes - biometrics, EU IT-systems and fundamental rights 28 March 2018, 17:50 CET
Europe's migration and security challenges have prompted the European Union (EU) to develop and enhance multiple large-scale information technology systems (IT systems). Policy and legal developments in this area are evolving rapidly. The European Commission has proposed amending the legal bases for Eurodac and the Schengen Information System (SIS II), and is expected to propose amending the Visa Information System (VIS) in 2018. In addition, four new systems are planned: the Entry-Exit System (EES), the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), the European Criminal Records Information System for Third-Country Nationals (ECRIS-TCN), and, most crucially, an IT system that seeks to ensure interoperability across existing and planned systems. Such systems provide invaluable support to border management efforts, but also have wide-ranging fundamental rights implications. The persons affected – including both regular travellers and persons who may be in situations of vulnerability - typically do not fully understand the implications of the use of such systems.

Assessing the exposure of EU27 regions and cities to the UK's withdrawal from the European Union - European Committee of the Regions 22 March 2018, 13:13 CET
The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) published a report on 20 March detailing the consequences of Brexit on trade and the economy in the EU27 regions and cities. Based heavily on data gathered from a joint survey with EUROCHAMBRES, the report reveals a lack of awareness, information and preparation and recommends greater flexibility in state aid rules and inter-regional cooperation. The CoR and EUROCHAMBRES conducted a survey of regional and city authorities and chambers of commerce to feed into a process of analysing and debating the exposure of EU27 regions and cities to Brexit.

The Resilience of Students with an Immigrant Background 20 March 2018, 21:26 CET
Migration flows are profoundly changing the composition of classrooms. Results from the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) reveal that in 2015, almost one in four 15-year-old students in OECD countries reported that they were either foreign-born or had at least one foreign-born parent. Between 2003 and 2015, the share of students who had either migrated or who had a parent who had migrated across international borders grew by six percentage points, on average across OECD countries. The Resilience of Students with an Immigrant Background: Factors that Shape Well-being reveals some of the difficulties students with an immigrant background encounter and where they receive the support they need. The report provides an in-depth analysis of the risk and protective factors that can undermine or promote the resilience of immigrant students. It explores the role that education systems, schools and teachers can play in helping these students integrate into their communities, overcome adversity, and build their academic, social, emotional and motivational resilience.

The Trump tariffs on steel and aluminium: the end of the WTO? 13 March 2018, 15:37 CET
There is no doubt that the recent announcement by the U.S. Administration of tariff hikes on steel and aluminium, justified on national security grounds, presents the real threat of an extremely damaging tit-for-tat trade war. If the tariffs are challenged at the WTO, there is the unwelcome prospect of the WTO having to rule on whether the U.S.'s "essential security interests", taken in time of an "emergency in international relations", constitute a justification of the measures under Article XXI of the GATT ("Security Exceptions").

A multi-dimensional approach to disinformation - Report of the independent High level Group on fake news and online disinformation 12 March 2018, 23:45 CET
In its report, the EU's High-Level Expert Group on Fake News and Disinformation spread online suggests a definition of the phenomenon and makes a series of recommendations. The independent experts advocate for a Code of Principles that online platforms and social networks should commit to.

2018 Report on equality between women and men in the EU 08 March 2018, 23:56 CET
The Commission is marking International Women's Day with the publication of a new report on equality between men and women, which shows the major achievements and progress made last year in EU legislation, actions and funding possibilities.

Information Disorder : Toward an interdisciplinary framework for research and policy making 27 February 2018, 15:46 CET
This report published by the Council of Europe examines the way in which dis-information campaigns have become widespread and, heavily relying on social media, contribute to a global media environment of information disorder. Whilst acknowledging that the direct and indirect impacts of "information pollution" are difficult to quantify, the report provides a conceptual framework and a structure for dialogue about information disorder by policymakers, legislators and researchers. It contains 35 recommendations to relevant stakeholders such as technology companies, national governments, media, civil society, and education ministries to help them identify suitable strategies to address the phenomenon. The report was commissioned by the Council of Europe in response to the growing concerns in EU member states about the long-term implications of dis-information campaigns that are designed specifically to sow mistrust and confusion, and to sharpen existing sociocultural divisions by exploiting nationalistic, ethnic, racial and religious tensions.

Legal Responses to Transnational and International Crimes - Towards an Integrative Approach 22 February 2018, 22:42 CET
This book critically reflects on the relationship between ‘core crimes’ which make up the subject matter jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (such as war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and aggression) and transnational crimes. The contributions in the book address the features of several transnational crimes and generally acknowledge that the boundaries between core crimes and transnational crimes are blurring. One of the major questions is whether, in view of this gradual merger of the categories, the distinction in legal regime is still warranted. Should prosecution and trial of transnational crimes be transferred from national to international jurisdictions?

Digital Companies and Their Fair Share of Taxes: Myths and Misconceptions 20 February 2018, 18:45 CET
Some (large) EU governments are making the case for digital companies to pay “their fair share of tax”. The key underlying assumption is that companies in the digital space are not doing so right now, and that there is a substantial source of untaxed profits that is waiting for the embrace of the taxman. The European Commission is now considering new revenue taxes on those companies that under some definition can be called “digital corporations”. In this paper, we provide a critical assessment of the underlying reasoning of the European Commission and those EU governments that currently are in favour of targeted taxes on digital revenues. There is indeed a good case to make for fair taxation and that uneven effective tax rates can distort competition and lead to smaller tax revenues. However, those that are calling for higher taxes on one particular group of firms – digital corporations – have yet to present the evidence for why that is motivated by principles of tax fairness. The selective focus on the world’s “top 100 companies by market capitalisation” and the world’s “top 5 e-commerce companies” does not reflect the reality of the international business landscape, and therefore conveys a highly misleading picture about European and international companies’ profit margins and effective corporate tax rates. Moreover, real world financial data show that the average corporate tax rates of many digital companies actually exceed the European Commission’s “hypothetical" estimates for the EU by about 20 to 50 percentage points. Ideas to slap a targeted tax on digital revenues clash with the EU’s top policy priorities for the digital economy. It is therefore remarkable that such taxes even are considered. A tax on digital revenues would not only stand in opposition to tax efficiency and neutrality; it would also undermine digitalisation, European integration, and the Digital Single Market.

Stealing thunder - Will cyber espionage be allowed to hold Europe back in the global race for industrial competitiveness? 07 February 2018, 13:42 CET
European and US officials warn that foreign governments are hacking into "everything that doesn't move" to steal commercial secrets. Europe is securing personal information with all its might, but what about business information? Information like ongoing contract negotiations, customer and marketing data, product designs and R&D are commonly uploaded to the cloud already today. The risk of hacking is increasing exponentially as 26 billion personal devices, business and industrial equipment are about to become seamlessly connected in Industry 4.0. Within five years, an entire connected business can be copy-pasted, stolen and handed over to a competitor by a government-sponsored hacking group. While all governments spy, ipso facto. But only a few do so to hand over the information to their industry. Spying is highly lucrative, especially for emerging countries.

The Future of Farming - UK agricultural policy after Brexit 31 January 2018, 23:45 CET
In a new report for Policy Network, Charlie Cadywould looks at how competing visions of Brexit might impact British agriculture in the coming years, offering a set of radical progressive alternatives for future policy. He urges Labour to reach out to the Conservative-dominated countryside, with creative thinking towards rural policy more generally. This report sets out how competing visions of Brexit may impact the British agriculture sector in the coming years, and sets out a radical set of alternatives for future policy. It is aimed specifcally at a progressive audience for whom farmers, and rural communities more generally, have not historically been considered natural allies or constituents.

Small Business. Big Opportunity - The challenges and prospects for UK SMEs 26 January 2018, 11:53 CET
SMEs may be worst affected by Brexit. Dun & Bradsreet joined forces with the Small Business Research Centre and surveyed 500 small business owners to find out more about the key challenges and opportunities they are facing.

Blockchain and Trade: Not a Fix for Brexit, but Could Revolutionise Global Value Chains (If Governments Let It) 19 January 2018, 12:03 CET
One of the most tone-deaf suggestions in the Brexit proceedings so far came in August 2017, when the UK Brexit team released a long-awaited position paper setting out its proposal on how to manage its border with Ireland. It suggested that "technology-based solutions" – meaning blockchain, the technology behind cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin – could be implemented to "make it easier to comply with customs procedures."

Long-term unemployed youth: Characteristics and policy responses 18 December 2017, 22:49 CET
While the youth labour market has improved considerably since 2014, one legacy of the recent economic crisis is the large cohort of long-term unemployed young people, which represents nearly one-third of jobless young people. This report provides an updated profile of the youth labour market in 2016 and describes trends over the past decade. It explores the determinants of long-term unemployment, at both sociodemographic and macroeconomic levels. It also provides evidence on the serious consequences for young people of spending a protracted time in unemployment, such as scarring effects on income and occupation and on several dimensions of young people’s well-being. The report concludes with a discussion of selected policy measures recently implemented by 10 Member States in order to prevent young people from becoming long-term unemployed or, if they are in such circumstances, to integrate them into the labour market or education.

The Missing Entrepreneurs 2017 07 December 2017, 13:14 CET
The Missing Entrepreneurs 2017 is the fourth edition in a series of publications that examine how public policies at national, regional and local levels can support job creation, economic growth and social inclusion by overcoming obstacles to business start-ups and self-employment by people from disadvantaged or under-represented groups in entrepreneurship. It shows that there is substantial potential to combat unemployment and increase labour market participation by facilitating business creation in populations such as women, youth, the unemployed, and migrants. However, the specific problems they face need to be recognised and addressed with effective and efficient policy measures.

Second European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey (EU-MIDIS II) 06 December 2017, 22:54 CET
Seventeen years after adoption of EU laws that forbid discrimination, immigrants, descendants of immigrants, and minority ethnic groups continue to face widespread discrimination across the EU and in all areas of life - most often when seeking employment. For many, discrimination is a recurring experience. This is just one of the findings of FRA's second European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey (EU-MIDIS II), which collected information from over 25,500 respondents with different ethnic minority and immigrant backgrounds across all 28 EU Member States.

Drugs and the darknet: perspectives for enforcement, research and policy 28 November 2017, 23:11 CET
This joint report prepared by the EMCDDA and Europol considers the latest findings from international research, fresh empirical data, and operational information and intelligence in order to illuminate how darknet markets function and how they relate to criminal behaviour. The publication adopts an EU focus of what is a global phenomenon. It is comprehensive but accessible and policy-oriented, intended to facilitate discussions at EU-level on how to respond to darknet drug markets, whilst identifying key priority areas that require attention and where activities are likely to have most impact.

Restrictions to Cross-Border Data Flows: a Taxonomy 28 November 2017, 14:16 CET
Strict privacy regimes, requests to use local data centres and outright bans to transfer data abroad are a few examples of policies imposed recently that restrict data from crossing national or regional borders. This paper is the first one to propose a comprehensive taxonomy of these restrictions, which has a bearing on international trade law. Restrictions on cross-border data flows may affect countries’ legal commitments under various trade agreements, including the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). This taxonomy can be the basis of further legal and economic research to assess the legitimacy and necessity of these under international trade law.

Annual report on European SMEs 2016-2017 - Focus on self-employment 23 November 2017, 15:44 CET
The 2016/2017 annual report on European SMEs is now available. It presents good news: SME recovery continues. The annual report, prepared on a yearly basis, provides a synopsis of the size, structure and importance of SMEs to the European economy and an overview of the past and forecasted performance of SMEs from 2008 to 2018. Comparisons with partner countries outside the EU and with the large enterprise sector are also included.

Air Quality in European cities - Urban PM2.5 Atlas 16 November 2017, 22:33 CET
Many European cities suffer from poor air quality and regularly exceed both the European standards prescribed by the Air Quality Directive and the guidelines recommended by the World Health Organization. This is particularly the case for fine particulate matter (PM10) for which both the daily and yearly average limit values are regularly exceeded in many cities and several regions in Europe. Similar conclusions hold for PM2.5 where few cities manage to keep concentrations below the levels recommended by the WHO. Actions have been proposed and taken at the international, national and urban scales to reduce air pollution. While they have undoubtedly resulted in an overall improvement of the air quality over the years, there are still problems which are localised in specific regions and many cities. A key issue is thus to determine at which scale to act in order to abate these remaining air pollution problems most effectively. Central to this for cities, is a quantitative assessment of the different origins of air pollution in the city (urban, regional, national and transboundary) to support the design of efficient and effective air quality plans, which are a legal obligation for countries and regions whenever exceedances occur. The “Screening for High Emission Reduction Potentials for Air quality” tool (SHERPA) has been developed by the Joint Research Centre to quantify the origins of air pollution in cities and regions. In this Atlas, both the spatial (urban, country…) and sectoral (transport, residential, agriculture…) contributions are quantified for 150 European urban areas in Europe, where many of the current exceedances to the air quality EU limit values and WHO guidelines are reported. There is a need to provide information to improve air quality policy governance, to support authorities in choosing the most efficient actions at the appropriate administrative level and scale. In particular, actions at the local level focusing on the urban scale and at national/international level needs to be carefully balanced. Key conclusions are: • For many cities, local actions at the city scale are an effective means of improving air quality in that city. The overall conclusion is that cities have a role to play by taking actions at their own scale. It is important to emphasise that the emissions in cities contribute significantly to country and EU overall PM concentrations, reinforcing the important role of cities in reducing the air pollution through a multilevel approach. • Impacts of abatement measures on air quality are city specific The impact of a given abatement measure on air quality differs from city to city, even for cities that are located in the same country. Actions taken at different scales or in different activity sectors therefore lead to impacts on air quality that are city-specific. The diversity of possible responses to abatement measures stresses the need to take into account these city-specific circumstances when designing air quality plans. Actions that are efficient in one city might not be efficient in others. • Sectoral measures addressing agriculture at country or EU scale would have a clear benefit on urban air quality. Although agricultural emissions are limited in the "city" as defined here, agriculture considerably impacts air quality in many EU cities. The extent of the impact of agriculture on air quality is indicative of the potential of EU- or country-wide measures addressing this sector. Moreover, other sectoral measures can have an important potential at the urban scale even though they are applied at EU or country scale. This is the case of road transport where the EURO norms are, in practice, most effective in the areas where traffic is most important, i.e. cities.

Special report No 17/2017: The Commission's intervention in the Greek financial crisis 16 November 2017, 15:46 CET
The European Court of Auditors examined the European Commission's management of the three Economic Adjustment Programmes for Greece, bearing in mind the institutional set-up of the different financial assistance instruments used. In relation to the ongoing programme, the audit focused only on the design aspects. Funding for the first programme (GLF), in 2010, was 110 billion euros; for the second (EFSF; 2012) it was 172.6 billion euros and for the third (ESM; 2015) it was 86 billion euros. As of mid-2017, Greece still requires external financial support and the ECA found that the objectives of the programmes were met only to a limited extent. Overall, the programmes' design did make the progress of reform in Greece possible, but weaknesses were found. The ECA makes a number of recommendations to the Commission for future support programmes.

Education and Training Monitor 2017 10 November 2017, 11:40 CET
The European Commission published on 9 November the 2017 edition of the Education and Training Monitor, which analyses and compares the main challenges for European education systems. The Monitor shows that national education systems are becoming more inclusive and effective. Yet it also confirms that students' educational attainment largely depends on their socio-economic backgrounds.

Implementation of EU Free Trade Agreements 1 January 2016 - 31 December 2016 09 November 2017, 22:35 CET
The European Commission published on 9 November 2017 a report assessing the implementation of the EU's existing trade agreements. This is another step towards a fully transparent and inclusive trade policy, in line with the Commission's commitments set out in the EU's 2015 'Trade for All' strategy. The report shows that the export increases observed for the agreements negotiated in the past amount to as much as 416% for Mexico, 170% for Chile, and around 60% for South Korea and Serbia. The agricultural and car sectors appear to be benefiting the most (e.g. 244% increase in car exports to South Korea since 2011 and 92% and 73% increase to Colombia and Peru respectively for agricultural goods since 2013).

Citizenship Education at School in Europe 2017 - Eurydice Report 08 November 2017, 13:30 CET
There has been a strong focus in recent years on the promotion of citizenship education, as a result of the increasing threats to fundamental values such as peace, equality and human rights Europe is faced with, and several countries are making changes to their policies in this area. But what is citizenship education? How is it taught? How are students evaluated? Can citizenship skills be developed outside the classroom? What training and support do teachers receive? The report is divided into four chapters, each of which is complemented by a case study on recent policy initiatives: Curriculum Organisation and Content; Teaching, Learning and Active Participation; Student Assessment and School Evaluation; Teacher Education, Professional Development and Support

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Libcast’s Online Video Platform in the limelight at BETT 2015 28 January 2015, 16:17 CET
Libcast of France will be showcasing its Online Video Platform at BETT 2015 in London, in January. The specialist company’s innovative and versatile solution enables users to host, manage and broadcast lectures live or in streaming mode. With 200,000 users, Libcast’s technology has already been chosen by many universities and schools, including leading colleges in France and Norway.

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