NGO: A ‘populism industry’ has been created in Serbia

Several factors have created a “populism industry” system in Serbia, where the media “are the means of promotion, propaganda and retaliation in the service of personal power,” according to Serbian non-profit the Bureau for Social Research (BIRODI). On the occasion…

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Briefing – Sino-Japanese controversy over the Senkaku/Diaoyu/Diaoyutai Islands: An imminent flashpoint in the Indo-Pacific? – 30-07-2021

The 50-year-old controversy between Japan, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Taiwan over the sovereignty of a group of tiny, uninhabited islets and rocks in the East China Sea, administered by Japan and referred to as the Senkaku Islands in Japan, as the Diaoyu Islands in the PRC and as the Diaoyutai Islands in Taiwan has become a proxy battlefield in the growing Sino-US great power competition in the Indo-Pacific, against the backdrop of a widening Sino-Japanese power gap. Since 1971, when the PRC and Taiwan laid claim to the contested islets and rocks for the first time, challenging Japan’s position of having incorporated them into Japanese territory as terra nullius in 1895, possible avenues for settling the controversy have either been unsuccessful or remained unexplored. The PRC’s meteoric economic rise and rapid military modernisation has gradually shifted the Sino-Japanese power balance, nourishing the PRC leadership’s more assertive, albeit failed, push for Japan to recognise the existence of a dispute. Two incidents in the 2010s, perceived by the PRC as consolidating Japan’s administrative control, led to the PRC starting to conduct grey-zone operations in the waters surrounding the islets and rocks with increasing frequency and duration, to reassert its claims and change the status quo in its favour without prompting a war. The EU has held a position of principled neutrality as regards the legal title to the disputed islands. However, the risk of unintended incidents, miscalculation and military conflict arising from the unresolved dispute poses a challenge to regional peace and stability and to the EU’s economic and security interests. The EU’s 2021 Indo-Pacific strategy takes a cooperative and inclusive approach, to promote a rules-based international order and respect for international law. This may include a greater Indo-Pacific naval presence under the strategy’s maritime security dimension.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

Briefing – Improving corporate sustainability reporting – 27-07-2021

The European Commission proposed to improve sustainability reporting by revising the non-financial reporting directive 2014/95/EU. The accompanying impact assessment (IA) provides a well-defined problem that is substantiated with evidence, a clear set of objectives that correspond to the problems identified and makes effort to cover SMEs in the consultation strategy. Overall, the evidence used in the IA seems recent and reliable. However, the IA has not set any concrete targets, indicators or timelines for achieving its objectives. The range of options in the IA appears rather imbalanced, the analysis has been predominantly economic and has focused on the effectiveness of meeting the specific objectives and their costs, while the discussion of benefits has remained rather descriptive. Environmental impacts seem to have been completely excluded, the costs of indirect effects on SMEs in the supply chains of large companies have not been quantified and the benefits for listed SMEs have not been elaborated on.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

Briefing – Mental health and the pandemic – 09-07-2021

While the pandemic is primarily a physical health crisis, it has also had widespread impact on people’s mental health, inducing, among other things, considerable levels of fear, worry, and concern. The growing burden on mental health has been referred to by some as the ‘second’ or ‘silent’ pandemic. While negative mental health consequences affect all ages, young people, in particular, have been found to be at high risk of developing poor mental health. Specific groups have been particularly hard hit, including health and care workers, people with pre-existing mental health problems, and women. The pandemic has also appeared to increase inequalities in mental health, both within the population and between social groups. To address the population’s increased psycho-social needs, the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe established an expert group on the mental health impacts of Covid-19 in the European region. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has issued analyses and guidance on mental health in general and the pandemic’s impact on mental health in particular. At European Union level, a December 2020 European Commission communication addressed the pandemic’s impact on mental health. In May 2021, the Commission organised a major online stakeholder event, and published best practice examples of solutions presented. A July 2020 European Parliament resolution recognises mental health as a fundamental human right, calling for a 2021-2027 EU action plan on mental health. Members of the European Parliament have also called on the Commission to put mental health at the heart of EU policymaking. Stakeholders broadly rally around calls for programmes and funding to improve citizens’ mental health, not least to respond to the pandemic’s long-term implications.

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

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