Estonia wants to spend EU funds according to ‘own model’

Estonia should spend EU funds, particularly with regard to the digital and green transition, according to its “own Estonian model” and without being influenced by other countries, Finance Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus told the country’s parliament on Thursday. “When searching for…

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Briefing – The financial management of visitor groups to the national parliaments – 08-07-2021

In most Member States, visitor’ groups are not sponsored to visit the national parliament. A visit to the national parliament is free of charge, and all the costs related to the visit, for example travel costs, accommodation and local minor expenses, need to be paid by the visitors themselves.
Germany is the only country which has various kinds of programmes where visitors can be reimbursed. Members of Parliament can invite up to 200 people a year of which the travel costs are partially covered by the German Bundestag. There is also a programme which consists of more days for which all the costs related to travel and accommodation are covered by the German government. The German Bundesrat has a programme in which the 16 federal states can invite people for a visit of multiple days to Berlin. In this case the travel costs and accommodation are paid for by the Bundesrat. For all reimbursements, the rules apply that the receipts and underlying documents need to be provided to the Bundestag and Bundesrat after the visit. All documents and receipts are checked through an ex-post control.
The United Kingdom has a programme in which costs are reimbursed, and this programme is funded by the commercial tours of the parliament. In this case, it can be MPs, Peers or the House of Commons or Lords who can invite visitors who are eligible for reimbursement.
In Hungary, only schools can get reimbursement for their travel costs and the entry fee for the national parliament. All the receipts need to be provided to the visitor service of the parliament.
Some countries do have other schemes in which they provide coverage for schools or costs are covered by the MPs’ own funds.
The Council of the EU does not sponsor visitor groups. All visits are requested by visitors themselves and they need to cover all the costs related to the visit themselves. The questions were also sent to the European Commission but no answer was received.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

Briefing – European Defence Fund: Multiannual financial framework 2021-2027 – 02-07-2021

In June 2018, the European Commission presented a legislative proposal on a European Defence Fund, including a budget allocation of €11.5 billion in constant 2018 prices for the 2021-2027 period. The proposal aimed to streamline and simplify the set-up in place at the time by integrating the Preparatory Action on Defence Research (research window) and the European Defence Industrial Development Programme (as one part of the capability window) into a single Fund. The main aims of the Fund would be to foster the competitiveness and innovativeness of European defence and to contribute to the EU’s strategic autonomy. In this regard, the Fund would inter alia support collaborative industrial projects; co finance the costs of prototype development; encourage the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises; and promote projects in the framework of permanent structured cooperation. Synergies were expected with other EU initiatives in the field of cybersecurity, maritime transport, border management, Horizon Europe, the space programme and the European Peace Facility. In April 2019, after several trilogue meetings, Parliament and Council reached a partial agreement on the Fund, covering the content, but not, among other things, budgetary issues. Parliament adopted its position at first reading in April 2019. A provisional political agreement on the outstanding issues was reached in December 2020. The Council adopted its first-reading position in March 2021 and the Parliament adopted the text at second reading on 29 April. The final act was published in the Official Journal on 12 May.

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

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