Author: Joris Dietz

  • EU Crash Course

    Welcome to our introduction to the EU! We strive to share with you all the necessary background knowledge of how the EU works to promote your academic engagement.

    Welcome to the EU! 

    The European Union (EU) constitutes a supranational organisation of 27 Member States. It is an economic and political union of unique organisation in terms of both structure and decision-making. It has evolved from the first European Communities, established after the Second World War to preserve peace on the European continent, to EU institutions working towards the closer economic and political integration of Member States and giving rise to the still-evolving structure of the EU we know today.

    How does the EU pass laws?

    The European legislative process is far wider than that of the majority of Member States; it involves the European Commission, the Council of the EU, and the European Parliament, which comprise the Institutional Triangle of the EU. These determine whether a resolution will become a legitimate act, coming into effect after being integrated into national legislation by Member States. If you want a more detailed overview of how the EU passes legislation, you might be interested in this video: How does the EU pass new laws?

    What are the ‘EU competences’? 

    The EU can only pass legislation (i.e. has the competence to do so) in areas that fall under its legal jurisdiction. In Articles 2-6 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), it is clarified who can legislate in different areas: the EU, Member States, or both.

    What are the types of EU competences?

    • Exclusive competence: Only the EU can act in these cases, producing legally binding acts that Member States are responsible for applying;
    • Shared competence: Both the Commission and national governments may legislate in these areas. However, national governments may only pass laws if the EU has not already done so (‘exclusive if EU has policy’) or if it has decided to not do so (‘non-exclusive’)
    • Supporting competence: The EU aids Member States by coordinating or supporting their action, for example through setting up relevant programs and sharing best practices. However, the EU has no jurisdiction to create new laws in these areas or lead Member States to harmonise their national legislations.

    If you want to learn about EU competences in greater detail, you might be interested in this video: Competences of the European Union. 

    The policy areas on which the EU can legislate are organised by competences as follows:


    Exclusive
    Shared
    Support, Coordinate, Complement
    Exclusive if EU has policy
    Non-exclusive

    Customs Union

    Internal Market
    Research and DevelopmentMost Human Health Policies
    Euro Monetary PolicySome Social PoliciesOuter Space Policies
    Industry
    Conservation of marine resources (fisheries)

    Cohesion Policy 

    Development and Cooperation


    Culture
    Common Commercial PolicyAgriculture and Fisheries
    Humanitarian Aid
     
    Tourism

    Competition Rules for the functioning of the Internal Market
    Environment
    Education, Vocational Training, Youth, Sport

    Consumer Protection
    Transport and trans- European networks
    Civil protection, Disaster Prevention
    Area of Administrative 
    Conclusion of International Agreements under certain conditionsFreedom, Justice and SecurityCooperation
    EnergyCoordination of social, economic, employment policies
    Public Health Policies

    In any area of legislation not covered by this table, Member States have exclusive competence, which means that the EU cannot make any legally binding proposals.

    What are the different types of European Union legislation?

    The EU has two roots of law in terms of legislation: primary and secondary

    • Primary: The treaties of the Union, the treaties of the accession of new Member States, and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights are the primary origins of EU law.
    • Secondary: Directives, regulations, decisions, opinions, and recommendations are examples of secondary forms of EU law that must be aligned with the principles and guidance of primary EU legislation.
    • Regulations: legally binding documents that must be followed in their entirety in the EU;
    • Directives: legal tools establishing certain aims that all Member States must fulfil through nationally-implemented legislative action;
    • Decisions: legally binding acts that only affect the public to whom it is directed, such as a single country or a single organisation;
    • Recommendations and opinions make the proposing body’s views public, but they are not legally binding.

    If you want to know more about these secondary forms of EU law, this video will be of use to you: What is the difference between Directives, Regulations and Decisions?

    What are the EU’s institutions?

    1. European Commission (‘The Commission’)

    The Commission is the Union’s executive body. Each Member State nominates one Commissioner who is responsible for a specific policy area (e.g., agriculture, competition, foreign affairs). The Commission monitors the implementation of EU policy, has the exclusive Right of Initiative to propose legislation to the European Parliament and Council of the EU, and represents the EU in foreign affairs through the High Representative (HR/VP). The Commission is divided into various Directorates-General (DGs) or services, each responsible for a particular policy area. 

    1. European Parliament (EP)

    The European Parliament is the EU’s legislative body, composed of 705 Members of Parliament (MEPs) directly elected by all EU citizens every five years. Aside from having the role of co-decision on legislative and budgetary proposals together with the Council of the EU, the EP supervises the Commission and debates international agreements. 

    1. The Council of the EU (‘The Council’)

    The Council co-decides on policies and legislation with the European Parliament, coordinates policies across Member States, and concludes on international agreements. It is organised through issue-specific groups (configurations) composed of the Ministers of Member States together with the President, whose term lasts six months. 

    1. The European Council (never abbreviated)

    The European Council is a strategic body without legislative authority. Consisting of the EU’s heads of state or government and the President of the Commission, it determines the EU’s strategies, policies, and goals, as well as the Union’s shared foreign and security policy. 

    1. The Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU)

    The CJEU oversees all aspects of the legal system, ensuring the lawful application of the EU Laws and Treaties. It also interprets EU law at the request of national courts. The CJEU consists of two major courts: the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the highest EU court; and the General Court.

    The main EU stakeholders are depicted in the following EU diagram: 

  • LIBE

    LIBE

    Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs

    Under the bridge: Over the past decade, there has been a 70% rise in homelessness within the EU, also affecting 39,000 people in the Netherlands. This coincides with a growing trend of adopting defensive urban architecture in European municipalities. How can the EU extend assistance to individuals striving for social integration while concurrently working to diminish the incidence of homelessness?

    By Aitana Baselga (ES)

    The Case Study

    Whenever we think about our Christmas vacations about one month ago, it is easy to recall the abundant meals, spending time with our families at home, cosy nights on the sofa watching Christmas movies or even opening some of the gifts that were on your wishlist. Now imagine spending Christmas roofless. Switching the cosy movie night to struggling on the cold streets, instead of abundant meals, having to attend a soup kitchen because there is not enough money to buy dinner, not having your own bed, not being able to take a shower or a warm bath when you want. Imagine having that feeling of vulnerability and instability. This story represents many homeless people across the world, who are unable to secure a stable life and future. These people do not have a house to go back to. But, like all of us, they need somewhere that they can call their own, somewhere where they can feel at home.

    Abstract

    Picture 1: Percentage increase of homeless individuals in each Member State 

    Homelessness is one of the most extreme forms of social exclusion. Many homeless people suffer from discrimination when attempting to access employment or economic and social services. This negatively affects their well-being and life expectancy, by worsening their physical and mental health. Homelessness can be caused by many factors, including, but not limited to, unemployment, poverty, lack of affordable housing and inflation. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that if there is a will to achieve social rights, the economic barrier is not a problem. At first, governments were negatively impacted by the crisis that COVID-19 provoked. Nevertheless, even if at first there was a struggle to put in place initiatives to combat the crisis, governmental authorities were able to put in place practices that successfully supported the most vulnerable groups in their societies. However, the phenomenon of homelessness has increased substantially over the last decade all across the EU. In Picture 1, we can observe how all of the Member States are facing alarmingly high rates of homelessness. Finland is the only Member State that achieved a decrease in this rate. It is clear that the measures taken by most Member States up until now are not enough to solve this issue. How can other Member States follow the Finnish example? What further measures should the EU implement in order to tackle this issue?

    Key Concepts

    • Homelessness: Over the years, homelessness has been defined broadly, including not only people without accommodation and people staying in emergency shelters but also people living in severely inadequate and/or insecure accommodations. Most notably, all these different dimensions of homelessness are included in the European Typology of Homelessness and Housing Exclusion (ETHOS) definition, developed in 2005 by the European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless (FEANTSA).
    • Eviction: the action of expelling someone from a rental property.
    • Unemployment: Unemployment refers to the condition in which individuals who are willing and able to work are unable to find suitable employment opportunities. It can result from various factors, including economic downturns, technological changes, structural shifts in industries, and other systemic issues. High levels of unemployment can have significant social and economic implications, affecting individuals, families, and communities by limiting income, increasing financial insecurity, and potentially leading to broader economic challenges.
    • Income: Money or financial gain earned by an individual, household, or business during a specific period. It includes various sources of earnings, such as wages, salaries, profits, interest, and other forms of payment received in exchange for goods, services, or investments. Income serves as a key indicator of an individual’s or entity’s financial well-being and is crucial for meeting basic needs, supporting a certain standard of living, and contributing to economic activities within a community or society.
    • Living wage: The minimum income a person should gain in order to afford basic expenses and maintain a decent standard of living. The basic needs a living wage should cover are housing, healthcare, food, education, regular savings and other necessities. This term is controversial since on the one hand this living wage is necessary to boost the productivity and wellbeing of the employee but, on the other hand, experts suggest that providing a living wage to every individual could negatively impact the economy.

    Key Actors and Stakeholders

    European Commission

    The European Commission is the EU’s main executive body. By suggesting and enforcing legislation, as well as executing policies and managing the EU budget, it is in charge of promoting the general interests of the EU. The commission works closely with Member States’  national governments and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in order to finance and promote initiatives and projects.

    Directorate-General of Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (DG EMPL)

    Directorate-General of Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (DG EMPL) is in charge of drafting, managing and implementing policies related to these topics such as employment and homelessness. It creates strategies and funds projects in order to promote social rights, inclusion and employment.

    National governments

    National governments are the executive body of each country. They are essential in building Action Plans, that is to say, a list of actions such as projects, and funds national governments want to do in order to achieve their goals and ensure EU policies are implemented at a national level. Each country has a national government, which is divided into ministries and led by a Prime Minister. For this issue, the government will work closely with ministries of social affairs, unemployment and healthcare. 

    Municipalities

    Municipalities are local authorities and administrative bodies for each region. They take care of the organisation of each region and make sure that the mandate of national governments is implemented and adjusted to each region. 

    The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) 

    The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an international organisation that works towards developing and improving policies related to social issues such as climate change or unemployment. The OECD works closely with governments, policymakers and citizens to establish international standards and find solutions in the social, economic and environmental spheres.

    The European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless (FEANTSA)

    The European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless (FEANTSA) is a European network focused exclusively on fighting against homelessness at a European level and receives financial support from the European Commission for the implementation of its activities. FEANTSA also works closely with other EU institutions and has consultative status at the Council of Europe and the United Nations (UN).

    Y-Foundation

    The Y-Foundation is an organisation focused on providing affordable housing to homeless people. This organisation has been a key stakeholder in decreasing Finland’s homelessness rates and works closely with FEANTSA.

    What Has Happened so Far? 

    Discrimination against Homeless people 

    Many times homeless people have been a subject of discrimination and cruel degrading treatment in public with acts such as arbitrary detentions from public and private security officials, deportation or denial of health care, meaning access to a hospital or to safe drinking water. According to articles 1 to 22 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, every person’s dignity must be respected and homelessness violates that principle. Eviction into homelessness is also a violation of rights. According to Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights claims, “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation.” 

    A new problem has emerged, many countries have enforced strict and cruel strategies such as “hostile architecture”. Hostile architecture often includes features like spikes, dividers, or uncomfortable seating designed to deter people from sleeping or resting in public spaces. These measures are explicitly aimed at preventing homeless individuals from finding refuge in these areas. Hostile architecture can contribute to the stigmatisation and marginalisation of homeless individuals, affecting their mental health. Feeling unwelcome and constantly facing environments designed to exclude them can exacerbate the already challenging circumstances of homelessness.

    Picture 2: Example of Defensive architecture

    A very good example of a region that is keeping up with decreasing homelessness is Tilburg, in The Netherlands. Every year they host a talk with up to 250 people on low incomes. The Municipality of Tilburg actively seeks them out and enters into a dialogue with them over finance, health and any other issues that may be affecting them. The aim is to offer them suitable support. This will improve their mental health and wellbeing since they feel protected and understood and know that they can ask for advice.

    Unaffordable cost of living

    As a result of the 2007 financial crisis, austerity measures and housing prices have increased and with them, the homelessness rate, with an estimated 4.1 million being currently homeless people in the EU. According to Article 11(1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, everyone has a right to have a decent standard of living including food, clothing and housing. In addition, Article 12 states that everyone has the right to have access to a high standard of health. Homelessness violates all of these principles.

    On the 21st of June of 2021, in a conference in Portugal, Member States agreed on the Lisbon Declaration on the European Platform on Combating Homelessness. This platform aims to work towards ending homelessness by 2030. Some of the objectives set out by this policy document were:

    • Ensuring that nobody has to sleep on the streets because there is not a safe and suitable emergency place for them to stay.
    • When someone is leaving places like prisons, hospitals, or care facilities, make sure they have a suitable place to live. Do not let them be discharged without a housing offer.
    • Try to prevent evictions whenever possible. If someone is being evicted, making sure they get help finding a new place to live.
    • Ending unfair treatment or bias experienced by people in a situation of homelessness.

    The OECD, with support from the European Commission and as a contribution to the European Platform on Combating Homelessness, has prepared a policy toolkit on homelessness and housing exclusion. With this toolkit, the OECD aims to provide governments with relevant data about the issue and tips to tackle it. Furthermore, the European Commission has launched 6 Mutual Learning events on key policy developments in Member States. Each event aims to support Member States in developing and improving their national homelessness strategies. These are introduced by experts and also count with delegates from cities and NGOs that can share their thoughts. The EU promotes the use of EU funding by Member States to support inclusive policy measures aiming at combatting homelessness. Therefore, The European Social Fund + (ESF+) contributes to providing housing assistance programmes and social support for homeless people. This funding contributes to facilitating extensive research on the topic and therefore making Member States more informed and equipped to mitigate homelessness in the future.

    As mentioned before, Finland is the only Member State that was able to decrease its rate of homelessness, how is this so? Here is their main strategy:

    Housing First is a method of social intervention towards homeless people that follows a main strategy of providing people who cannot afford a house or living on the streets permanent housing. In 2016, the Y-Foundation, in collaboration with FEANTSA, launched the Housing First Europe Hub. Since 2007, national policies have turned their focus on to Housing First programmes in order to tackle long-term homelessness. This has been a success in Finland since the use of temporary accommodations such as hostels and shelters have decreased by 76% from 2008 to 2017. This case study has become an example for many countries since many Member States such as France or Sweden have embraced the Housing First concept in their Action Plans.

    Food for thought

    Welcome to the LIBE committee! I understand this topic can be sometimes tough to digest since you may not be used to reading about these issues. I encourage you to do some additional independent research on the topic in order to be prepared for the session. I left you some sources in the next point so you can inform yourselves further. I cannot wait to meet all of you and I am sure you will do great! And do not worry or stress about being your first time doing this, I will be there with you throughout the whole session.

    Sometimes, when we have so much information about a topic but do not know how to proceed or we feel that we do not really understand the issue it is important to go step by step in order to have a broad image of the topic. Therefore I invite you to fill in the LIBE- BODY!  

    I also encourage you to delve deeper into this topic by asking the following questions: Regarding prevention and hostile architecture, what else could be done in order to prevent homelessness? Is hostile architecture the solution or is it just a form of discrimination towards homeless people? Which other strategies can be done in order to tackle this issue?

    Valuable Links to Browse

    How do Member States tackle homelessness in each country? In this link, there are a number of different projects done by Member States in order to contribute to the decrease of homelessness. It is very interesting to see the different focuses a project can have and where they decide to deepen the focus! In Picture 1, it can be observed that Finland is the only Member State that managed to decrease the rate of homelessness. What has been done by Finland differently or more effectively? Here is a short documentary about the topic! When thinking of homeless people, there is a tendency to have a stereotyped image of a drug addict, someone who has no studies, but it is more than that. Homeless people also have normal stories and studies. In the moment they indeed became homeless their life took a 360-degree turn. In this link, you can find some testimonies of homeless people who achieved to get out of that state. Furthermore, when we think about homeless people we think about adults, but children also suffer homelessness. Many families have to have an irregular house and constantly be in change. Here attached are two  videos of the children’s perspectives and the impact on their lives!

  • JURI

    JURI

    Committee on Legal Affairs

    Complete euphoria: With doctors prescribing marijuana as a medicine for seriously ill patients in some Member States, concerns rise about the supply of the drug through legal means as many patients are still turning to the black market. Taking into account the advantages of marijuana use for medical purposes, what steps should the EU take in drafting a loophole-free regulation on the matter that could further be implemented throughout all Member States?

    By Paula Vermaas (NL)

    The Case Study

    After enduring years of chronic pain following medical complications, the Irish Alicia Maher and her husband Gerry moved to Spain in 2019 to access cannabis for her condition.

    Before discovering medical cannabis, Alicia had been prescribed numerous medications in Ireland which had her feeling “wiped out” and unable to leave the couch for the best part of two years. By self-medicating with cannabis vapes, which she was ordering from the USA, Alicia managed to slowly get off her medication. However, as ordering from the USA became more difficult, she turned to getting cannabis from dealers. After having concerns regarding the safety of the product, the couple decided to move to Spain where cannabis was more easily accessible. When in 2020 Alicia finally managed to have cannabis prescribed for her through the ministerial licence route, she found it was not covered by her medical card. As she did not qualify for the Medical Cannabis Access Programme, this meant that it would cost her over €1,000 a month: four times the price she was paying in Spain. So, the couple decided to stay. Together with the group Patients for Safe Axes, which Alicia keeps advocating for, among others, the range of conditions under the Medical Cannabis Access Programme to be expanded. In hopes of one day moving back to be reunited with her family in Ireland.

    Abstract 

    Over the years, medical cannabis has become more and more accessible to patients in need in Member States. Currently, each Member State is allowed to implement their own policies regarding the usage, cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana. This has resulted in a lot of differences between Member States and inequalities for the users. High prices and strict bureaucracy, result in many patients not having access to the medicine, which for some is often a last resort. This is if the patient even knows about its existence. Due to a lack of education, doctors and patients alike are often unaware of the benefits that medical marijuana may provide. The issue of a lack of access to medical marijuana is pressing, as many patient’s suffering can be relieved with the usage of these medicinal products.  

    Image 1: As of 2020, there is no plan from the European Commission to launch a legislative initiative on medicinal cannabis

    Key Concepts

    • Cannabis sativa: the scientific name for the plant from which cannabis products are made. Two genetically distinct forms of the plant are industrial cannabis (hemp) and medical cannabis, or, cannabis as a drug (marijuana). The main difference between the two is the percentage of psychoactive chemicals present. Hemp contains a maximum of 0.2% THC of its total weight. Medical cannabis contains more.
    • Cannabinoids: the chemicals in the cannabis plant that produce its therapeutic effects.
    • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): the most present cannabinoid in ‘psychoactive’ cannabis plant types and responsible for many of the medicinal effects of cannabis. It posses mind-altering effects, which are often experienced as pleasant and relaxing by users.
    • Cannabidiol (CBD): the second major cannabinoid in cannabis. Similarly to THC, it has medicinal effects. However, it does not induce a psychotropic state, meaning. its use does not result in feelings of intoxication.
    • Cannabis-based medicines: the term adopted by the European Parliament to specify the cannabis-based medicinal products that have undergone clinical trials, like all medicinal products, and have achieved approval from expert regulatory authorities.

    Key Actors and Stakeholders

    The United Nations (UN)

    An underlying structure for all EU policy-making regarding narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, including cannabis, is formed by three UN conventions, held in 1961, 1971, and 1988. These conventions, signed by all EU member states, form the fundamental structure for regulating the production, trade, and possession of over 240 psychoactive substances. Narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, such as cannabis, are categorised based on their health risks, potential for abuse, and therapeutic value. The UN office specialised in drugs is the Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The UNODC supports Member States in addressing drug-related issues by providing legislative support, law enforcement, implementing drug use prevention interventions and providing drug dependence treatment and care services.

    European Commission

    The European Commission ‘is the EU’s politically independent executive arm’. Responsible for proposing and implementing new European policies and legislation. Since public health falls under the EU’s supporting competences, the EU has limited power to intervene in Member States’ legislation and law-making in this area. It can only support, coordinate or complement the Member State’s action, but has no power to pass laws.

    European Medicines Agency (EMA)

    The EMA has the authority to grant EU-wide cross-national authorisation for medicine while sharing expertise with Member States in the assessment of new medicines and new safety information. The Committee on Herbal Medicinal Products (HMPC) works on the Agency’s stance on herbal substances and preparations and further information and recommendations. For example, in 2021 the committee published the Compilation of terms and definitions for Cannabis-derived medicinal products.

    European Monitoring Centre for Drug Addiction (EMCDDA)

    Note: starting 2 July 2024, the EMCDDA will become the European Union Drugs Agency (EUDA), as it will be ‘granted stronger powers to tackle current and future drug problems’.

    The EMCDDA is an EU agency responsible for providing evidence-based information on drugs, drug addiction and their consequences. This information is used to support EU and national policymaking. Every year they release the European Drug Report. In these reports, the most recent one being the European Drug Report 2023, a big focus is put on cannabis, as it is the most commonly consumed illicit drug in Europe. The EMCDDA reports and analyses the drug’s situation in Europe, including frequency of use, treatment demand, seizures, price. The centre also provides publications discussing and analysing current policies in response to cannabis within the EU, and questions what an appropriate policy response to cannabis would entail.

    The European Medical Cannabis Association (EUMCA)

    The EUMCA is the main representative for the medical cannabis industry. They represent ‘ethical European manufacturers and suppliers of pharmaceutical-grade medicinal cannabis products’, patient advocacy groups and healthcare stakeholders. Through active collaboration with European authorities, national governments as well as the EU, and creating policy frameworks, the EUMCA states that its ‘primary goal is to create a standardised and harmonised regulatory prescribing framework to which all EU Countries can confidently ascribe’.

    EU citizens

    2024 is being labelled as the biggest year for elections yet: never before have this many elections been planned in single year. With the population of over 60 countries (including EU Member States such as Romania, Belgium, Portugal, Slovakia, Finland and Croatia) going to the polls in 2024 and the EU election being held in June, the EU citizens, who are the users and distributors of medical marijuana, can have a considerable influence on medical marijuana legislation.

    Patient advocacy groups

    The people who suffer under the issues surrounding medical cannabis are in the end the patients and their loved ones. To advocate for improved access to medical marijuana, multiple patient advocacy groups have been set up around Europe. One of those, for example, is ‘MAMAKA- Mothers for Cannabis’, founded by Jacqueline Poitras. Through this association, Poitras has played a leading role in changing Greece’s cannabis policy. MAMAKA is also part of the IACM Patient Council (part of the International Alliance for Cannabinoid Medicines), an ‘international coalition of patient organisations that have gathered to give a voice to patients the world over and to work together in order to protect their rights and interests in the ever-developing world of medicinal cannabis’. The IACM Patient Council also holds representatives from patient advocacy groups from all over the world, including numerous Member States.

    Bedrocan

    Bedrocan is one of the oldest producers of legal medicinal cannabis in the world which is based in the Netherlands. It is an EU Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP)-certified producer of pharmaceutical-grade medicinal cannabis. Since 2003, it has been the producer of medicinal cannabis in order of the Dutch Office of Medicinal Cannabis (OMC), part of the Ministry of Health. Through this office, all orders and issues related to medicinal cannabis in and from The Netherlands are handled, including distribution to pharmacies, and export to EU as well as non-EU countries. Last year, the company announced that it will be opening a new facility in Denmark to be able to ‘conduct business directly with other commercial entities’ and ‘better meet the growing international demand for its high-quality medicinal cannabis products’.

    What Has Happened so Far? 

    Cultivation

    International law does not prohibit cannabis cultivation for medicinal purposes, however, it is essential to note that the regulatory landscape for cannabis, including its cultivation and use for medicinal purposes, varies across countries. The 1961 UN Convention establishes a general regulatory framework in case a country opts for cannabis cultivation not designated for industrial or horticultural use. To achieve good quality, the EMA provides Guidelines on Good Agricultural and Collection Practices (GACP), in addition to the UN Conventions and the World Health Organisation‘s (WHO) guidelines on good agricultural and collection practices for medicinal plants. This ensures a quality control system for medicinal plants and herbal substances throughout the cultivation-to-distribution process.

    In the EU, cultivation of medicinal cannabis is permitted in some Member States, with an established authority for cannabis cultivation and defined responsibilities. For instance, in Germany, the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) is the regulatory body responsible for overseeing the cultivation of medicinal cannabis. The BfArM ensures compliance with stringent quality standards, including adherence to GACP. Patients in Germany can access medicinal cannabis products through a tightly regulated system that requires them to register with the Federal Opium Agency. Moreover, the Netherlands, with its Office of Medicinal Cannabis (OMC), meticulously regulates the cultivation, production, and distribution of medicinal cannabis, emphasising the importance of quality control and standardised strains. In Portugal, the Infarmed – National Authority of Medicines and Health Products plays a pivotal role in overseeing the cultivation of medicinal cannabis, ensuring that environmental considerations and sustainable practices are integrated into cultivation processes. 

    Education

    There is a lack of education on medicinal marijuana and its benefits. Not only in doctors, but in society, in general, there is stigma surrounding the use of medical marijuana, with its users often being described as ‘drug addicts’, and doctors refusing to prescribe cannabis-based medicines, or simply not being informed on the medical benefits of the products and their access. The latter is also an issue facing many patients, as they are not provided with medicinal cannabis as an option by their physician, many only learn about it through self-research or when their attention is put to it by an acquaintance. All in all, this results in the fact that many patients who might benefit from medical marijuana do not know of its existence and are faced with stigma and prejudices when accessing the medicines. 

    In 2022, Neuraxpharm initiated the Change for Health campaign to enhance the acceptance of medical cannabis. The campaign seeks to prompt a shift in perspectives among healthcare professionals, regulators, patients, and the public, advocating for a reconsideration of preconceived notions about cannabis and for its recognition as a viable and personalised treatment option. Neuraxpharm is actively driving this transformative change for health throughout society, urging healthcare professionals, patients, and the general public to reassess their views on cannabis and embrace it as an effective and tailored treatment choice. The campaign aims to deliver more accurate information to patients, physicians, and pharmacies and is currently active in Germany, the Czech Republic, and Switzerland. As legislative frameworks evolve, the initiative is expected to be expanded to include other countries as well.

    Lack of centralised EU legislation

    The decentralised legislation currently implemented in the EU results in inequalities and inadequate access for patients to cannabis-based medicines. While there are some countries which have allowed the use of medical cannabis as you can see in Picture 2, each country has allowed different medicines, different ways of accessing them and different regulations on coverage or reimbursement by health care insurance. Especially concerning the latter point, many countries are seriously lacking, resulting in unaffordable prices for many patients.

    For example, in 2017, Greece legalised medical cannabis. However, as a result of limited national investment in medical cannabis and the banning of the import of medical cannabis products in 2021, patients have no access to medical cannabis products and are turning to the black market. On the other side, Germany allows the costs of cannabis medication to be covered or reimbursed by health insurance companies in certain instances. However, patients relying on statutory insurance must undergo an application process for coverage, and statistics show that approximately 30-40% of these applications face rejection. Furthermore, in the Netherlands, any doctor is authorised to prescribe cannabis flowers from four specific varieties, each characterised by distinct cannabinoid profiles. This prescription is allowed for spasticity caused by multiple sclerosis, spinal cord trauma, any type of chronic pain, palliative care, and complications of cancer, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), and hepatitis

    Picture 2: Countries that have provisions for medical use of cannabis, 2021

    Food for thought

    Medicinal marijuana has proven benefits for relieving pain and decreasing symptoms from numerous conditions. However, medical marijuana products are not easily available to patients. There is a need for centralised EU regulation and policies surrounding this issue and educate healthcare providers on the benefits of cannabis-based medicines.

    Hopefully, this Topic Overview has provided you with enough knowledge to start working on solutions for this problem. When doing so, try to think of, for example, ethical considerations: how does providing access to medical marijuana align with key arguments in Western medical ethics? Also ask why: Why is there a need for different policy and how and who would it benefit? What is, in the end, the goal?

    Hopefully, all of this is not making you feel too overwhelmed. I will be here every step of the way to help you in this process and do not forget that EYP is about much more than the academic part. Enjoy the EYP experience of fun games, getting to know new people and improving your public speaking!

    Valuable Links to Browse 

    How come patients are not prescribed medical marijuana more often? In this video, David Casarett explains how as a doctor he only learned about medical marijuana through an experience with a patient. In this video, Hugh Hempel talks about how he, as a father of patients, was also left to do research himself into the world of medical marijuana. More patient stories are readable through the websites of patient advocacy groups represented by IACM. To learn more about policies already in place, check out the EMCDDA page on cannabis and this document published by the UNODC last year.

  • ITRE

    ITRE

    Committee on Industry, Research and Energy

    Secure G: From telemedicine operations to fully networked production facilities, high-performance 5G networks are driving digitalisation in all areas of life, making it a very good opportunity for hackers to obtain highly sensitive data and metadata. Considering the possible advantages and risks of 5G networks, what can be done to ensure the highest possible level of security?

    By Tris Westerman (NL)

    The Case Study

    Meet Charles. Charles is a father of 4 children and a real tech lover. His house is littered with smart devices such as a smart fridge, smart heater and an iPad for each of his kids. To stay up to date and have the quickest internet connection, Charles decided to switch to 5G. But then, everything went wrong. All of a sudden his smart devices were getting hacked and his children could no longer use their iPads. After contacting a professional it turned out hackers managed to infiltrate his home system using his smart fridge, something Charles never would have expected. Now Charles is confronted with a difficult dilemma: how to keep using the latest technologies, while at the same time staying safe and protected?

    Abstract

    What happened to Charles is a mere example, but a very realistic one. 5G makes our internet connections faster, stronger, and more reliable, but it also has a danger to it. Nowadays a lot of people are using smart devices such as smart fridges, cookers, and ovens to ease their lives. However, having all these smart devices interconnected in your house is also dangerous. This interconnection, also called the Internet of Things (IoT), makes it possible for hackers to easily connect from one smart device to another. Where previously a hacker was only able to get into your phone by accessing your phone itself, now they are able to do so through your smart water cooker. With 5G more and more devices are able to connect with each other, significantly increasing this risk. Furthermore, not only does 5G cause a security danger to ourselves, it can also interfere with satellites or aircrafts, posing serious security threats and even possible plane crashes.

    Key Concepts

    • 5G, abbreviation for 5th Generation, is the 5th version of internet connection between devices. This newest version allows for a very short response time between devices (latency) and allows high-speed data transmissions, which can be 100 times faster than the 4th generation.
    • The Internet of Things (IoT) is a concept used to define the system of all smart devices using any sort of wireless connection with each other. IoT is used in our daily lives and we are in constant connection with it. As it is based on digital networks, hackers might try to misuse it in order, for instance, to obtain metadata which can be sold to companies or to collect banking information to hack into bank accounts.
    • Metadata is data collected by comparing and analysing enormous amounts of information about a subject. This can be used to get a good understanding of people. Hackers might sell metadata to big tech companies who will then use this information for targeted advertisement or other purposes.
    • Smart devices are devices that can work (semi) independently, interact with their users, as well as connect and share data with other smart devices or networks via wireless protocols.
    • Security certification schemes are comprehensive sets of rules, technical requirements, standards and evaluation procedures applying to products, services and processes.

    Key Actors and Stakeholders

    The European Commission 

    This is the main EU executive body, responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions and making sure they are being followed. This is the institution that could propose and put into action any new legislation or restrictions on 5G. It has developed some initiatives to strengthen 5G security, such as the EU toolbox for 5G security.

    Among the Commission’s Directorates-General, the one focusing on Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG CONNECT) is particularly relevant. It focuses on developing and implementing digital policies. They fund research, innovation and deployment of digital technologies.

    European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA)

    The European Union Agency for Cybersecurity, ENISA, is the EU’s agency dedicated to achieving a high common level of cybersecurity across Europe, mainly by drafting cybersecurity certification schemes and increasing EU-level operational cooperation. It also carries out research on potential future cyber challenges. For example, it publishes a yearly threat landscape that analyses possible cyber problems that might arise in the future.

    European Cybersecurity Competence Centre and Network (ECCC)

    The European Cybersecurity Competence Center and Network is an organisation created in 2021 and is still being established. It is an executive agency of the EU and directly helps the European Commission manage EU programmes. Its mandate is to strengthen European cybersecurity capacity, that is development and deployment of cybersecurity technology. It aims at building an inter-connected, EU-wide cybersecurity industrial and research ecosystem by working with industry and the academic community. It will manage the EU funds for cybersecurity research and industry.

    5G Infrastructure Public Private Partnership (5G PPP)

    The 5G Infrastructure Public Private Partnership (5G PPP) is a joint initiative between the European Commission and European 5G industries. Their goal is to offer solutions to 5G infrastructure and help with the development of a European-wide reliable 5G network.

    High-risk suppliers

    5G is supplied by tech companies, not all of which are reliable. The European Commission has identified Huawei and ZTE as “high-risk suppliers” who could pose a potential danger to a secure 5G network. This is due to the high dependence of the EU on these suppliers, even though they have strong ties with third countries that do not uphold the same security standards as the EU. 

    What Has Happened so Far?

    Action undertaken to increase security

    Due to the importance 5G already has in day-to-day operations, and how much more society will rely on it in the future, it is very important to have a reliable 5G infrastructure. If hackers were to penetrate a 5G network, they could compromise its core functions to disrupt services or seize control of critical infrastructure, which in the EU often has a cross-border dimension. That’s why the EU has been focusing more and more on increasing its cybersecurity.

    In 2020, the European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy jointly presented “The EU’s Cybersecurity Strategy for the Digital Decade”, developed by ENISA. This policy document outlines strategies to increase cybersecurity by revising legislation, developing a European cyber shield, raising standards for IoT devices, and securing 5G networks and supply chains. Furthermore, in 2021, the Commission has tasked ENISA to prepare the EU’s cybersecurity certification scheme for 5G networks that will help tackle 5G risks. At the moment, there are various security certification schemes for IT products, including 5G networks, in Europe. A single common scheme for certification would make it easier for businesses to trade across borders and for customers to understand the security features of a given product or service.

    The field of IoT

    Certain smart devices are less secure, making it easier to hack them. Sometimes, companies might maintain a wireless connection to their sold items, in order to carry out services such as delivering updates when needed. When a hacker manages to hack one smart device and is able to trace it back to the selling company, they can connect to all the other sold smart devices through there. Upon connecting with all those sold devices, they will also be connected to people’s personal IoT systems, giving them access to several devices and potentially passwords and bank accounts. It is therefore extremely important for IoT devices to be safe and secure. However, it is not uncommon for IoT providers to have a lack of security, posing risks to passwords, locations, and other information of their users. Studies estimate that the economic impact of cybercrime may be as much as EUR 5,000 billion a year worldwide. 

    In order to address this issue, the European Commission has allocated EUR 40 million to eight research and development projects for IoT security. The most important one of these are SecurIoT, a project which provides services for risk assessment, IoT Crawler, a now finished project which researched smart communities to find secure ways of integrating IoT into society, and SOFIE, a project which aims to connect IoT platforms in order to find solutions together.

    High-risk suppliers

    In 2020, the European Commission has laid out an EU toolbox for 5G security. This toolbox underlines the importance of using 5G, but also acknowledges its potential dangers. Furthermore, it gives Member States guidelines on how to safely roll out a 5G network. However, in doing so the Member States have experienced certain difficulties, namely their reliance on big tech companies such as Huawei and ZTE. Indeed, the European Commission has identified them as ‘high-risk suppliers’ due to their likelihood of being influenced by specific third countries whose laws on security and corporate governance are seen as a potential threat to the security of the Union.

    Due to these high risks, and based on an assessment of the criteria set out in the Toolbox for identifying ‘high-risk suppliers’, the Commission considers that decisions adopted by Member States to restrict or exclude Huawei and ZTE are justified and compliant with the 5G Toolbox. In other words, Member States can now decide to restrict or exclude suppliers on the basis of security risk analysis. But to date, only 10 of them have used these prerogatives. According to Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Beton, this is too slow, and it poses a major security risk and exposes the Union’s collective security since it creates a major dependency of the EU on unreliable partners and serious vulnerabilities

    However, the European Court of Auditors has raised some concerns. One of these concerns is European reliance on High-Risk suppliers, as there are not many 5G suppliers big enough to support the whole of Europe with 5G networking. Even though the EU has given the green light for Member States to block High-Risk suppliers, Member States often have no other choice than to accept them.

    In 2023, to counter this, the European Commission founded the ECCC. The agency has been established to tackle and react to this dependency on foreign and unreliable actors, to foster the EU’s own cybersecurity industry and research so that it does not have to rely on High-Risk suppliers. The agency builds on the expertise that already exists in more than 660 cybersecurity expertise centres from all Member States and is supported by four pilot projects, which are running to lay the groundwork for the Competence Centre and Network.

    Picture 1: EU Toolbox for 5G Security 

    1. Food for thought

    So what should be done now? 5G plays a key role in our everyday life, but it might also expose us to a significant and constant threat. How can the EU strengthen its safety whilst also making use of 5G to its fullest potential? How can we keep using our smart devices and not worry about potential hackers?

    Below are a couple of examples of good videos and sites you should visit. I can highly advise you search the internet yourself as well, and gather as much information as you can. It is important to have a good understanding of the topic before the session. This subject might be a very technical and complicated one, and it might seem threatening at first, but I assure you that it is quite understandable after reading a bit about it. By watching the videos alone you should already have a good idea of the topic, and I am always here to help and support each and every one of you during the entire process with any doubts or questions you might have.

    Valuable Links to Browse

    If you are still wondering how 5G works, this article gives a comprehensive explanation of 5G: how it works, how the security works, and what the dangers are. But what really is the threat of 5G? Well, this short article by ENISA gives a quick explanation of their role in the threat assessment of 5G,  and how they contribute to 5G security.

    Maybe not everyone has the time to read articles, or perhaps you just learn better with videos. Therefore here are some videos which, together, give a good understanding of the topic.

    What does 5G really entail, where did it come from and what is it used for? This video gives a quick and good explanation of the history of 5G, what it adds to 4G and why it is useful for people to have it.

    How does 5G security really work? What are all the steps behind encrypting and securing using a 5G network and why is it useful? This video gives a quick 8-minute explanation of 5G and its security aspects.

    What are the dangers of 5G security? Why is it dangerous and what can we do about it? This video by VPN provider NordVPN gives a quick and good explanation of the downsides of 5G. It is only 3 minutes long but quite interesting to listen to.

    Finally, a more in-depth video about the risks of 5G and what should be done about it, and how it can indirectly lead to more damage.

  • ENVI

    ENVI

    Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety

    Vegetarian by circumstance: In 2022, due to a rapid increase in food prices, 8.3% of people in the EU were unable to afford a meal containing meat, fish or a vegetarian equivalent every second day, disproportionately affecting vulnerable groups. What steps can the EU take to ensure that access to food is both sustainable and equitable for all its citizens?

    By Jasmīna Bundule (LV)

    The Case Study

    Almost any person who has attended a grocery shop within the last two years has noticed a sharp rise in food prices, ranging from the price of a cucumber all the way to your favourite chocolate bar.  Every family has felt this rise, yet the families and individuals who are worse off are those who are already at risk of poverty. A single mother providing for her three children with a minimum wage is likely to have to decide to either provide her kids with fully nutritious meals containing meat, fish and vegetables at least twice a week or pay heating bills for their apartment. This is the harsh reality experienced by many in the EU, with countries such as Bulgaria being especially affected, since about 44.6% of those at risk of poverty, with the inability to afford a meal containing meat, fish or a vegetarian alternative every second day.

    Abstract

    The real food price inflation (rate of food price inflation minus overall inflation) reached 4% in October 2023 within the EU. Indeed, the bloc has seen a continuous inflation trend since 2022 due to a rise in energy costs, which reportedly has become the main worry for 93% of all EU citizens, which has had a knock-on effect on the agriculture industry. The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February of 2022 is the core driver of these phenomena, as Russia has been targeting the agricultural facilities in Ukraine that had been providing many of the EU Member States with sunflower oil and grains. The inflation has since decreased, yet the effects are strongly felt all over the EU, even in the wealthiest Member States such as Luxembourg and The Netherlands where 5% and 7% (respectively) of the population are unable to afford a meal containing meat, fish or a vegetarian alternative every second day.

    Picture 1: Share of the population unable to afford a meal with meat, fish or vegetarian equivalent every second day

    Key Concepts

    • Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): an urgent call for action adopted within the framework of the United Nations. It proposes a broad range of objectives that range from ending poverty and other deprivations to improving health and education, reducing inequality, and spurring economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests. SDG 2, in particular, focuses on malnutrition, the sustainability of agricultural production and its environmental impacts, hence direct progress regarding SDG 2 has the potential to solve the deprivation caused by inflation in food prices.
    • European Green Deal: it includes a number of policy proposals put forward by the European Commission, with the main goal of ensuring the EU becomes a more modern, resource-efficient economy. The overall aim is to ensure that there are no net emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050, that economies grow without simultaneously increasing resource use and that the green transition is fair to all societies and industries. This will affect virtually all EU competencies, such as energy, finance, regional development, agriculture, and industry. 
    • “Farm to Fork” strategy: the agricultural pillar of the European Green Deal, this strategy has been developed by the European Commission to ensure better and more environmentally friendly food production in the EU. It encompasses the goals of increasing sustainable food production, reducing food insecurity and keeping stable food prices by drafting regulations around farming, sales as well as consumption. There is currently no tangible progress recorded, since the EU was set to have the strategy proposed by the end of 2023,  and all the main goals are to be reached by 2030.
    • Common Agricultural Policy (CAP): one of the main policies of the EU, it aims to provide support to smaller farms to ensure the economic viability of European farmers, to improve agricultural productivity and to increase flexibility for Member States to implement measures that are best suited for local needs and capabilities. One of its main instruments is the Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Framework (PMEF), set up by the European Commission to support the CAP in the shift from rule compliance to showing performance and results. Based on the framework farmers as well as Member States will set goals in the area of farming, food production as well as distribution. 

    Key Actors and Stakeholders

    European Commission

    As the main executive body of the EU and the only one able to propose new legislation, it is one of the most important actors. Its Directorate-General for Environment (DG ENV) proposes and implements the Commission’s policies on the environment. Therefore, DG ENV has the power to put forward and develop a policy that aims at ensuring food availability to all citizens while also granting the sustainability of the food provided.

    European Central Bank (ECB)

    The EU body responsible for controlling the Eurozone and ensuring monetary stability. In order to ensure price stability, the ECB’s main task is to manage inflation, which in turn promotes economic growth and job creation. Therefore, the ECB holds the main accountability regarding the surge of food prices in February of 2022. 

    Member States

    EU Member States possess important powers within several policy areas that are relevant for this topic, such as environment, agriculture and public health. Indeed, the EU and Member States have shared competences over these sectors, which means that Member States can legislate nationally as long as the EU has not intervened. Hence, they can still operate at the national level on policies such as farming or requirements for food supplies. 

    Farmers

    If the European Green Deal’s aims, and especially the Farm to Fork Strategy’s, are to be achieved, individuals who are in charge of large industrial farms or smaller local ones must be willing to change their ways of working. However, this risks coming at a high cost for them, something which has led to frequent protests against green policies in the last years, as well as intense lobbying of EU institutions by farmers’ associations such as Copa-Cogeca. In particular, lobby groups have been fueled by studies published by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Wageningen University that argue that the Farm to Fork strategy will have a negative economic impact, leading to a reduction in farmers’ income and agricultural productivity.

    Non-governmental organisations (NGOs)

    When new legislation is proposed by the EU, NGOs often lobby the EU institutions, just like farming industries’ associations do, but in a direction that is usually opposed to the one that is wished for by these latter. For instance, NGOs have been denouncing the studies on which industries attempt to criticise the Farm to Fork strategy as “partial and incomplete”

    What Has Happened so Far?

    Eastern European countries struggle proportionately more

    According to research, Central and Eastern European (CEE) Member States struggle more than the other EU Member States when looking at the extent of material deprivation, which indicates that there are more people at risk of poverty than in countries with lower levels of deprivation. Furthermore, evidence suggests that CEE Member States were hit the hardest by the rising food prices since February 2022. The 3 countries with the highest share of people at risk of poverty, who are unable to afford a proper meal according to Eurostat (Picture 2) are Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia. Yet, although this represents a clear divide between these fresher Member States and the Western ones, there has been no explicit action from the EU to address these regional differences. 

    EU action on food prices 

    Several EU bodies have been working on trying and solving the issue of rising food prices, which represents a particularly transversal social, economic and environmental matter. The European Parliament began working towards food price reductions in March 2022 by calling for a  reduction of the EU’s dependence on key imported agricultural products and inputs, in particular by increasing the EU production of plant-based proteins. Member States also recognised the necessity of implementing changes to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in order to ensure future food security and sustainability. The EU also looked outward and pledged to provide 500€ million to support agricultural production in Ukraine as an attempt at tackling the source of the issue. Furthermore, possibly the biggest action from the ECB was the decision to increase interest rates by 4.50%, 4.75% and 4.00% respectively, with effect from 20 September 2023. This action aims at ensuring that people spend less, which should lead to prices decreasing within the EU; in addition, this should make the euro stronger as a currency, leading to a decrease of prices for food imports. This is highly important to the EU, since 9% of all EU food is imported, including the food coming in from Ukraine.

    EU progress towards the SDGs and the conflict between Farm to Fork and CAP

    The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) act as EU guidelines for progress on social and economic development with a focus on doing so sustainably. A yearly report monitors the EU’s performance on SDGs implementation.The 2023 edition of this report states that the trends in the area of malnutrition remain unfavourable. However, the trends in the agricultural sector have improved towards more productivity and increased public investments that, in turn, have the power to increase the amount of EU-produced agricultural items for consumption. The EU makes further contributions to reaching SDG 2 via the “Farm to Fork” strategy, which sits at the heart of the EU Green Deal. However, not only is there an existing conflict between the stakeholders involved in these sectors, for example, the farmers, NGOs and the EU, but also between the EU strategies, namely the CAP and the Farm to Fork strategy. 

    In the past, the CAP has already been criticised for halting the EU progress from reaching its sustainability targets and when the updated Farm to Fork strategy was published, the CAP policy proposal for funding had already been passed for the period of 2021-2027, with little hope of new amendments. The main issue lies in the lack of effective binding requirements within  the CAP framework for farmers to implement Farm to Fork sustainability measures. Indeed, one of the headlining targets of the Green Deal is a reduction of at least 55% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Overall, already during the 2014-2020 CAP period the EU has invested about € 100 billion from the CAP budget on climate change mitigation and adaptation, but so far the measures have had very little impact on improving emission rates. However, even after the approval of the Farm to Fork strategy, there is virtually no indication in the new CAP that targets the most emitting food sectors such as that of the livestock sector.


    Picture 2: The CAP objectives and Farm to Form strategy pillars

    Food for thought

    Environmental issues have a tendency to affect every part of our lives, whether it be because of their economic, social, agricultural or political effects. Because of this overlap, we are seeing slow progress from the EU institutions in addressing these pressing environmental issues, despite the numerous discussions and conferences taking place in the present day. We must recognise that efforts are being made by the governing institutions, but at the same time, we cannot forget to continue pushing for more progress as individuals. How can we ensure that the goals of policies are successfully reached? What can we as individuals contribute? Would involving other, smaller organisations in the pursuit of sustainability be effective and if so, what could they contribute?

    As you can see, the topic of food poverty and sustainability is multifaceted and can be discussed from many different perspectives, so when you are looking into it, I urge you to not overlook the small details. You will see how these small details regarding social issues, the work of the Commission or of local farmers and so much more will turn out to be puzzle pieces that will neatly line up with one another to show you yet another facet of this topic. I remember that when I was researching my first committee topic, I did not have a deep understanding of the EU, so not much of what I found made sense to me. Yet, my own Chairperson encouraged us all to keep in mind those pieces of information we found and see how clear they will become over time. To my surprise, they really did, so I encourage each of you to do the same and we will all piece it together!

    Valuable Links to Browse

    But how do we actually solve the issue or is there even a solution to the problem at all? Saying “let’s solve hunger in the EU” is a sweeping statement to make but how do we actually do it? When thinking of solutions to the issue at hand, researchers have proposed creating a meat tax to reduce meat consumption, thus attempting to increase the amount of vegetables produced and consumed. How willing would we be to adopt a diet with reduced meat or fish products? Check how well you comply with the SDGs with this quiz. The European Green Deal is not only concerned with the farmers, NGOs and MEPs but can also include you through the European Climate Pact which aims to involve citizens in the journey towards the goals of the EU Green Deal. Finally, if you have more questions on what and how much the EU population actually eats, and whether it really affects society as much as we think, check the article about EU consumerism

  • EMPL

    EMPL

    Committee on Employment and Social Affairs

    By Nicolau Huistra (ES)

    The Case Study

    In a world where machines are doing more and more jobs, imagine Rosa, a cool and creative girl who just finished studying Media and is doing her master’s in screenwriting. But, uh-oh, there is a twist! Robots and smart computers are getting pretty good at producing scripts themselves. Now Rosa’s feeling a bit like she is standing on a bridge and does not know which way to go. Even though she has a degree in Media Studies, she is worried about her dream of being a screenwriter because of these new innovations.

    Picture Rosa with her big dreams, worried about her future employment. She has got all these awesome skills, but the fact of studios and other employers who might choose technology over artists moving forward makes her wonder what’s the best path for her. This poses a challenge for a lot of young talents like Rosa, and it is why we need to figure out ways to help them stay motivated to join the workforce, even when robots are part of the picture.

    Abstract 

    Rising automation disrupts the job market, diminishing workers’ motivation. This persistent issue results from evolving technological landscapes and inadequate support systems. Although there was robust overall employment growth from 2012 to 2019, occupations at high risk of automation experienced a slower rate of job expansion. Additionally, people with lower education are getting concentrated in jobs with a higher risk of automation.

    The convergence of the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the global COVID-19 pandemic has instigated substantial changes. AI adoption has accelerated, impacting various industries, while the pandemic has prompted a shift in work dynamics, emphasising remote and automated solutions. Together, these forces have reshaped traditional structures, accelerating digitalisation and altering how work is conducted and perceived on a global scale. 

    The urgency of upskilling and reskilling poses imminent challenges for individuals, businesses, and governments, with profound implications for personal well-being, societal prosperity, and self-fulfilment. Effective public policies are crucial for inclusivity in the workforce, necessitating collaboration among various stakeholders.

    Key Concepts 

    • Bottleneck: in this context, the term refers to essential tasks related to perception, manipulation, social intelligence, and creative thinking.
    • Automation is the pandemic accelerated automation and algorithmic workforce management, reshaping global work dynamics, a transformation expected to endure.
    • Upskilling refers to  acquiring additional skills or knowledge to enhance one’s capabilities in the current job or prepare for future career advancements.
    • Lifelong learning emphasises the continuous development of skills and knowledge throughout one’s life, adapting to changes in the job market and technological advancements.
    • Digital inclusion refers to ensuring that everyone has fair access to and can effectively use information and communication technologies (ICT), especially as industries undergo a digital transformation.

    Key Actors and Stakeholders

    The European Commission 

    As the executive branch of the EU, the Commission has the authority to propose and implement policies that can guide Member States in navigating the evolving job market. Given its role in promoting economic and social cohesion across the EU, the Commission is well-positioned to coordinate efforts aimed at reskilling and upskilling the younger generation.

    Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs, and Inclusion (DG EMPL)

    Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs, and Inclusion (DG EMPL) is responsible for contributing to developing and implementing policies that promote employment, social inclusion, and equal opportunities throughout the EU. It works on initiatives related to employment and labour market policies, skills development, social protection, and the overall well-being of EU citizens in the context of the changing world of work.

    Eurofound

    Eurofound is an EU agency based in Dublin, Ireland, whose mission is to provide knowledge to assist in the development of better social, employment, and work-related policies. Eurofound’s work includes studying topics such as youth employment, job quality, and the impact of technological changes on the workforce.

    European Employment Services (EURES)

    European Employment Services (EURES) is a cooperation network which helps job seekers access employment opportunities in other European countries and provides support to employers looking to recruit from a wider European talent pool. 

    European Youth Forum

    Works as an umbrella organisation that brings together non-governmental youth organisations in Europe. Because it represents the interests of young people and youth organisations at the European level their implication can be of great help to promote young people’s role in  the workforce.

    Young people

    Empowering the youth through inclusive policies and initiatives is fundamental to cultivating a resilient and adaptable workforce for the future. Young individuals need to adapt and acquire skills that align with the requirements of automated industries, influencing educational and training programs.

    What Has Happened so Far?

    Investment in innovation

    Innovation will be crucial in addressing frictions and adjustment challenges in the labour market resulting from automation. Based on an analysis of the McKinsey Global Institute, approximately 62 million full-time employee equivalents and over USD 1.9 trillion in wages could be linked to technically automatable tasks in the five largest European economies. Nevertheless, a significant approach to mitigating the risk of wage and employment pressures is to innovate in the development of new products and services that necessitate acquiring new and highly sought-after skills. 

    The European Union is set to invest €180 million in groundbreaking digital technologies through its Horizon Europe Programme. The funding, allocated to 28 selected projects after a peer review in March 2023, will advance research and development in key areas such as AI, robotics, and new materials. The EU aims to propel the development and adoption of cutting-edge technologies. This strategic investment aligns with Europe’s vision for a digital, sustainable, and inclusive future. The outcome for youth employment will depend on how well educational systems and workforce development programs adapt to equip young people with the necessary skills for emerging industries. If effectively managed, the innovation could lead to  positive outcomes for youth employment within the EU. Since AI is rapidly advancing its effects are likely to disproportionately influence the younger generation, particularly those who have not yet entered the workforce.

    Industry transformations

    An initial assessment of the automation risk in the EU labour market, utilising data on job skills and tasks from the first European skills and jobs survey by Cedefop, indicates that approximately 14% of jobs in the EU are susceptible to displacement by computer algorithms. Occupations with a greater dependency on routine tasks and limited demand for versatile and interpersonal skills are more likely to be impacted. Workers with lower educational levels and those employed in positions with minimal vocational training are at a heightened risk of automation.

    It should be noted that the risk of losing jobs to machines is higher for men and those who are less skilled, especially if they lack digital and versatile skill sets. This risk is heightened in bigger, privately-owned companies that don’t offer extra training. Jobs in crafts, basic roles, and machine operations are more at risk, while managers, white-collar workers, teachers and those in social services are safer. Being in a high-risk job can make people less happy at work, worrying more about job loss or their skills becoming outdated soon. The graph below offers insight into the share of EU workers at very high risk of automation, by industry.

    Picture 1: Share of EU workers at very high risk of automation, by industry, EU28
    Picture 1: Risk of automation by industry

    Social effects

    To address the challenges of preparing education systems for the future, redesigning social welfare systems, and funding social programs, the TECHNEQUALITY project, supported by the EU, is not only examining the impact of AI and robots on work. It is also investigating how automation might affect different social groups within our society and how technological innovations could potentially amplify social inequalities in the EU and beyond.

    There is a pressing need for comprehensive policies that address workforce transitions, promote upskilling, and ensure inclusive economic growth. The impact on various social groups, such as gender and age, also requires careful consideration.

    Policy measures

    Recently, the European Parliament has approved the AI act with the intention of ensuring the safety, transparency, traceability, non-discrimination, and environmental friendliness of AI systems utilised within the EU. The supervision of AI systems should be conducted by humans rather than automation to mitigate potential negative consequences.

    In addressing the labour market challenges posed by robotisation and automation, three main policy solutions have emerged. These options include taxing robot owners to fund universal or conditional basic income, promoting ownership of robots, either collectively or individually, and emphasising human comparative advantages by investing in the development of creative and social intelligence through state-sponsored training programs, education reforms, and lifelong learning initiatives.

    Conflict

    The advancement of AI presents a paradoxical situation. While AI holds great potential to enhance efficiency and solve complex problems, the increasing automation it brings may lead to job displacement. Striking a balance between harnessing the benefits of AI and addressing its potential negative impacts is crucial. This involves not only embracing technological innovation but also implementing policies and initiatives that mitigate job displacement, foster skill development, and ensure a workforce that remains motivated and engaged in the evolving job market.

    Food for thought

    In the wild environment that is the tech world, things are changing fast — especially for us, the young crew! Beyond the cool gadgets and apps, there is a whole adventure unfolding in the job scene. Building resilience in an increasingly automated job market is all about developing skills that not only benefit young people now but also set them up for a future that is always upgrading. 

    Alright, let’s get to the real talk. I get it—automation and job market shifts sound like a giant puzzle, and you might be thinking, “How do I even begin?” Well, guess what? I have got your back. As a Delegate, I remember reading topic overviews and thinking, ‘What on earth are they talking about?’ But with a bit of time and patience, it all starts making sense. This subject might stress you out initially, but believe me, this session is going to be an amazing experience that will make you more knowledgeable in this field. So, buckle up and have some fun!

    Valuable Links to Browse 

    For a clear explanation of the common threats and opportunities there are regarding automation in the workplace, you can take a look here. Additionally, you can also check out this pdf document which includes two informative charts and explains difficult terms that might be challenging to understand. And lastly, for additional information about the key concepts I mentioned before and the direction the EU is taking regarding this issue, here you can find a briefing on what the future of work in the EU might look like, and if you want to go more in-depth on that subject you can also take a look at a more recent report here.

  • CULT

    CULT

    Committee on Culture and Education

    By Mirela Bertinelli (ES) 

    The Case Study 

    Emma, 35, is a Human Resources Manager at a distinguished company. Faced with a personnel shortage, Emma undertakes the task of seeking individuals interested in joining her company. Before going through the resumes, Emma remembers that under the company’s requisites, prospective employees are obligated to summarise the entirety of the company’s sales data through a spreadsheet before getting hired. While going through the resumes, Emma is astounded by their exceptionality. Each candidate exhibits extensive experience, an impressive academic background, and a genuine eagerness to secure employment. However, a significant impediment arises—none of the applicants possess the fundamental knowledge essential for navigating the sources employed by the company. This presents Emma with a formidable challenge: the quest for candidates equipped with elementary digital skills.

    Abstract 

    Like Emma, numerous managers are in similar situations, acknowledging that more than 90% of European professional positions require basic digital skills,  as we can see in Picture 1. However, there is a contrasting narrative: individuals possessing advanced degrees and substantial qualifications are being told that their expertise lacks specialisation, potentially in digital areas unrelated to their academic pursuits. This challenge goes beyond the employed demographic, affecting the younger generation whose future is more likely to be immersed in digital devices.

    Taking into account that the academic pursuits that the younger generation has can vary, there is an increase in the decline in youth engagement with IT subjects. Therefore, the action must be taken to safeguard the essential digital knowledge of upcoming generations, for it is the key to unlocking future efficacy and innovation within the EU. Failure to act now may result in irreparable consequences that might heavily impact many generations ahead of us. This highlights the importance of implementing measures to safeguard the essential knowledge of upcoming generations, promoting both efficacy and innovation within the EU.

    Picture 1: Percentage of European enterprises that reached a basic level of digital intensity

    Key Concepts

    • Basic digital skills is proficiency in discovering, assessing, utilising, sharing, and generating content through digital devices like computers and smartphones.
    • Digital skills gap is disparity between the digital skills imparted by the education system, and the skills desired by employers. 
    • Digitalisation is the operation of a system or process via the use of computers and the Internet.
    • Technology exposure refers to the degree of interaction individuals have with digital devices and platforms in personal and professional contexts. 
    • Digital jobs refers to employment opportunities that primarily involve the use of digital technologies and skills. These jobs leverage digital tools, platforms, and processes to perform tasks, deliver services, or create products. 
    • Critical digital areas are specific industries, systems, or aspects in the digital domain that are considered highly important due to their impact on aspects like national security, economic stability, and public well-being. These areas include like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Common Data Spaces, high-performance computing or 5G.
    • eSkills can include proficiency in using software, navigating digital platforms, understanding internet safety, and other competencies relevant to the digital landscape. It is crucial to distinguish these from basic digital skills.

    Key Actors and Stakeholders

    The Directorate-General on Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG CONNECT)

    The Directorate-General on Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG CONNECT) is a part of the European Commission, and its role is to develop and implement policies in the field of information and communication technologies (ICT) to help further the EU’s advancement into the digital age. It develops guidelines in sectors such as the digital economy and society as well as research and innovation, both in direct relation to AI and the EU’s approach to this rising industry.

    Through funding and legislation, DG CONNECT aims to secure leadership in Europe in critical digital areas. Their goals include elevating Europe to a position of global leadership in the data economy and in cybersecurity, promoting a fair internal market, implementing high-speed networks, and promoting a human-centric, innovative, and sustainable digital transformation.

    European Health and Digital Executive Agency (HaDEA)

    The European Health and Digital Executive Agency (HaDEA) embodies the European Commission’s commitment to rebuild a post-COVID-19 Europe in a digital way. Its mission is to promote widespread digitalisation across Europe to achieve sustainable digital transformation through programmes like Horizon Europe, which aims to reach innovation in Europe. The Connecting Europe Facility, which promotes and accelerates investments in digital connectivity infrastructures that are of common interest to Europe, as well as the Digital Europe programme, which seeks to develop the strategic digital capabilities of the EU and facilitate the extensive adoption of digital technologies.

    World Labor Organisation (ILO)

    The World Labor Organisation (ILO) unites the governments, employers, and workers from Member States and its mission encompasses the establishment of labour standards, formulation of policies, and creation of programs aimed at advancing the cause of decent work. ILO also highlights the digitalisation in the workforce and that is why this organisation has intervened through policies in diverse workforce areas. The main idea of employment policy is trying to highlight the potential of digitalization to help employment generation and to increase companies productivity. The areas in which it is taking action are for example; digital inclusion, digital labour platforms and obviously, digital skills.

    Member States

    Technological development is a shared competence between the European Commission’s Directorate-Generals and each Member State, which can adopt an internal approach in accordance with the Union-wide recommendations. This can refer to state-wide regulations through legislation and campaigns.

    Citizens in the workforce

    Due to the lack of eSkills, citizens are not able to find a job that aligns with their preferences, leading them to settle for alternative employment that may not align with their true desires.

    Youth

    Taking into account the increase in the usage of digital devices in schools and educational environment, this lack of digital skills could not only affect their educational situation, but also in personal fields like communicating with their relatives or friends. Furthermore, almost 20% of young people in developing countries, such as Hungary and Poland, do not end primary school and so they lack not only basic education but also the digital skills required for employment. 

    What Has Happened so Far?

    Digitalisation’s effect on the labour market

    The inevitability of digital transformation becomes evident through the data presented in Picture 2, emphasising the essential connection between organisational evolution and the corresponding enhancement of employee skills. While it may seem insignificant, the absence of technological skills hinders individuals and exposes companies to financial risks by impeding their ability to maximise efficiency. The lack of basic digital skills in companies also contributes to potential financial challenges as those not investing in internal workforce development risk losing competitiveness not only between the company’s personnel but in the market as well. Despite the awareness of the digital skills gap, skill shortages persist, particularly in areas like data science and digital business management. Skill shortages can lead to hiring underprepared employees, which results in wasted salaries and lost profits for companies. It is essential for businesses to prioritise hiring qualified candidates to ensure they can contribute efficiently to the company’s work.

    Picture 2. EU’s Digital Intensity Index in 2021 in % of enterprises

    There is a divided perspective on whether employees should possess digital skills. Some claim that lack of education should exempt individuals from needing digital skills for certain jobs, while others contend that staying updated with cutting-edge technology is crucial for effective participation in a company.

    Technology and children

    In today’s world, children are surrounded by technology, from smartphones and social media to TV and tablet-based toys. While it is crucial for the younger generation to cultivate technological skills for lifelong use, excessive technology exposure can have adverse impacts on their health and physical well-being. The range of negative effects includes a heightened risk of obesity and diminished social skills. Even though the abusive usage of technological devices in children can cause some drawbacks to their health, we have to be aware of the rapidly evolving technology, and the future knowledge of younger generations. The impact of cutting-edge technology currently under research such as facial scanning and AI-driven profiling is growing, impacting various aspects of children’s lives, including education, social well-being, and potential future employment opportunities. Moreover, the extent to which they comprehend the digital landscape can significantly shape their schooling as well as other aspects of their lives. This means that the majority of children will have to acquire fundamental technological skills either through school or later-life programs in Europe, where the responsible use of technology is assured as well as the welfare of the students.

    Legislation in the EU

    Considering that the increasing use of digital devices is seen as a component of research and technological development, an area where the EU holds shared competence, the role is limited to offering guidance to each Member State. However, individual states will independently enact their legislation, indicating that this solution will not be applicable uniformly across Europe.

    Nevertheless, the European Commission is actively addressing the digital skills gap. It is engaged in initiatives to enhance digital skills and is supporting projects and strategies for this purpose. These efforts aim to elevate the overall level of digital skills across Europe. Some of the implemented initiatives include Digital Europe Programme and Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition (DSJC). The objectives of the Digital Europe Programme encompass increasing the quality of education and training institutions, as well as generating interest among Europeans to pursue digital careers and attract people to the digital sector. The Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition is an EU initiative fostering collaboration among Member States, companies, social partners, non-profit organisations, and education providers to address the digital skills gap in Europe. It serves as a platform for organisations to share insights, showcase initiatives, and highlight the impact, playing a crucial role in achieving the Digital Decade targets

    Food for thought

    Digitalisation of the job field is slowly becoming the norm, and it cannot be ignored. As humans, we are curious beings, and we will always be searching for the next evolutionary practice to improve work efficiency, and make our lives easier as a whole, a process which involves automation to some degree. It is time to recognise the significance of digitalisation and take necessary measures to ensure we’re ready for the changes ahead. Though it may seem daunting at first, do not be afraid to ask yourself all the questions during your research. Is it possible for digital devices to replicate all human capabilities? Considering that digital devices can be harmful to children, how should their education be structured to attain a basic level of digital skills? How can Member States ensure the basic learning of these eSkills?

    Hey hey! I hope you found this topic interesting and that I provided information that you may find useful. Setting aside the academic part, I would like to tell you that you will do amazing! I know that the academic part might be a little overwhelming, but do not worry, everyone who is here has experienced the same as you! So, try to learn a lot, express your opinions openly and the most important thing, have fun and meet a lot of new people!

    Valuable Links to Browse

    For a better presentation on how digital skills are important in all matters, you should take into account the information found on this website which is related to the relation EU-Jobs.

    You can find this TED talk as well that will help you to understand the roots of the topic. Moreover, another interesting TED talk that might help you understand the importance of digital skills is here.

    Also, in this article, it is shown the opinion of a 22-year-old who is aware of the digital skills gap between his friends as well as the point of view of an employer.

    Lastly, this article shows how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the surge of digitalisation.

  • AFCO

    MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION BY THE COMMITTEE  ON CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS

    Are you listening?: According to the United Nations, less than 2% of parliamentarians worldwide are under 30 years old, while half of the world’s population falls into this age category. Considering the current popularity of alternative forms of political participation, how can the EU combat the underrepresentation of its young people in decision-making processes?

    Submitted by: Basmala Abdelwahab, Sarrah Aulman, Anna Bachem, Saffan Dollart, Senno Evers, Yara Charlotte den Haan, Fayrouz El Hamus, Nikkie Hollander, Aleksei Kupa, Laurence Verbree,  Natia Ninoshvili (Chairperson, GE)

    The European Youth Parliament aims to create a diverse political field where people of all ages are equally represented and their opinions are acknowledged. Reducing ageism and stereotypes in politics to a minimum is crucial. We strive to create a functional education system where everyone receives the knowledge needed to be an active citizen. We also aim to make participation in politics more accessible to youth by inflicting changes in the legal system, as young people deserve agency to determine their future.

    The European Youth Parliament,

    1. Concerned that young people do not feel drawn to traditional political participation due to:
      1. the lack of presence of people under 30 years of age, aggravated by the average age of European parliamentarians being 50,
      2. the unattractiveness of the political climate,
      3. the stigma surrounding politician’s personal safety,
    2. Keeping in mind the lack of representation of young people’s opinions leading to demotivation regarding participation,
    3. Noting with deep concern the bias the older generation has regarding the youth causing a lack of trust in the ability to participate in political decision-making,
    4. Aware of the fact that the entry requirements for traineeships at the European Parliament, such as minority language and education, are inordinate for people with less financial, geographical or cultural opportunities,
    5. Bearing in mind that the voting age and age to running for candidacy for the European Parliament differ amongst Member States, leading to an unequal representation of the youth from different states,
    6. Reconfirming that governments do not take into account the opinions expressed by the youth in decision-making concerning young citizens,
    7. Alarmed by the lack of knowledge regarding politics and the late education on the subject within schools leading to potentially reduced involvement in traditional politics,
    8. Noting with regret that platforms for political youth participation are not sufficiently promoted or used to their fullest extent;
    1. Calling upon the Directorate-General for Communications to publicly promote more representation of the youth in politics to eliminate mistrust of older politicians; 
    2. Encouraging the legislative bodies of Member States to increase sentences or introduce community service as an additional sentence against threatening politicians in any way shape or form;
    3. Suggesting Member States to adjust the voting age and the age to run for candidacy for the European Parliament to be equal throughout Europe;
    4. Strongly urging politicians to take into account the opinions of the young people by listening to Youth Councils, such as the European Youth Forum, with a minimum of one hearing every three months being dedicated to this purpose;
    5. Further urging the EU to reserve 7% of the European Commission seats for people under 30 with an eventual goal of achieving 15% representation;
    6. Asking the European Commission to provide further financial support for educational programmes associated with political youth participation;
    7. Recommending the EU to make social studies a mandatory subject at schools for at least a year and make it available for those who want to continue studying it;
    8. Advising Member States to provide workshops at schools to teach students about politics in the form of field trips to political institutions, mock elections, and political school activities;
    9. Requesting the Directorate-General for Education and Culture to support the implementation of political education from an earlier age of 12 to familiarise youth with such topics;
    10. Asking the International Institute for Educational Planning to make an optional course for teenage students that can help them prepare for their political careers;
    11. Directs the EU to provide traineeships for high school graduates with a willingness to join the European Parliament;
    12. Instructing that the number of required languages is lowered for the already-existing traineeship for bachelor’s degree graduates.

    Fact sheet

    Traditional politics: Direct political participation in parliaments, political parties, and (inter)national governments. 

    Current entry requirements for the Schuman Traineeship with the European Parliament: The applicants must:

    • Be aged 18 or over, 
    • Be citizens of either an EU member state or an accession/candidate nation, 
    • Hold a university diploma, 
    • Have a strong knowledge of one of the EU’s official languages and excellent knowledge of a second, 
    • Provide an eligible criminal record, 
    • Not have worked for any other type of traineeship in an EU institution for more than two consecutive months, or 
    • Not have completed a study visit to the European Parliament Secretariat six months previous to the start of the traineeship. 

    Voting age: A legal minimum age that a person must reach in order to be able to vote in a public election.

    Age for running for candidacy: The national law determines the qualifying age to run for office in the European elections. The minimum age required to run for office in the European elections varies significantly, ranging from 18 to 25 years old. 

    The European Youth Forum (EYF): A platform for youth-led organisations in Europe which is funded by Erasmus + and the Council of Europe. The goal of the EYF is to represent young people, where they will be treated equally as citizens, and empowered to realise their full potential as global citizens.Social studies: Deals with human behaviour, resources, relationships and institutions. Specific topics include history, geography, sociology, politics, economics and anthropology.

  • JURI I

    MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION BY THE COMMITTEE  ON LEGAL AFFAIRS I

    Are we going the right way?: With Hungary being declared as an autocracy and the rise of far-right ideologies in several Member States, democratic and EU values are at risk. What measures can the EU take to ensure the perseverance of rule of law and democracy in the European political sphere?

    Submitted by: Lina Assalhi, Sofia Boll, Astrid Bråtman, Damnjana Dimitrijević, Ella Hagberg, Hashim Khalid, Mirte van Oorschot, Iva Pavlovic, Ester Pernsjö, Marek Jankovský (Chairperson, CZ)

    The European Youth Parliament aims to ensure that the EU values, including the rule of law and democracy, are being upheld and respected across all Member States. It further seeks to re-stabilise the adherence to fundamental EU values through the restructuring of control and sanctioning mechanisms. Finally, it also aims to provide aid to individuals who suffered upon a breach of fundamental EU values and seeks to further support the development of critical theory.

    The European Youth Parliament,

    1. Alarmed by the threat posed by discriminatory narratives, such as racism, xenophobia, or homophobia, to the citizens of the European Union by far-right movements,
    2. Aware of the risks represented by far-right ideologies that promote protectionism and welfare chauvinism, an anti-immigrant discourse based on fear and hatred, or traditional family and religious values,
    3. Alarmed by the ongoing violations of fundamental values of the EU set out in Article 2 on the Treaty on the European Union by several Member States, such as Hungary and Poland,
    4. Aware of the insufficient inquiry, examination, and analysis of the causes of the rise of far-right groups, movements, and political parties,
    5. Concerned by the threats posed to judicial independence and democratic principles by the extensive influence of the executive and legislative branches of power on the judiciary branch,
    6. Acknowledging that existing controlling and sanctioning mechanisms against breaches of EU values provide limited grounds for action, as exemplified by:
      1. the limited effectiveness of the conditionality mechanism,
      2. the factual inapplicability of the sanctioning proceedings under Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU),
    7. Concerned by the actions of several Member States’ governments threatening media independence  including:
      1. Member States’ or state-associated bodies obtaining ownership of extensive numbers of media outlets,
      2. control of media content presented to the general public,
      3. strict enforcement of a single party’s political stance or insufficient representation of minority opinions,
      4. extensive presentation of ethnocentric content in media,
    8. Taking into account the negative consequences of significant limitations to fundamental freedoms occurring in several Member States such as restrictions of academic freedom of educational institutions, freedom of association, freedom of assembly, and freedom of expression of specific groups and organisations,
    9. Deeply concerned by the misuse of EU funds by some Member States;
    1. Endorses existing EU frameworks and organisations aiding individuals facing discrimination, such as homophobia, racism and xenophobia;
    2. Urges the European Commission to initiate an in-depth monitoring process concerning the situation of democracy, the rule of law, and fundamental EU values in Member States through:
      1. amending the rule of law framework,
      2. restricting the criteria of the rule of law checklist;
    3. Proposes an amendment of the sanctioning mechanism under Article 7(2) of the Treaty on European Union to change the voting requirements from unanimity to a four-fifths majority of the European Council to determine the existence of a serious and persistent breach of EU values;
    4. Seeks the Fundamental Rights Agency to further the EU’s understanding of the causes of far-right populism by appointing a research group on far-right populism;
    5. Recommends that EU institutions promote and monitor the independence of the judiciary in Member States via means of regular dialogues with Member States’ governments;
    6. Calls upon the European Commission to build upon the rule of law conditionality regulation by introducing further financial sanctions for Member States’ violation of EU values by September 2023;
    7. Appeals to the European Commission to protect the freedom of association and assembly by acting upon the European Parliament resolution of 8 March 2022, on the shrinking space for civil society in Europe;
    8. Further calls upon the Directorate-General for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union (DG FISMA) to minimise the risk of misuse of EU funds by:
      1. introducing regular financial inspections under the European system of financial supervision,
      2. releasing the results of financial inspections;
    9. Suggests the European Commission to provide financial support to independent media  contributing to the upholding of EU values in Member States;
    10. Asks the European Commission to support civil society activities by:
      1. funding existing programmes and non-governmental organisations educating and raising awareness about the diversity of the information on the internet,
      2. emphasising the importance of differentiating between credible and biased sources in education,
      3. collaborating with NGOs that are involved with the youth across Member States.

    Fact sheet

    Welfare chauvinism: the political idea that welfare benefits should be restricted to certain groups, particularly to the natives of a country as opposed to immigrants.

    Treaty on the European Union (TEU): one of the EU treaties, binding agreements approved voluntarily and democratically by all EU Member States. Along with the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), it sets out EU objectives, rules for EU institutions, how decisions are made and the relationship between the EU and its Member States.

    Unanimity: a complete agreement among every member of a group.
    The Regulation on a General Regime of Conditionality for the Protection of the Union  Budget: also known as the Conditionality mechanism, it allows the EU to, inter alia, suspend payments to Member States in cases where there is both a breach of rule of law principles and the said breach presents a risk to the EU’s financial interests.

  • DROI

    MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION BY COMMITTEE ON HUMAN RIGHTS

    Born at risk: Transgender people are over four times more likely than cisgender people to be the victims of violent crime and 2021 registered a record number of 50 violent fatal incidents. What actions can the EU take to protect the fundamental rights and physical integrity of its targeted Citizens?

    Submitted by: Isthea Amoilafoe, Tayma El Yalte, Jente Goossens, Leah Israël, Evy Minnaar, Leo Pettersson, Alice Rapp, Tuur van Berge Henegouwen, Benjamin Stephenson (Chairperson, CH/NL)

    The European Youth Parliament aims to protect transgender people in the EU against transphobic violence at its source by curbing microaggressions, fetishisation, and non-inclusive legislation while promoting positive representation of trans people in the media and providing education on the topic. Ultimately, we strive to change societal perspectives and extend the legal protection of trans people.

    The European Youth Parliament,

    1. Alarmed by the increase in the rate of violence against transgender people,
    2. Recognising the importance of intersectionality when addressing trans violence,
    3. Fully aware of the psychological damage that transgender and gender non-conforming people experience due to not feeling safe to express themselves fully,
    4. Concerned by the prevalence of transphobic microaggressions towards trans people potentially leading to the normalisation of transphobia,
    5. Worried by the fact that transgender and gender non-conforming people are often coerced into situations directly endangering their safety,
    6. Regretting the hesitancy of transgender people to trust law enforcement authorities in instances of experienced violence due to a historically bad relationship between the police and trans people,
    7. Noting with concern that trans people are more prone to sexual violence due to the widespread fetishisation of trans people,
    8. Observing that the lack of statutory law protections for non-transitioned transgender and gender non-conforming people prevents the prosecution of hate crimes carried out against them;
    1. Calls upon ILGA-Europe’s trans-oriented subsidiaries to facilitate intersectional trans-focused awareness in their respective locations;
    2. Invites the Directorate-General for Budget (DG BUDG) to encourage fund distribution to intersectional trans-inclusive cultural media projects;
    3. Suggests Member States establish the role of a trans-specialised counsellor at police stations nationwide responsible for facilitating communication with transgender victims;
    4. Directs DG BUDG to allocate further funding to Trans United Europe to establish genderqueer-exclusive shelters and genderqueer-friendly shelters;
    5. Asks Member States to establish a national helpline for trans people;
    6. Directs the Court of Justice of the European Union to make amendments to existing hate crime legislation in order to include non-binary trans people and trans people who have not transitioned medically;
    7. Encourages Member States to communicate best practices and existing statutory law regarding hate crimes against transgender people to aid further development of statutory law throughout the EU.

    Fact sheet

    Transgender: An umbrella term for people whose gender identity does not conform to the sex they were assigned at birth. 

    Intersectionality: How discrimination can combine, overlap and intersect in the experiences of marginalised individuals.

    Microaggression: An action that subtly (and typically unconsciously) expresses a prejudice towards a member of a marginalised group.Fetishisation: An unreasonable amount of importance given to an object or person.