Belgium suffers major cyberattack

Belgium suffered a major cyberattack on Tuesday, Belgian media reported, affecting many of its key institutions. It’s origin is still unknown. Belnet’s internet network, which connects public institutions, higher education and university establishments, research centres and public administrations, has been…

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Study – Implementation of citizenship education actions in the EU – 03-08-2021

In December 2020, the European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) requested the drawing up of an own-initiative report on the implementation of the citizenship education actions (2021/2008(INI)). Mr Domènec Ruiz Devesa (S&D, Spain) was appointed rapporteur. This European implementation assessment (EIA) has been prepared to accompany the CULT committee in its scrutiny work on the implementation of citizenship education actions in the European Union. The first part of the EIA presents an overview of the EU policy framework for citizenship education, while the second part presents actions in the field of citizenship education supported by EU funding programmes, in particular the Erasmus+ and Horizon 2020 programmes. The second part also presents citizenship education policies and practices in 10 EU Member States.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

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 – Re-starting tourism in the EU amid the pandemic – 13-07-2021

Tourism plays an enormously important role in the EU economy and society. It generates foreign exchange, supports jobs and businesses, and drives forward local development and cultural exchanges. It also makes places more attractive, not only as destinations to visit but also as locations to live, work, invest and study. Furthermore, as tourism is closely linked with many other sectors – particularly transport – it also affects the wider economy. The coronavirus pandemic has hit the tourism sector hard. The impact on various tourist destinations in the EU has been asymmetrical and highly localised, reflecting differences in types of tourism on offer, varying travel restrictions, the size of domestic tourism markets, level of exposure to international tourism, and the importance of tourism in the local economy. At the beginning of summer 2021, several EU Member States started to remove certain travel restrictions (such as the requirements for quarantine or testing for fully vaccinated travellers coming from certain countries). However, all continue to apply many sanitary and health measures (such as limits on the number of people in common areas, and cleaning and disinfection of spaces). Such measures and restrictions change in line with the evolving public health situation, sometimes at short notice, making recovery difficult for the sector. The EU and its Member States have provided the tourism sector with financial and other support. Some measures were already adopted in 2020. Others were endorsed only shortly before the beginning of summer 2021. One flagship action has been the speedy adoption of an EU Digital Covid Certificate. This certificate harmonises, at EU level, proof of vaccination, Covid-19 test results and certified recovery from the virus. However, it does not end the patchwork of travel rules. Despite efforts to harmonise travel rules at Council level, Member States still apply different rules to various categories of traveller (such as children or travellers arriving from third countries).

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

Briefing – Measures to advance the realisation of the trans-European transport network: Integrated and faster project procedures – 02-07-2021

With the trans-European transport network (TEN-T) policy, the European Union seeks to develop a modern, efficient and climate-friendly network covering all transport modes. Despite the TEN-T’s importance for the economy and society, and despite the binding timelines and targeted financial support, it risks not being completed as planned. This is partly due to complex administrative procedures linked to permit-granting for cross-border projects as well as broader regulatory uncertainty, often resulting in delays and increased cost. To speed up the network’s completion, the Commission has proposed regulatory measures to integrate and shorten permit-granting for projects, and facilitate public consultations and the involvement of private investors. On 8 June 2020, the Parliament and the Council agreed on a ‘smart TEN-T directive’, with this legal form giving Member States more flexibility. The text could not however be adopted before the finalisation of the new Connecting Europe Facility programme, as the annexes of both texts are interlinked. The Council adopted its first-reading position on the ‘smart TEN-T directive’ on 14 June 2021 and the Parliament is due to vote on it during the July plenary session. Third edition. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

Briefing – Artificial Intelligence and public services – 22-07-2021

AI has become a key enabling technology in public services and its use has increased over the past two years.Ensuring explainabilty of AI systems in public services is crucial but difficult to achieve in case of black-box algorithms. In AI applications in public services, focus is on law enforcement, surveillance and process optimisation. AI for front-end public services seems less of a priority. There is a growing public concern over the development and use of AI in society. With the increase of its use, the potential for errors and harms also increases.The public sector should lead the way in creating trustworthy AI. Regulatory sandboxing and pre-procurement are key for creating trustworthy AI for public services.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

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