Connecting Europe by rail, the future of public transport in rural areas, and the falling price of EVs

The ability to cross borders seamlessly tends to be described, at least in Brussels, in lofty terms. It is positioned as a crowning achievement of the European project, one that allows us to imagine ourselves outside of geography, to live as “Europeans” uninhibited by boundaries or national constrictions.

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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 – 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

Highlights – Rural areas, trade: committee debates with Commissioners – Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development

US-EU Flags
The Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development will hold a debate with newly appointed US Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, on 12 July. The day after, the Committee will go over the European Commission’s long-term vision for rural areas with Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski. Trade-related issues will then be discussed with Commission Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, on 16 July.

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

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

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