Briefing – European Union data challenge – 28-07-2021

The exponential growth and importance of data generated in industrial settings have attracted the attention of policymakers aiming to create a suitable legal framework for its use. While the term ‘industrial data’ has no clear definition, such data possess certain distinctive characteristics: they are a subset of big data collected in a structured manner and within industrial settings; they are frequently proprietary and contain various types of sensitive data. The GDPR rules remain of great relevance for such data, as personal data is difficult to be filtered out from mixed datasets and anonymisation techniques are not always effective. The current and planned rules relevant for B2B sharing of industrial data exhibit many shortcomings. They lack clarity on key issues (e.g. mixed datasets), increase the administrative burden for companies, yet not always provide the data protection that businesses need. They do not provide an additional value proposition for B2B data sharing and hinder it in some cases. While this situation warrants policy intervention, both the instrument and its content should be carefully considered. Instead of a legal instrument, soft law could clarify the existing rules; model terms and conditions could be developed and promoted and data standardisation and interoperability efforts supported.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

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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 – 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 – Fighting discrimination in sport – 09-07-2021

Even though the European Union (EU) has built an extensive framework of legislation, instances of racism and homophobia in sport are still rife. Interestingly, Eurostat surveys reveal that the feeling of discrimination is more widespread than actual discrimination. Although there are some variations, discrimination in sport very frequently involves stigmatisation on the basis of external characteristics such as skin colour, body shape and gender. Data from 2017 show that some 3 % of respondents claimed to have experienced racist violence in the previous year, with another 24 % being exposed to racist harassment in that period. Worryingly, the results of a 2018 poll confirm that the vast majority of respondents (90 %) perceive homo/transphobia to be a problem in sport, with gay men feeling homophobia to be a bigger problem than lesbian/gay women and bisexual people. Action against discrimination at EU level is grounded in an established EU legal framework, based on a number of Treaty provisions – in particular Articles 2 and 3 of the Treaty on European Union, and Articles 10, 19 and 67(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The general principles of non-discrimination and equality are also reaffirmed in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. This legal arsenal is completed by a number of directives and framework decisions – such as the Racial Equality Directive, the Victims’ Rights Directive and the Framework Decision on Combating Racism and Xenophobia, to name but a few – aimed at increasing individual protection. The objectives of the sports strand of the Erasmus+ programme include combatting violence, discrimination and intolerance in sport and providing funding for various projects such as the setting up of LGBTQI+ sports clubs in central and eastern Europe, increasing inclusion in sport, and by bringing together partners who traditionally face barriers to participation, such as women, the LGBTQI+ community and people with disabilities. In addition, since 2016, the European Commission has supported the Council of Europe in promoting safety and security at sports events. In recent years, the Gay Games and the European Gay and Lesbian Multi-Sports Championships have helped raise awareness, build self-esteem and change perceptions based on prejudice.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

Study – Biometric Recognition and Behavioural Detection Assessing the ethical aspects of biometric recognition and behavioural detection techniques with a focus on their current and future use in public spaces – 06-08-2021

This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the JURI and PETI Committees, analyses the use of biometric techniques from an ethical and legal perspective. Biometric techniques raise a number of specific ethical issues, as an individual cannot easily change biometric features, and as these techniques tend to intrude into the human body and ultimately the human self. Further issues are more generally associated with large-scale surveillance, algorithmic decision making, or profiling. The study analyses different types of biometric techniques and draws conclusions for EU legislation.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

Briefing – EU-UK relations: Difficulties in implementing the Northern Ireland Protocol – 09-07-2021

On 3 March 2021, the United Kingdom (UK) Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, announced in a written statement to the UK Parliament, and without consulting the European Union (EU) in advance, that the grace period on border controls on a series of food and live products shipped from Great Britain to Northern Ireland would be extended. This meant that products of animal origin, composite products, food and feed of non-animal origin and plants and plant products could continue being shipped from Great Britain to Northern Ireland without the official certification, such as health and phytosanitary certificates, required by the Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland (the Protocol) of the Withdrawal Agreement (WA). In response to the UK’s decision, the EU launched legal action against the UK for breaching the provisions of the Protocol, as well as the good faith obligation under the WA. According to the Protocol, the UK must establish border controls on goods moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland according to EU law. The application of EU law to Northern Ireland, together with the conduct of border controls within the UK, was designed to prevent the establishment of physical border controls (a ‘hard border’) on the island of Ireland, so as to safeguard the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement which brought peace in Northern Ireland, while preserving the integrity of the EU’s single market. The grace period on border controls was agreed by the EU and the UK in December 2020 as a temporary solution to problems raised by the UK. The UK government has reiterated that it intends to implement the Protocol, but that the border controls are causing trade disruption between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and require time to be resolved. It has also mentioned other issues involving areas as diverse as medicinal supplies and parcel shipments, as well as the complexity of customs systems and implementation of exchange of information between the EU and the UK. On 30 June 2021, the EU and the UK reached an agreement on some solutions, including the extension of the grace period on meat products, conditional on tight controls.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

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