At a Glance – Regulation of the digital sector: EU-US Explainer – 28-07-2021

With online platforms and markets enmeshed in our societies and economies, the need to revisit and update existing digital regulations is becoming increasingly apparent. The debate around these reforms in the US, the EU and elsewhere touches on fundamental questions of privacy, transparency and free speech and the dynamic between private firms and governmental oversight is complex. While online platforms play a salient role in daily life, both the US and the EU continue to operate with regulations dating back over a generation. As significant challenges regarding illegal and harmful online content and moderation liability continue to have real world effects today, both the EU and the US are currently considering precedent-setting updates.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

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Briefing – EU rural development policy: Impact, challenges and outlook – 08-07-2021

On 30 June 2021, the European Commission adopted a communication on its long-term vision for the EU’s rural areas. The communication identifies areas of action with a view to creating new momentum for the EU’s rural areas, while recognising their diversity. In recent decades, in many Member States rural areas have experienced depopulation. Such regions face a range of environmental and socio-economic challenges. These include, for example, lower income per capita, a higher percentage of the population at risk of poverty and social exclusion, a lack of access to basic infrastructure and services, and lower levels of access to fast broadband internet. The EU’s rural development policy has sought to help address these challenges. Evaluation evidence is emerging on the impact of the common agricultural policy (CAP) on the territorial development of the EU’s rural areas. Measures relating to village renewal and LEADER (Liaison entre Actions de Développement de l’Économie rurale) measures are considered to be well-targeted and relevant to local needs, although they represent a small proportion of CAP financing. Administrative burdens have been raised as an issue that can impact on the developmental process. Recommendations from this evaluation evidence point to the need for better integration of funding streams, the need to maintain a dialogue across the European structural funds, and all the implications this may have for the new CAP strategic plans. The Commission’s recommendations to Member States on their CAP strategic plans highlight a number of recurring themes relating to the employment, education and training needs of rural areas, including the need to address rural depopulation, promote generational renewal, improve connectivity, and address the role played by action taken at local level. The Commission’s communication on a long-term vision for rural areas includes provision for a ‘rural pact’ to engage actors at EU, national, rural and local levels and an EU rural action plan, setting out a range of initiatives and actionable projects. The vision and its supporting analyses will provide a framework for addressing the future of the EU’s rural areas.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

Briefing – Mental health and the pandemic – 09-07-2021

While the pandemic is primarily a physical health crisis, it has also had widespread impact on people’s mental health, inducing, among other things, considerable levels of fear, worry, and concern. The growing burden on mental health has been referred to by some as the ‘second’ or ‘silent’ pandemic. While negative mental health consequences affect all ages, young people, in particular, have been found to be at high risk of developing poor mental health. Specific groups have been particularly hard hit, including health and care workers, people with pre-existing mental health problems, and women. The pandemic has also appeared to increase inequalities in mental health, both within the population and between social groups. To address the population’s increased psycho-social needs, the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe established an expert group on the mental health impacts of Covid-19 in the European region. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has issued analyses and guidance on mental health in general and the pandemic’s impact on mental health in particular. At European Union level, a December 2020 European Commission communication addressed the pandemic’s impact on mental health. In May 2021, the Commission organised a major online stakeholder event, and published best practice examples of solutions presented. A July 2020 European Parliament resolution recognises mental health as a fundamental human right, calling for a 2021-2027 EU action plan on mental health. Members of the European Parliament have also called on the Commission to put mental health at the heart of EU policymaking. Stakeholders broadly rally around calls for programmes and funding to improve citizens’ mental health, not least to respond to the pandemic’s long-term implications.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

At a Glance – Bilateral trade: EU-US Explainer – 28-07-2021

The EU and the US are each other’s biggest economic partners, but have not yet been able to conclude a free trade agreement. Politically sensitive bilateral trade issues include US access to EU agricultural markets, EU access to US public procurement markets, data privacy regulations, climate policies, and taxation and regulation of major − chiefly American − digital service providers in the EU market.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

Briefing – Understanding initial coin offerings: A new means of raising funds based on blockchain – 13-07-2021

Initial coin offerings (ICOs) are a relatively new method of raising capital for early-stage ventures. They allow businesses to raise capital for their projects, by issuing digital tokens in exchange for crypto assets or fiat currencies. They constitute an alternative to more traditional sources of start-up funding such as venture capital (VC) and angel finance. ICOs can potentially offer advantages in comparison with traditional ways of raising capital. At the same time, their opacity and the general tendency for issuers to exploit regulatory loopholes can carry significant risk for investors, may make ICOs vulnerable to money laundering and terrorist financing, and could even create financial stability concerns. ICOs have been met with a wide range of initial regulatory responses: from an outright ban in the case of China and South Korea, to more supportive approaches in other jurisdictions, with Singapore in Asia and Switzerland in Europe leading the way. As for the European Union (EU) and the United States, the relevant regulatory agencies initially published warning notices, reinforced by statements that securities laws could apply and registration be necessary. The EU went a step further and is currently seeking to partially regulate ICOs, with a proposal for a regulation on markets in crypto-assets (MiCA regulation). Meanwhile, some Member States are currently implementing regulatory sandboxes, to provide an impetus for innovation without imposing the immediate burden of regulation.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

In-Depth Analysis – Euro Area fiscal policies and capacity in post-pandemic times – 23-07-2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has created huge challenges for policymakers in the whole world. These challenges have to do with both the short run and the long run. In addition, in the euro area, these challenges have dimensions that are peculiar to the fact that the euro area is a monetary union with one monetary authority and nineteen separate budgetary authorities. In this policy brief, the author provides some answer to two questions: • Which policy mix (national/supranational) supports smooth recovery, sustainability of public finances and resilience of the euro area? • Which EMU governance reforms should be prioritised so as to improve the functioning of the euro area?

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

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