Commission bolsters toolbox against disruptive foreign subsidies  

Companies subsidised by foreign governments will have to win EU authorities’ green light to acquire European firms or to bid in public procurements, according to a European Commission proposal published on Wednesday (5 May).

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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

Briefing – Protection of animals during transport: Data on live animal transport – 07-07-2021

Each year, millions of live animals are transported by road, sea, rail and air within, and to and from, the European Union, for a number of reasons, such as slaughter, fattening or breeding. To protect their welfare during those journeys, the EU adopted Regulation 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport. An evaluation of the regulation showed that, when correctly implemented and enforced, it had a positive impact on animal welfare. However, in some areas weaknesses still persist, largely due to insufficient implementation. In the light of these conclusions, and bearing in mind its 2012-2015 animal welfare strategy, the European Commission announced its intention to revise the animal welfare legislation, including legislation on animal transport. Despite the action taken, however, in recent years, repeated breaches of the rules, resulting in accidents and severe animal welfare crises, have been highlighted by EU and national control bodies and by animal welfare organisations. On 19 June 2020, the European Parliament set up the Committee of Inquiry on the Protection of Animals during Transport (ANIT). The work of the committee focused on investigating how EU rules laid down in Regulation 1/2005 are being implemented by Member States and enforced by the European Commission. It held public hearings with the participation of stakeholders, representatives of national authorities and experts. Insight from these debates fed into the committee’s report and recommendations to Council and the Commission. This briefing is one of four requested by the ANIT committee to provide research and analysis following the results of a questionnaire sent out by the committee to Member States. It gives an overview of available data on the transport of live animals.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

Briefing – Development of organic production in the EU: 2021-2027 action plan – 28-07-2021

In May 2020, the European Commission published its ‘farm to fork’ strategy – ‘for a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system’ – along with the EU biodiversity strategy, as part of the implementation of the European Green Deal. In those strategies the Commission set a target of 25 % of the EU’s agricultural land to be under organic farming by 2030, as well as a significant increase in organic aquaculture. These targets aim to contribute to improving the sustainability of the food system, to reverse biodiversity loss and to reduce the use of chemical substances in the form of pesticides and fertilisers. The Commission’s 2021 work programme set out its intention to prepare an action plan for the development of organic production for the 2021 to 2027 period, and the action plan was published on 25 March 2021. Offering an initial analysis of the action plan, this briefing outlines the measures envisaged and the implications for different stages of the food chain in the EU. It also examines the results of the public consultation launched by the Commission in September 2020 to gather stakeholders’ views on the challenges and opportunities for the organic sector. The views of key stakeholders in response to the publication of the action plan are also covered, along with the initial views expressed by the advisory committees.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

Briefing – Strengthening Europol’s mandate – 20-07-2021

Europol has been at the forefront of fighting serious and organised crime in the EU. However, with digital transformations and a global interconnectedness emerging, security threats have become more complex. Against this background, the Commission has published a recast proposal of the Europol Regulation with the objective of, inter alia, (1) enabling Europol to support Member States and their investigations through big data analysis; (2) enabling Europol to directly exchange data with private parties; and (3) strengthening Europol’s role on research and innovation. While the Commission made efforts to analyse the problems at hand in the accompanying Impact Assessment, more detailed information on the scale and size of the different problems would have been useful. The Commission conducted several targeted consultations for this initiative, but did not carry out a mandatory 12-week open public consultation. The IA assesses relevant impacts, including fundamental rights impacts.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

Briefing – Rail passengers’ rights and obligations in the EU – 12-07-2021

In 2007, the EU established a set of basic rights for rail passengers, which became applicable at the end of 2009. These rights provide for all passengers, including those with reduced mobility, a harmonised minimum level of protection, information and assistance. Reports have concluded that the implementation of these rights, although relatively smooth, is not done uniformly across the EU. Moreover, other shortcomings have prevented these rights from being used to their full potential. In September 2017, the European Commission presented a new proposal to address these issues and to strike a new balance between keeping rail operators competitive and providing adequate passenger protection. The European Parliament adopted its first-reading position on this proposal on 15 November 2018. For its part, the Council adopted its general approach on 2 December 2019, under the Finnish Presidency. Interinstitutional negotiations began at the end of January 2020, and on 1 October 2020, under the Germany Presidency, Council and Parliament reached a provisional agreement on the text. On 29 April 2021, the European Parliament voted in favour of the agreed text as adopted by the Council. The new rules were published in the Official Journal of the EU on 17 May 2021. They will apply in principle to all international and domestic rail journeys and services in the EU from 7 June 2023. However, Member States may exempt domestic rail services for a limited time. Seventh edition. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

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