Transition of cities – an opportunity for people and planet

Mayors and city leaders can play a double role in the green transition – as ambassadors for the European green deal locally, and as representatives of people’s concerns and interests to other levels of government, writes Dario Nardella

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Study – Meeting the Green Deal objectives by alignment of technology and behaviour – 09-07-2021

This study explores the prospects of aligning citizens’ behaviour with the objectives of the European Green Deal in the domains of food consumption and mobility. Creating a climate-neutral and resource-efficient European economy requires a deep transformation of energy, mobility and food systems, as well as a change in production and consumption practices. Such profound change will impact both individuals and society. At the same time, the transition to sustainability will not succeed if people do not support it by adapting their behaviour and consumption patterns. This would imply change towards ‘sustainable behaviour’. The study explores options for such sustainable behaviour, with a focus on mobility and food consumption. It identifies key challenges and possibilities in each domain and explores how technological solutions can help people adapt to sustainable behaviour in alignment with the objectives of the European Green Deal.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

Study – Tackling deepfakes in European policy – 30-07-2021

The emergence of a new generation of digitally manipulated media – also known as deepfakes – has generated substantial concerns about possible misuse. In response to these concerns, this report assesses the technical, societal and regulatory aspects of deepfakes. The rapid development and spread of deepfakes is taking place within the wider context of a changing media system. An assessment of the risks associated with deepfakes shows that they can be psychological, financial and societal in nature, and their impacts can range from the individual to the societal level. The report identifies five dimensions of the deepfake lifecycle that policy-makers could take into account to prevent and address the adverse impacts of deepfakes. The report includes policy options under each of the five dimensions, which could be incorporated into the AI legislative framework, the digital service act package and beyond. A combination of measures will likely be necessary to limit the risks of deepfakes, while harnessing their potential.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

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 – 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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