Category: ANC’23 Topic Overviews

  • AFCO


    Committee on Constitutional Affairs

    Chaired by Natia Ninoshvili (GE)

    Topic Pitch

    The gap between the representation of young people and their engagement in the development of European policy is expanding, partly due to the ongoing demographic transition1, potentially leading to systemic disadvantages for Europeans in the future. The Council of Europe declared its goal to “enable young people to be active citizens socially, as well as in the work-life”, thus joining other European institutions and organisations that frequently emphasise this issue. Youth involvement is crucial to promoting young people’s active citizenship2, improving their integration and inclusion, and strengthening their contribution to the operation and expansion of the democratic conversation.

    To promote the revitalisation of parliaments, ten years ago the members of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) approved a remarkable resolution on youth engagement. However, these countries have only achieved somewhat success since its implementation, as, despite the union’s routine measurement of youth representation in parliaments, the numbers are still low.

    Key Learnings

    • Currently, the average age of Members of the European Parliament is still 50 years, with national averages ranging from 44 to 60.
    • Young people are important stakeholders in the roots of change, contributing to a more just and peaceful society. 
    • Young adults are those who choose engagement as they provide them with more informal, non-institutionalised, and individually important avenues of action.
    • Traditional political fora provide obstacles to younger participation, thus young people feel excluded from traditional, mainstream ways of influencing political decision-making.
    • The voting age and other standards concerning youth political measures differ among Member States.

    The Present


    The promotion of intergenerational discussion requires the involvement of young people. The younger generation tends to receive distrust and criticism from policymakers regarding their competency. However, from a legal perspective, they are entitled to engage in decision-making processes which further impact their future, considering that they will face the risks of outcomes. The reduction in political party membership that is visible across European democracies is further echoed by the declining participation of young people in institutions. Young people aged 15 to 24 are the youth cohort as defined by Eurobarometer surveys. Young individuals who do not (yet) have the right to vote or to take part in political activities are included in this age category. This impacts the attitudes and participation patterns of this generation, as they exhibit lower scores in nearly all examined areas of political participation (Figure 1).

    Key Stakeholders

    • The European Youth Forum (EYF) is 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. According to the EYF, young people tend to be ambassadors of a powerful change, noting the current uncertainty in political and social matters affecting them. 
    • The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) has promoted democracy for everyone since 1989 by supporting and closely collaborating with the initiatives of the United Nations. Additionally, the IPU collaborates with international non-governmental and intergovernmental organisations, that share the same values and regional inter-parliamentary groups based in those countries.
    • The Council of Europe supports political, legislative, and constitutional reform, additionally aiming to maintain democratic stability in Europe with its three core values: integrity, respect and professionalism. These objectives are to be reached through discussions regarding agreements and concerns in economic, social, legal or administrative matters, further cultivating human rights and freedom. The council also funds the EYF and other platforms for young active citizens
    • EU40 represents under-40-year-old members of the European Parliament, and their endeavours to improve their role. The network, nevertheless, includes key people from the European Commission and the Council. EU40 strives to create synergies between politicians and industries while emphasising most areas that are relevant to the current political climate. A partnership between EU40 and the European Youth Parliament of Italy for the 92nd International Session of Milan was also established in 2021, thus showcasing an example of its collaboration with non-governmental youth organisations.
    • The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) provides impartial, evidence-based assistance to EU and national decision-makers, assisting in the improvement of fundamental rights discussions, policies, and legislation. The recent FRA’s Fundamental Rights Survey gathered respondents’ experiences, attitudes, and opinions related to human rights. However, the survey indicates a lack of political participation3 among young people. 

    Legal Framework/Measures already in place

    The FRA  produced a report in 2017 which puts forward the requirements and age limits in  Member States concerning citizens’ political participation. The majority of Member States require candidates to be at least 18 years old to stand for office. The report also points out inconsistencies, gaps in protection, and limitations resulting from various age thresholds. The issue of less youth activism is already acknowledged in the EU Youth Strategy 2019-2027. It supports the social and civic engagement of young people, while also fostering their participation in a democratic society.

    The IPU Global Conference of Young Parliamentarians is a platform for young members representing their countries in the United Nations. The meetings are held annually, targeted at discussing, knowledge-sharing, and identifying ways and strategies towards youth empowerment. Furthermore, a delegation of four young MPs (under the age of 45) from each national parliament are invited to attend the conference. These conferences aim to promote solidarity, and intergenerational support, as well as mobilise parliamentarians of all ages for youth empowerment, by focusing on various themes. In line with the Paris Agreement, young parliamentarians from around the world gathered in the last meeting to discuss the climate crisis

    The Young Elected Politicians Programme (YEP) unites politicians in the EU who have been elected at the regional or municipal level and are under the age of 40. Each year, a call for applications to the programme is released. Through the programme, YEPs will have the chance to connect with other young politicians, take part in training regarding issues the EU is facing, and take part in activities run by the European Committee on Regions (CoR). Nevertheless, the YEP encourages local and regional politicians to share practices; assists those areas in grasping and embracing opportunities provided by the EU and gives young people the chance to be involved in the legislative process. With the creation of the,  young elected EU lawmakers have the possibility to network with fellow politicians. 

    In 2021, the IPU launched a campaign called I Say Yes to Youth in Parliament!, which has been promoted in fifteen countries4 so far. It urges policymakers to take action so that there are more young people serving in parliaments. The campaign’s foundations are goals that young legislators recognised as the most effective means of bringing about dramatic change – supporting youth channels in parliament, empowering young members of parliament, mentoring young aspirants, and advocating for youth involvement, while also aligning the voting age[efn_note]Voting age is a legal minimum age that a person must reach in order to be able to vote in a public election.[/efn_note] with the qualifying age5.

    The Future

    Conflicts/Key Challenges

    Young people all around the world are not waiting to be heard. Instead, they insist on claiming their space, fighting for change, and giving back to their communities, despite the numerous obstacles that prevent them from entering and actively participating in official political settings. Arguably, a paradox in legislation exists – although young people have a right to run for public office and contribute to decision-making, the laws prevent them due to age discrimination

    Lack of trust

    One of the barriers to youth representation is the lack of trust in the younger generation. The adult-centric belief that the opinions or skills of younger people are underdeveloped and a bias that young people are uninterested are likely to be the two most prevalent factors. Therefore, this may result in an absence of access to structures that are already in place. Youth participation necessitates the creation of platforms for young people to voice their opinions as well as the commitment of decision-makers to hear them out and consider them. To ensure that their engagement in the process is meaningful, young people require focused help from youth workers, facilitators, or even their peers.

    contradiction in the legal system

    The majority of commonly used definitions are based on Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. That very convention acknowledges the right of young people to have their opinions taken into consideration when decisions are made that impact their life. Other definitions focus on the decision-making process that young people can participate in and affect. However, encouraging youth engagement should go beyond simply upholding their fundamental right to take part in and influence public decision-making. Young people often do not get a voice in politics. As the notion exists that they are too young or apathetic to participate, despite opportunities, it can quickly become a derogatory exercise. Additionally, it has significant positive effects on community democracy6, which may extend from the young people working on a particular project to the larger society.

    the perspective of young people

    Young people are prevented from participating effectively in the democratic process since they feel they lack the political skills necessary to take part in institutional politics. This leads to the second factor, which concerns the circumstances and resources considered crucial to politicisation. There is reason to assume that with digital media, the generational participation gap may be closed and that young people may get more involved in politics. Despite a sharp increase in young adults’ use of social media and the research showing that social media use encourages offline political participation, the gap in voter turnout  between young adults and older generations has not narrowed.

    Lack of knowledge or access to political resources

    Schools ought to encourage students to engage in social, civic and political discussions in their classrooms, to express their opinions and listen to, or explore various perspectives. In return, students would be able to develop greater political interest, trust, and knowledge, increasing the likelihood of their political participation in the future. Such a curriculum would contribute to improving students’ values and critical thinking in addition to their knowledge and abilities, giving them the freedom to engage in civic and political matters. Moreover, the disconnect shows great numbers regarding understanding the EU:  41% of respondents in a survey believe they either understand nothing or very little about their national governments. Lastly, language and culture are important factors as well. As a result, many with the greatest potential to benefit from participation are excluded, such as migrants, young people, or people with disabilities. It is also difficult to determine the best communication methods and styles to spark their interest.

    Measures ahead

    The Westminster Foundation for Democracy has announced a three-year programme in collaboration with young people in the Middle East and North Africa aimed at addressing youth inclusion in the region and encouraging their political participation. The programme is designed to address this inclusion in policy-making and oversight processes in Algeria, Lebanon and Morocco. 

    To target the given issue of this topic and further develop the plans, these must also be following suggestions that are specific to each Member State, and incorporate them into its response and recovery strategy. Therefore, these recommendations frequently include promises to young people and future generations that are governed by the EU Youth Guarantee. Moreover, a study of the policies adopted across 34 OECD nations accompanies those proposals for Member States in order to ensure a just, inclusive, and resilient recovery for young people through a variety of public governance approaches. Young people are being given a voice on issues related to sustainable development through the Future Mentors Programme. More than twenty European cities participate in the program, where young people take the role of mentors, leaders, and decision-makers. These aspiring mentors of the programme have the opportunity to attend the programme together with the delegation from their city as it also establishes a link between youth and local leaders. According to one of the participants, the programme aims to further empower and inspire other young people across Europe.

    Useful links


  • CULT


    sponsored by TaalUnie

    Committee on Culture and Education

    Chaired by Bianca Zancan (IT)

    Topic Pitch

    In 2015, more than a million people tried to seek refuge in the EU because of violent conflicts occurring in their home countries. The number of people asking for protection from the EU and its Member States is increasing again after the pandemic and in the first half of 2022 alone, 405.500 asylum applications were lodged in the EU. Refugees often arrive in Europe after long and difficult travels, and they commonly lack one of the most basic means of integration in their country of destination: its language. This imposes plenty of challenges on them, as they often struggle to communicate with other citizens; and on the EU too: providing adequate education to newcomers is a most urgent one. It is therefore fundamental for EU Member States to promote a pragmatic and sustainable solution to the problem of linguistic education of refugees, and to provide them with the necessary tools to live a well-integrated life in their host country.

    Key Learnings

    The Present

    Case Study


    Even if Makida has found the happy ending she deserves, her story outlines some of the most worrying features of European integration programs. Looking at her case, we notice that the cultural conflict between her country of origin and her host country posed great emotional distress, making it hard for her to have conversations with other citizens, thus inevitably making her feel out of place. A partial solution to the problem was found in learning English, which Makida tried to do for several years through the national resources offered to her. Yet, these were insufficient: it was only when she started taking private lessons that she managed to finally learn English at an adequate level. This sparks the question: what role does economic stability play in the integration of refugees? And how can European Member States bridge the gap between what relatively richer immigrants can afford in terms of education and language learning, and what relatively poorer immigrants have access to?2



    the 1951 Refugee Convention defines a refugee as “someone who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership or a particular social group, or political opinion”. In the present text, refugees have reached their host country and have started an integration process in it.

    Minor refugees

    the issue at stake is particularly urgent for children, since some age categories fall out of the scope of national legislation on mandatory schooling of Member States, thus making it difficult for them to get an education. Even when this is not the case, economic and structural resources of public education in several European countries often fail to address the needs of new students, who commonly suffer from psychological issues and, most notably, from the language barrier.

    Native citizens

    native citizens of host countries are affected (or believe they will be affected) by the influx of immigrants reaching the EU. Indeed, in all EU Member States, numerous citizens deem immigrants as a threat in terms of social, cultural, and economic stabilit

    European commission

    holding the executive power of the EU, it aims at managing cooperation at the EU’s external borders through Frontex (the European Border and Coastline Agency) and at implementing the Common European Asylum System (CEAS).

    Council of Europe

    founded in 1949, the Council of Europe is one of the continent’s leading human rights organisations. It has developed the Linguistic Integration of Adult Migrants (LIAM) project, born in 2006, thereby providing policy guidelines and pedological resources for its 46 member states.

    United Nations Refugee agency

    The UNHCR was founded in 1950 to safeguard the safety and well-being of people fleeing their native country. Both actively advocate for human rights and their respect, the latter paying particular attention to refugee rights.

    Legal Framework/Measures already in place

    As stated in the European Convention on the Legal status of Migrant Workers, migrant workers and members of their families are entitled “to general education and vocation training and retraining”, and to promote access to general and vocational training centres, “the receiving State shall facilitate the teaching of its language”. 

    The Council of Europe has been concerned with migrant language learning since 1968. One of its most ambitious projects on the topic, the Linguistic Integration of Adult Migrants (LIAM) project, was launched in 2006. It develops policy guidelines and pedagogical resources to help Member States provide satisfactory educational opportunities to adult migrants. The Council has also worked on the linguistic integration of migrant children: several conventions, recommendations, and resolutions have been promoted to try and outline effective measures to help children in obtaining sufficient linguistic knowledge.

    Another important contribution to the issue of refugee integration into the EU has been provided by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles. Its policy paper tackles the issue of linguistic integration stating that “special education or language programmes for refugees” should be granted to them as soon as they receive the permit to stay in their host country. Further, it suggests that financial support should be available for general educational purposes and that all refugees “should be entitled to a minimum number of hours of free language tuition”.

    The Language Union (Taalunie) is an intergovernmental, Flemish-Dutch, organization that develops and promotes policy concerning the Dutch language. The Language Union has no direct influence on national integration policies, but it does have an important advising and uniting function. For example, in 2019 the Language Union published an advisory text at the request of the Flemish and Dutch ministers containing nine recommendations to improve the teaching of Dutch to non-native newcomers. In addition, the Language Union also supports various initiatives around Dutch language acquisition for newcomers and regularly conducts research into the demands and challenges that exist in the Netherlands and Flanders in this area.  

    The Future

    Conflicts/Key Challenges

    The first challenge the EU will likely need to face in trying to promote adequate linguistic  education among refugees is the often-lacking availability of schools, classrooms and teachers in host communities. Of course, teaching any subject to children who struggle to understand the very words used to explain it is not an easy task, and teachers need in-depth, specific education to do so. This creates a significant cost for host countries.3

    This challenge worsens when considering the direct and indirect costs of schooling: in countries where education is public, the costs of materials, books, and uniforms can be very high, sometimes making it an unsustainable expense for immigrants. Evidently, accessibility is a challenge that Member States will need to address in trying to improve educational possibilities for refugees.

    The second challenge is of a political kind: in recent years, numerous populist political parties have won elections all over the EU. Among them, most are right-wing parties with strong stances against the arrival of immigrants, who are exploited as a catalyst of fear and anger.  This is likely to increase the anti-immigration sentiment that has spread over the EU after the 2015 immigration crisis, during which virtually none of the Member States was equipped with the right tools to face the people arriving at their shores. Furthermore, anti-immigration sentiments negatively influence the educational attainment of children of refugees. The USA is an example of this: Southern-American children in schools are subjected to chants such as “Build the wall!”, as well as deportation taunts and jokes, coming from peers roughly their age. Of course, this cannot but disrupt a child’s learning process, while simultaneously putting him or her under tremendous pressure and anxiety. Therefore, to safeguard children’s (and adults’) linguistic education, the EU will need to try and mitigate the negative effects of the spreading anti-immigration sentiment.

    Measures Ahead

    In terms of what the future will bring, a good departing point consists in acknowledging how difficult and multifaceted the process towards linguistic integration has been and will be. Further, it must be considered that, while it is important to promote a united, coordinated, and sustainable European plan to tackle the issue at hand, different Member States will likely carry on different policies that will best be suited for them and their citizens, both native and immigrant. Finally, it must be noted that linguistic integration is not a symmetric process: while hearing new languages may trigger sentiments of fear and anxiety in citizens of host countries, who may perceive their culture under threat, immigrants face different, more pragmatic challenges due to the language barrier.

    As suggested by the Council of Europe, some possible directions that European policies could take to improve refugees’ ability to receive adequate education include the implementation of language programmes that answer directly to each one’s linguistic and educational needs, both in terms of basic attainments (mostly for children, to help support their entrance into school) and tailor-made, high-quality courses (mostly for adults, targeting their skills and how they can be spent on the job market); ensure that formal tests conform to nationally accepted standards, thereby ensuring that refugees are not kept from entering the labour force; devise effective incentives while not punishing those who do not meet previously set standards. Last, but definitely not least, the EU must envision a programme of linguistic integration that takes into account the value of a refugee’s own language: diversity, after all, is one of the EU’s main sources of pride!

    Useful links


  • DROI


    Committe on Human Rights

    Chaired by Benjamin Stephenson (NL)

    Topic Pitch

    As Ursula von der Leyen once stated “Being yourself is not your ideology. It’s your identity”. Transgender1 and gender2 non-conforming people are facing an increase of violence directed at them, all over Europe. As prejudiced transphobic hate speech3 sadly becomes more and more common, violence has also seen a correlated increase.  Moreover, the EU has a long history of defending human rights at the transnational level, and this is most certainly not a time to stop.  There is no justification to defile someone based on any part of their identity, or their existence as a whole. Transgender people in the EU have a right to live, like any other person does, without fear of violence, or their fundamental rights and freedoms being taken away due to someone’s caprice; and if the Member States will not guarantee it, then who will?

    Key learnings

    • Trans people face unproportionally high violence;
    • Transphobia is becoming more common;
    • Trans people are statistically more likely to be put in a vulnerable situation prone to violence;
    • Transphobic violence is caused by transphobia and by extension cisnormativity;
    • Trans people underreport violence against their community.

    The Present


    The case of Malte C. displays how the violence does not appear out of nowhere – the assailant was spousing anti-queer rhetoric before he got violent. If his initial anti-queer rhetoric was curbed then Malte C. would still be around today. For transgender people to be liberated from facing this kind of violence, we must figure out how to holistically tackle transphobia. In order to properly tackle transphobia, the roots in anti-queerness and cisnormativity6 must be addressed. 

    Transgender people are over four times more likely to be the victims of violent crime. This phenomenon cannot be viewed in a vacuum; The high rate of violence that transgender people face is not pure luck, it is the byproduct of transphobia and cisnormativity. Transphobia materialises itself as anything from microaggressions7 to violent hate crimes. The increased rates of violence cannot be approached unless the underlying transphobia and cisnormativity is addressed. Simultaneously, transgender people have a higher chance of being coerced into more vulnerable situations like poverty, homelessness, unemployment or sex work, which makes them more apt to be the victim of violence. The issue of violence against transgender people is intertwined with all of the discrimination that trans people face, making the addressing of the issue all the more difficult.

    Stakeholders/Key Actors

    Transgender Europe (TGEU)

    Transgender Europe is a non-governmental organisation with a focus on protecting the rights of trans people. It was founded in 2005 during the first European Transgender Council. TGEU runs a “Trans Murder Monitoring” project to record how many people a year are killed in anti-trans violence. TGEU aims to make a Europe where gender diversity is celebrated, and where trans people are valued.

    European Transgender Council

    The European Transgender Council exists alongside TGEU. It is the biggest event for trans activists in Europe with over 200 participants. It functions as a forum to discuss the agenda for trans politics but simultaneously to celebrate the trans community.


    International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association of Europe is an independent, international, non-governmental umbrella organisation with around 600 subsidiaries. They receive most of their funding from the EU and they redirect most of their funding to their subsidiaries. ILGA-Europe has a focus on LGBTI people, not necessarily only trans people.

    Trans United Europe

    Trans United Europe (also known as Trans European BPOC8 network) is a Trans non-governmental organisation with a focus on BPOC individuals, and mainly sexwork. They believe that the social and economic status of Trans BPOC people makes them especially vulnerable9.

    Police and Criminal Justice Agencies

    The Police and Criminal Justice Agencies are crucial in stopping violent crime against trans people. Transgender communities tend to lack trust in the police and underreport transphobic hate crimes. To stop transphobic crime, police and criminal justice agencies need to work on building a better relationship with the trans community. 

    Legal Framework/Measures already in place

    Transgender people should be just as protected by the law as cis people. Moreover, as people living in the EU, they should be protected by the European Convention on Human Rights. Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights has been affirmed by the European Court of Human Rights to protect trans people from unjustified discrimination. The Council of Europe called for Member States to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on gender identity, which, unfortunately, is not something all Member States have done

    Across the EU, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has also been a major player, but not flawlessly. Cases such as P v S and Cornwall County Council have been massive jumps for trans rights and created a baseline for the  treatment of trans people. Unfortunately, the CJEU has not been very all encompassing. The CJEU has failed to include non-binary individuals  entirely and only view trans people through a medicalised lens, where equal protection is only required post gender reassignment surgery.  This excludes all trans people who cannot, or do not want gender affirmation surgery/therapy. For trans people to be better protected by the law, it is required that they have the recognition they deserve.

    Finally, when viewing individual Member States, every Member State should, in theory, protect trans people under their own non-discrimination frameworks. However, many Member States have reported no judgements or opinions relating to the unequal treatment of transgender people, indirectly making  themselves complicit in the discrimination of transgender people. There’s, domestically, an absence of case law regarding transgender people also causing the prosecution of transphobic violence to be exacerbating. There are, however, some Member States who are much more progressive, and who have institutions such as self-determination, allowing adults to decide their own gender without medical or civil requirements. The most prominent NGO measure in place is TGEU’s Trans Murder Monitior. The resource not only displays the number of trans people murdered in each member state but it also provides up-to-date relevant information on the state of trans rights respectively.

    The Future

    Conflicts/Key Challenges

    At their core, the source of all the problems stem from transphobia. Our societies were built on cisnormativity which is the source of transphobia. Deductively so, if one wishes to tackle transphobic violence then both transphobia and cisnormativity, as a whole, must be considered, and reevaluated. Although it is not possible to rebuild society from the bottom-up without transphobia, there is definitely progress which can be made in curbing the prevalence of existing transphobia and cisnormativity. Unfortunately, since transphobia and cisnormativity are cultural, tackling them becomes much more complicated and could take generations before any significant progress is made.

    Another key challenge, which is linked to the former challenge, is the vulnerable position that a lot of transgender people are put in that makes them prone to experiencing violence such as poverty, homelessness or sexwork. To liberate transgender people from the violence would require that the resources they need are provided for them. As long as they are continually coerced into vulnerable situations, they will be significantly more at risk of violence than the general population.

    One more conflict that intertwines with the prior two challenges is the difficulties reporting to the police. The police, specifically police officers, are not viewed as being the most progressive when it comes to transgender rights. Unless there is trust built between the trans community and the police, transphobic crime will continue being underreported. There is a significant unresponsiveness or hostility from the behalf of the legal authorities when contacted by queer people so, consequentially, many trans people are averse to the police and would prefer to not report. The police must become more cognisant that transgender people are vulnerable, so that they do not overlook transphobic crime and so trans people do not underreport transphobic crime.

    Measures Ahead

    Moving forward there is a lot of work that needs to be done surrounding tackling violence against transgender people. As a general point, Member States should work to create hate crime legislation, based on gender identity on par with ethnic hate crimes. Transphobia needs to be more explicitly deplored by the Member States. 

    This requires that transgendered people have the basic human rights granting them visibility, and the self determination they need in order to be considered as their preferred identity, and thereby transgender. If transgender people are not recognised as such then transphobic crime will not be properly dealt with

    Combined with that, there needs to be a focus on assisting the most vulnerable people in the transgender community, including not only trans youth and BPOC but also trans sexworkers and homeless people. There needs to be resources available to these individuals, to protect them, and to remove them from situations which could lead to violence. The plight of trans people has gone on far too long and on its current trajectory, it does not appear to be headed in a good direction. However, the trans struggle is not already lost. There is a foreseeable future where trans people become accepted by society, if the EU can manage to liberate them from their oppression.

    Useful Links


  • EMPL


    Committee on Employment and Social Affairs

    Chaired by Paul Gerring (DE)

    Topic Pitch

    The population structure of a geographical area can be represented in detail by the demographic change model. This makes it possible to see how the population is currently composed and how it will develop in the coming decades. In most industrialised countries, especially in the European Union, the phenomenon of inverted age pyramids can be observed. This means that the population is becoming increasingly older, and it is shrinking overall. This puts increasing pressure on the economies and social systems of the Member States. On one hand, fewer younger people are able to provide pensions for more older people. In this context, the European Commission is already seeking a rethink in the areas of health care, welfare, public budgets and public life. In addition, issues such as access to services, community care and even loneliness need to be addressed.

    Key Learnings

    1. The European population will grow at a slower rate and, by 2060, one in three Europeans will be aged over 65.
    2. The old-age dependency ratio depicts the number of people at an age when they are economically inactive compared to the number of people of working age. For example, in Italy, 67% of the people will be economically inactive while only 33% will be working in 2075.
    3. Currently, in many Member States there is bad compatibility between family and career and young parents often have to choose between one of them. This leads to an overall decline in the birth rate.
    4. The silver economy, which describes the development of the economy for the share of people aged over 65, is also an opportunity for Europe to create new industries with great economic potential.
    5. Healthy ageing1 can contribute to keeping older people in the economy for longer, and also enable them to participate more fully in society.

    The Present


    The topic is based on the question: “What measures can Member States take to accommodate the economy and societal structures of the old-age population?” In the current situation, there are many challenges that play into the difficulty of the ageing population. Not only in the Netherlands, but among most European countries. On one hand, there is a poor compatibility of work and family life, and a certain unattractiveness of having children at all. Furthermore, the pension and social security systems are facing great challenges due to the increase in claims and the decrease in funding. In addition, people, young as well as old, can become victims of age discrimination in the workplace. As of 2021, the share of people aged 65 and over was 20.8% in the European Union, and the EU and its Member States are trying to find solutions such as raising the retirement age, just like the example of the Netherlands, encouraging immigration or adapting social systems.



    Demographic change can also impact Europe’s position in the world. Especially because, due to the increase in the older age group, the population share and the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will become comparatively smaller. Therefore, the European Commission has a special interest in Europe being united on every level, from the individuals to its Member States. It focuses on sustaining the economy by getting more people into jobs and increasing the productivity of the workforce. Furthermore, health and care systems have to adapt further, and the European Commission considers how to fund higher age-related public spending.

    Member States

    generally aim for economic growth and stability. The main objectives of national demographic policies are to maintain and develop prosperity, to maintain and, at the same time, to promote social unity, and to guarantee the financial capability of the respective state and social systems to act in the long term. To achieve this, measures such as adjusting the retirement age will not be sufficient in the long term. Instead, far-reaching structural and social reforms will be necessary for some Member States.

    The World health Organisation (WHO)

    supports the development of social and physical environments and promotes healthy ageing. The Demographic Change and Healthy Ageing Unit (DHA) provides leadership on these issues, develops norms and standards, builds national capacity to address these issues and promotes global advocacy.

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

    is an international organisation that aims to shape policies that foster prosperity, equality, opportunity and well-being for all. In context, it supports governments and organisations in implementing employment and skills development programmes. Furthermore, the OECD aims to outline development scenarios in the context of demographic change to facilitate the adoption of appropriate guidelines.

    Measures already in place

    Retirement Age2

    The common retirement age3 in the EU is 65, but there are differences between Member States. For example, people in France retire at 62, whereas in Italy at 67. A state can use the retirement age as a tool to have a slight impact on the number of working people in the labour market. In most Member States, an increase in the retirement age is projected due to the ageing population, and in some places, retirement ages of 70+ are already being debated. The problem with raising the retirement age is above all that there are professions in which people often cannot work until old age due to both physical and mental exhaustion.

    The Skilled Immigration Act

    In 2020, the German government passed “The skilled Immigration Act”. This is intended to make it easier for skilled workers from non-EU countries to migrate to Germany and contribute to the national workforce. Skilled workers are those who have completed vocational training in Germany or abroad that is roughly equivalent to German training. This will make it easier for immigrants to enter the German labour market and social systems.

    The Future

    Key Challenges

    Inversed age pyramid

    After the Second World War, the European population rose steadily until the 1970s. But due to the empowerment of women, a flourishing economy, an increase in the quality of education, and easier access to reliable contraceptives, the fertility rate has been falling since the seventies. Thus, there will soon be an inverted age pyramid, with fewer young people and more older people. In the long term, this will create a deficit of workers and specialists in European countries.

    Population Projections in the EU

    Good education in Europe does indeed increase the proportion of people with university degrees and qualified specialists in the labour market. However, it also increases people’s desire to take advantage of the career opportunities it offers. European citizens are therefore increasingly opting for the big career path rather than starting a family and raising children. This means that there is a lack of compatibility between work and family life.

    Family or Career. Why not both?4

    In the 21st century, young people often have to face the decision between family or career. Because having a child and motherhood inevitably mean a period of absence, short or long-term, from the labour market. If this period of absence is too protracted, the return to work is even more difficult. The fact that people have to face this decision leads to an overall decline in the birth rate in industrialised countries.

    Parental leave and paternity leave allow many families to take time off to care for and raise their children. Thereafter, they are guaranteed a return to their old position or a similar one. On the other hand, this time away from work is unpaid. This means that many people cannot afford not to work for three to four months to spend time with their families.Another challenge in child raising is the lack of kindergarten places in European countries. According to the Bertelsmann Foundation, there is a shortage of 384,000 kindergarten places in Germany alone for the year 2023. Since the demand for care cannot be met here, the burden falls back on parents alone.

    Deficits of current social systems among European countries[EFN_NOTE]What measures do you think are most crucial for adjusting the social and pension systems?[/EFN_NOTE]

    Most pension systems in the EU are pay-as-you-go. This means that the working part of the population pays into the pension insurance and retired people can draw their pensions accordingly. However, as there are increasingly fewer payers and increasingly more recipients of benefits in the future, this system is at risk of collapse, with older people under threat of drifting into poverty. While, for instance, in 2013 in Germany, about three people of working age financed one pensioner, in 2030 there will already only be 2.5 payers per recipient5.

    In this context, the ratio that depicts the number of people at an age when they are generally inactive in the labour market compared to the number of people of working age is called the old-age dependency ratio. The OECD predicts for Italy that in 2075 67% of people will be economically inactive while only 33% will be working.Moreover, older people are more likely to suffer from physical and chronic diseases, which increases the demand for healthcare. These chronic diseases include hearing loss, cataracts and refractive errors, back and neck pain and osteoarthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, depression and dementia. Under the influence of the ageing population, the current public health systems must be able to address the experiences and needs of older people, according to the WHO.

    Moreover, older people are more likely to suffer from physical and chronic diseases, which increases the demand for healthcare. These chronic diseases include hearing loss, cataracts and refractive errors, back and neck pain and osteoarthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, depression and dementia. Under the influence of the ageing population, the current public health systems must be able to address the experiences and needs of older people, according to the WHO.

    Age discrimination6

    In the G20 countries, employers’ negative attitudes towards older workers often become an obstacle to a long working life. This form of discrimination limits the pool of experience and talent. Discrimination has a retarding effect and negatively impacts economic growth and the well-being of younger and older workers alike. This can lead to older people already limiting their job search and not considering all options or even giving up completely. On the other hand, younger people may be accused of inexperience or unreliability as an obstacle to recruitment or promotion, regardless of their actual talent.

    Measures Ahead

    Pension funds

    One conceivable measure in the future would be pension funds, meaning investing in shares. This can be done at the level of private households, but also at the state level. The European Central Bank is already collecting statistical data on the balance sheets of pension funds to be able to better analyse the impact on the wealth of private households. 

    Encouragement to retain and hire older people

    To tackle age discrimination and possible stereotypes against older employees on the part of employers, it is important to encourage them to recruit and retain older workers. This requires taking measures against age discrimination and finding ways to facilitate recruitment by reducing labour costs. In addition, employment protection for workers can be revised, and age management practices promoted to improve the productivity of older employees.

    individual learning accounts

    The European Council recommends that Member States establish individual learning accounts. These are intended to help people participate in labour market-relevant training to enable them to access or remain in employment. These learning accounts should provide people with a budget to improve their skills and employability throughout their lives. Regardless of whether they are employed or not. The EU’s target is that 60% of all adults participate in training annually by 2030.

    Future Stop: Silver Economy7

    The Silver Economy refers to the economic share of people aged 65 and older. According to the European Commission, by 2060, one in three Europeans will be over 65. By 2025, the Silver Economy is expected to contribute €5.7 trillion to the European economy.

    The Silver Economy will redefine the rules for existing market operators in Europe. At the intersection of demographic and technological change, new industries will emerge that are expected to create huge export potential. According to the Commission, cross-policy measures are needed to facilitate the growth of the Silver Economy and to accelerate the benefits for older people. Active and healthy ageing can ensure that people not only remain more active and better integrated into society. They can also continue to work and learn new things for several more years.A study commissioned by the European Commission proposes five recommendations, each of which has the potential to boost the European silver economy, both consumption and economic output. These recommendations include the technological and digital development of the healthcare sector, supporting healthy ageing, solutions for better mobility of older people, increasing the active participation of older people in the labour market and increasing the innovation of products and services targeted towards independent living.

    Useful Links


  • IMCO


    Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection

    Chaired by Mihaela Chiujdea (FI)

    Topic Pitch

    Online disinformation, created either for commercial or political gain, is disseminated through social media and fueled by an anti-establishment trend in European politics that creates a demand for alternative narratives. Its threat to democracy stems from its ability to sway public opinion through deception. It makes use of fear, insecurity, societal divisions, and ideological polarisation, and regardless of the empirical facts behind the story, it gives its readers the satisfaction of reading something that confirms their worldview. Bearing in mind that attempts to combat the spread of disinformation risk exacerbating the anti-establishment feeling that fuels disinformation in the first place, what could be done to improve them and protect democracy?

    The Present


    These tendencies, along with a continually rising voting abstention rate, demonstrate a systemic rejection of political elites and the ‘system’ among a significant segment of the French public. This trend creates an opportunity for the fringes and extremes, particularly the far right, which has attempted to transform these “anything but Macron” responses into votes for Marine Le Pen, leveraging these resentments to appeal to a larger audience. This also demonstrates how some far-right and sovereignist right-wing actors have made disinformation concerning COVID-19 as well as conspiracy theories significant aspects of their political discourses, aiding in the spread of this material into more public spaces.

    Stakeholders/Key Actors

    The European Digital Media Observatory

    EDMO brings together fact-checkers, media literacy professionals, and academic scholars to better comprehend and analyse disinformation, in conjunction with media organisations, internet platforms, and media literacy practitioners. EDMO has set up a platform to aid the work of a diverse community with experience in the field of online deception and will contribute to a better knowledge of disinformation’s important actors, tools, tactics, dissemination dynamics, targets, and societal impact.

    European External Action Service

    EEAS has greatly increased its capacity to confront the disinformation crisis since 2015, when the issue first surfaced on the political agenda of the EU. It has been creating and enhancing the mechanisms against disinformation, all while developing more accurate knowledge and diagnoses of the issue. It has collaborated closely with other EU institutions, Member States, international organisations including the G7 and NATO, media outlets, journalists, and private sector companies.

    The Directorate General of Democracy and Human Dignity

    DGII supports the Council of Europe in areas that are crucial for the sustainability of democracy. These areas include ensuring that human dignity is respected without discrimination following human rights standards and improving democratic processes in Europe’s societies.

    EU DisinfoLab

    EUDL is a young, independent NGO that specialises in investigating and combating sophisticated disinformation tactics that are directed at the EU, its fundamental institutions, and its core principles. The EUDL aims to strengthen the information ecosystem by exposing disinformation operations, bringing attention to disinformation-related issues, and gathering and supporting civil society’s resilience to disinformation.

    The Reboot Foundation is a Parisian non-profit organisation that provides a variety of materials to promote media literacy. Its website includes a Parents’ Guide to Critical Thinking as well as a Teachers’ Guide to Critical Thinking, used for teaching children media literacy at home and in school.

    Legal Framework/Measures already in place

    EUvsDisinfo is a flagship project formed in 2015 to better foresee, address, and respond to the Russian Federation’s continuous disinformation activities affecting the European Union, its Member States, and nations in the shared neighbourhood. Its primary goal is to raise public awareness and comprehension of the Kremlin’s disinformation activities, as well as to assist citizens in Europe and beyond in developing resistance against digital information and media manipulation.

    For the first time, the 2018 Code of Practice on Disinformation gathered together global industry players to commit to countering disinformation. The Code, which is at the heart of the EU’s strategy against disinformation, has shown to be a successful instrument for limiting the spread of internet disinformation, notably during election seasons, and for responding promptly to crises such as the coronavirus outbreak and the war in Ukraine. After its revision, the 2022 Code of Practice intends to become a mitigating measure and a Code of Conduct recognised by the Digital Services Act‘s co-regulatory framework.

    A website called Learning Zone Against Disinformation was created to provide teachers in the Member States with a library of presentations outlining what disinformation is and how to handle it to instruct pupils. The toolkit consists of a teacher training manual and an editable presentation with real-world examples and group activities.

    A government plan in Spain to combat disinformation has drawn criticism from the media and the opposition, who claim it restricts free speech and aims to create a “ministry of truth.” The National Security Council approved the strategy, which went into force in October 2020, and specifies how the foreign and defence ministries, as well as the intelligence agency CNI, should respond to disinformation. The strategy specifies four action steps, beginning with monitoring the internet to find disinformation efforts and concluding with a potential “political response” from the government if it is judged required.

    The Future

    Conflicts/Key Challenges

    Challenging democracy1

    Disinformation is appealing to illiberal politicians because it provides an easy way for extremist rhetoric to compete with and eventually stifle informed, rational discourse. As news agencies compete for readers in a media climate where revenue is heavily dependent on the number of interactions a story may produce, there is a desire for headlines that are ever more dramatic or spectacular. By creating doubt and ambiguity to such a degree that citizens become overwhelmed and unable to determine what is actually true, it can also cause political apathy – when separating fact from fiction demands too much effort or knowledge, a typical response is to completely avoid politics. Citizens who experience this kind of disillusionment may even start to doubt democracy itself. Therefore, one of the foundational pillars of democracy is challenged by the abundance of inaccurate information online.

    Echo Chambers2

    The “echo chamber” effect might drastically limit the kinds of news people who primarily rely on social media for their news intake. Users are only provided with a small range of views on most social media platforms since they are shown content that is similar to what they have already liked. There are now many different individualised information spheres where there was once a single public place controlled by rival media. The clickbaiting strategies frequently conflate the categories of news and entertainment, blending in with the social media landscape where it is impossible to distinguish between updates from friends, lighthearted content, and important news. The only thing that matters is that every piece of material, whether it be a hilarious video, serious news story, or a friend’s holiday photos, elicits an emotional response. Outrage, terror, or jealousy are typically easier to arouse than more positive feelings, making them the most effective kind of “fake news” for a particular audience.

    Intended public’s opinion shift3

    Foreign actors with malicious intent to plant and spread false information, manipulate online content, and discredit the debate with “alternative facts” could make use of an organised army of “paid trolls” – each controlling multiple online profiles – in order to confuse and confirm the public’s sense of doubt or influence the target audience on a particular issue. Today, for instance, Russia employs deceptive influence operations to further its geopolitical goals. These operations involve security services, TV stations, private and public corporations, think tanks, social and religious organisations, but mostly social media and internet trolls. Political, religious, and cultural organisations are employed as tools to undermine societal cohesion and infiltrate decision-making bodies, while disinformation operations are organised to attack public officials, independent media, and democratic institutions. The fact that Russia Today continues to draw viewers – 43 million in 15 different European nations – shows that there remains an undercurrent of unhappiness with conventional news that can be relied on.

    Measures Ahead

    The European Media Freedom Act proposed new measures to defend the EU’s media pluralism and independence. They will ensure that media, both public and private, can operate more effectively across borders in the EU internal market, without excessive pressure, while also taking into consideration the media’s digital development. 

    The Digital Services Act (DSA) considerably enhances the systems for removing illegal content and for effectively defending users’ fundamental online rights, including the right to free speech. Additionally, it strengthens government regulation of online platforms, especially those that reach more than 10% of EU citizens. By 17 February 2024, when the DSA is generally set to go into effect, EU Member States must designate their Digital Services Coordinators. Each Members State’s new DSC will serve as a crucial regulatory hub, ensuring coherence and digital competence.

    Dutch to step up response to external threats: The Dutch government claims that collaboration with other countries increases opportunities as well as threats. The administration also stated that although additional steps are required to address China’s unwelcome influence, other nations must not be overlooked. There are four strategies to respond to dangers suggested by the reinforced approach: taking proactive measures when Dutch public interests are threatened, fostering and defending economic and information security, thwarting unauthorized foreign involvement, and defending democratic institutions.

    Mapping Digital Rights Violations and Fighting Disinformation in Central Europe is an ambitious two-year programme led by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network that aims to combat disinformation and propaganda by developing a unique regional Digital Monitoring database. The project’s goal is to increase the general community and government understanding of existing internet threats in the region, as well as to start essential policy reforms.

    Tech Corner:  Echo chambers only provide one viewpoint on a topic, and that opinion is bolstered by rumours or inadequate information, while facts opposing it are suppressed. Wherever someone goes online, algorithms track what they prefer to click on. These algorithms will continue to show them content based on what they believe they’ll like until they’re only giving them content they’ll likely consume.  A fake news story is prompting readers to post it on social media platforms without examination. Sharing the article exposes it to other people who may be offended by it and, in turn, share it without hesitation, and so on. This cycle will continue until a significant percentage of individuals believe this fabricated story is true.

    Useful Links

    a video from the European Commission, in which Roberto Viola, Director-General of DG CONNECT, and Lutz Güllner, Head of EEAS Strategic Communications, talk about a comprehensive kit for dealing with fraudulent online posts.

    More Turbulence Ahead for Twitter as the EU’s Digital Services Act Tests Musk’s Vision – an article from Just Security underlining the issues Twitter and its owner, Elon Musk, could face in the EU during the applicability of the DSA.

    a video from the European Parliamentary Research Service where Naja Bentzen, an EPRS policy analyst, explains the issues related to disinformation and democracy in three key questions
    a short video by Ted-Ed presenting the phenomena of circular reporting and how it aids in the dissemination of incorrect information.
    a video by Channel 4 News presenting the crisis in democracy because of external threats, fake news, and manipulated data.

    Guiding questions

  • ITRE


    Committee on Industry, Research and Energy

    Chaired by Teodor-Cristian Borcan (RO)

    Topic Pitch

    Even though nanomedicine seems to be the next step in the advancement of medicine, being able to aid in the early-stage diagnosis, targeted treatment and even targeted release of medication, it is slowed down by a set of different challenges. Because of the field’s novelty, the data surrounding nanoparticles is still relatively scarce, preventing researchers from accurately predicting the properties of compounds under particular circumstances. Moreover, the legislation surrounding nanomedicine is still vague and somewhat lacking. This is because of nanoparticles’ complexity and the wide array of forms they can take. All in all, the great potential of nanomedicine seems to remain partly untapped because of over-cautious approaches and lacking data, despite efforts being made to alleviate this situation and further deepen research and our current understanding of the field.

    Key learnings

    • Progress in nanomedicine is slowed down by vague legislation.
    • Market authorisations differ between Member States, creating discrepancies in the criteria and standards that need to be met.
    • There is still not enough data for assumptions to be accurately made regarding the behaviour of some nanomedicines in vivo.
    • Nanomedicine shows great promise in improving patient care standards, paving the way towards personalised medicine.
    • Nanomedical approaches might provide cures or therapeutical alternatives for previously incurable diseases and syndromes.

    The Present


    This example shows how critical guidance is in the field of nanomedicine because its lack leaves manufacturers, the general public, and policymakers with little to no clarity and legal certainty. Despite showing great promise in terms of progress and improving standards for patient care and early-stage diagnosis, nanomedicine still seems to be hindered by vague and not-fit-for-purpose legislation. Furthermore, because it is such a novel field of study, the data regarding nanomaterials and nanomedicines is also scarce. This slows down the translation from labs and clinical trials to actual market commercialisation. 

    Stakeholders/Key Actors

    European Commission

    The EC is the executive branch of the EU. The Commission helps to shape the EU’s overall strategy, proposes new EU laws and policies, monitors their implementation and manages the EU budget. More precisely, the European Commission is responsible for the main pieces of legislation regarding research and some aspects of public health, areas which this topic falls under, while still maintaining a close collaboration with Member States, since the competences in these areas are shared.

    Member States

    As previously mentioned, research and some aspects of public health fall under the category of shared competences. This means that Member States also play a major role in legislation. Furthermore, because the approval of certain products can be given through a decentralised procedure, Member States are responsible for the assessment of the submitted applications. It is thus implied that the assessment of the product’s performance and all other parameters specified in the existing binding legislation must be done independently by Member States.

    European Medicines Agency

    EMA is an agency that evaluates and monitors medicines in the EU. It conducts research and uses the results to provide reliable information accessible to everyone. In the case of nanomedicine, EMA is responsible for the evaluation of marketing authorisation applications. The results of its experiments provide the base for the centralised authorisation of nanomedicine in the EU market. Moreover, EMA publishes scientific guidelines to help companies prepare their applications for the authorisation procedure.

    Joint Research Centre

    The JRC is the European Commission’s service for science. It works by employing experts to conduct research and experiments whose results are used to back EU policies. Its actions in public health that fit within the scope of this topic include human biomonitoring and research of health technologies. The JRC is one of the data hubs for nanomedicine as the results of its experiments can be used to alleviate the current lack of data.

    Nanotechnology Industries Association

    The NIA supports the development of the nanotechnology sector by uniting companies, as well as research centres, universities, and other support organisations. One of the ways it does this is through the creation of partnership opportunities between its members, allowing for shared progress and efficient collaboration. Furthermore, it provides industry insights to policymakers and regulators to help create a better, more reliable regulatory environment.

    Legal Framework

    Measures regarding all types of medication and medical products

    These pieces of legislation fall behind in that they include nothing specific about nanomedicine. This is because, at the time of their publishing, this field had only begun to emerge. Despite not being precise in the case of nanopharmaceuticals, these measures play a role in their development, since their placement on the market is subject to these terms. 

    Directive 2001/83/EC establishes the standards a medicine must meet for market approval. Article 24 mentions the duration of authorisation, namely 5 years, with the possibility of renewing it for another 5 years. The conditions for which a product is refused authorisation are: if it is proven to be harmful under the recommended conditions, if its efficiency is insufficient or if its composition does not correspond with the declared one.

    Regulation 2004/726/EC adds to the requirements mentioned in the Directive, including that the clinical trials carried out to obtain results for the application should be done respecting the standards of good clinical practice and that they meet ethical demands and that any changes in the manufacturing process and composition of the product have to be included into an application and be approved before they can be implemented. Furthermore, this regulation established the EMA and all of its attributions and committees, ensuring more efficient supervision and coordination of the EU medicine market.

    Measures regarding nanomedicines

    These measures are more specific to nanomedicines because they take into account the notable differences between them and all other types of medicines. These pieces of legislation regulate nanomedicines on risk/benefit-analysis principles.

    The Commission’s recommendation on the definition of nanomaterial 2011 gave a definition for nanomaterials and aimed to help harmonise the legislation and progress that would follow. However, because of the rather vague and broad scope given by this definition, it has proved not to be as effective. Moreover, because it is a recommendation, it is not legally binding, rather coming as a suggestion and aid.

    The Commission’s Regulation (EU) 2018/1881 came as an amendment to the already existing REACH regulation that concerned the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals. This amendment includes so-called nanoforms of chemicals in its scope. In the context of this regulation, nanoforms can be thought of as just nanomaterials. Furthermore, it also details many of the needed parameters of the nanoforms, as well as the quality standards by which they must abide.

    The Future

    Key Challenges

    Lack of a centralised approval procedure

    Currently, there are two ways that can lead to the approval of a new nanomedical product: centralised and decentralised. In the centralised pathway, EMA conducts its own studies, after which the European Commission approves market authorisation. The de-centralised process, however, occurs individually in the Member States. This de-centralised approach leads to an inconsistent evaluation and authorisation of nanomedicines. Furthermore, because nanomedicines are borderline products, meaning they do not easily fit into regulatory pathways1, their classification can be interpreted differently by different Member States, thus increasing the discrepancies in evaluation and approval2

    Lack of a unified definition or classification of nanomedicines/ nanomaterials

    The European Commission currently defines nanomaterials as materials that contain more than 50% particles with sizes ranging from 1 to 100 nm. This definition, however, is part of a recommendation and is thus not legally binding. The lack of a unified definition for nanomedicines/nanomaterials is also one of the factors that hinder their further development3 and proper implementation. Because of their versatile nature, definitions and guidance must be made for different classes of nanomedicines. A lack of consistency across states can hinder market approval and conditions that need to be met by the specific product. Therefore, the specific safety and efficacy standards it must pass to be on the market will differ and some countries will be able to use a nanomedicine that may not have passed regulatory standards in another country.

    Lack of data

    The lack of data regarding nanomaterials has been identified as a key issue in risk assessment by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Due to their novelty4, the negative side effects of nanomedicines might not be fully understood. Nanoparticles can enter the human body and interact with it through an array of processes like inhalation, absorption and metabolisation. In time, they can accumulate and lead to negative side effects. This is a real issue because not much is known about how long nanoparticles stay in a specific location (cell, tissue or organ) before being excreted. Despite the increasing number of in vitro and in vivo experiments being carried out, the data is still lacking to fully assess the risk of using certain nanomedicines. Furthermore, the reliability of the experimental data heavily depends on the conditions under which the nanomedicine was tested. This can distort results in either favourable or unfavourable directions. However, despite this uncertainty and lack of knowledge, nanomedicine has shown great promise for revolutionising the way patient care and treatment are tackled. Nanomedicine approaches have helped researchers gain valuable insights5 into the mechanisms behind Alzheimer’s disease, various types of cancer or infectious diseases such as Ebola and malaria.

    Measures Ahead

    The European Commission has set up an initiative to review the EU pharmaceutical strategy, taking into account the lessons learnt from the recent Covid-19 pandemic. This revision aims to encourage and support further innovation in the field, and nanomedicine is one of the critical areas of interest, while also adapting to new developments in science. The public consultation period of this initiative ended in December 2021 and the Commission adoption is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2022. This may be beneficial for the progress of nanomedicine, considering its major contribution to the development of Covid-19 vaccines as this can put it in the spotlight for global innovation and improvement. Another initiative meant to encourage and support research in the EU is Horizon 2020 which funded projects carrying out cutting-edge research, such as:

    • The REFINE Nanomed project aims to create a consortium to help in the advancement of biomaterials and nanomedicines by gathering representatives from all stakeholder categories. Furthermore, one of its objectives is to improve the standardisation of regulations at a European level.
    • The European Nanomedicine Characterization Laboratory (EU-NCL) is also a project whose aim is to carry out experiments to characterise nanoparticles for medical applications. This is meant to aid companies to improve their nanomedicine products before submitting their application for market authorisation.

    Tech Corner

    But what is nanomedicine and why do we care so much about it?

    Nanomedicine is the medical application of nanotechnology. It paves the way towards personalised medicine, specific for each of us and may even reduce the frequency of certain medical procedures or traditional medication. The prefix nano- refers to a billionth of a meter or a millionth of a millimetre, therefore, nanoparticles have at least one dimension in the range of 1-100 nm. This size gives them unique properties and abilities to interact with our bodies in unprecedented ways. The following image shows a comparative scale of the nanoparticle size.

    Nanoparticles size chart

    In vivo versus in vitro

    Throughout this Topic Overview and during your own research regarding this topic, you might come across the terms in vitro and in vivo. But what do they mean and what do they tell us about the way the experiment was conducted? Firstly, both terms come from Latin and mean “in glass” and “in the living”, respectively. As the names suggest, in vivo experiments aim to replicate the real conditions that the nanomedicine would act in: either within a cell, a tissue, or an organ. However, before the nanomedicine can be tested in the complex environment that is a living organism, its properties and mechanism of action must be thoroughly studied. This is typically done through in vitro testing. In vitro experiments are carried out on isolated cells or tissues. These do not reflect the complexity of the real environment, but rather highlight one or more of its conditions.

    Useful Links

    this podcast highlights the different uses of nanotechnology and presents the cutting-edge research going on in this interdisciplinary field.
    this video shows that despite being a seemingly difficult field to grasp, nanotechnology can be boiled down to the simplest of terms and explained to people with vastly different levels of knowledge.
    this interview from 2013 successfully predicted the booming upcoming progress that nanomedicine would have and the great potential this field had for improving the standard of patient care and treatment.

    Further Questions

  • JURI I

    JURI I

    Committee on Legal Affairs

    Chaired by Marek Jankovský (CZ)

    Topic Pitch

    Far-right political parties are on the rise in many EU Member States, including Poland, Hungary, and countries such as France, Italy, and Sweden. Core ideas expressed by the far-right are chauvinistic and ethnic nobleness of the nationanti-immigrant xenophobia, and anti-establishment populism. The ideas promoted by the far-right are often in contradiction with the underlying values of the EU, contained in Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union (TEU)1. This includes the rule of law principle, which ensures legal certainty2, prevention of abuse / misuse of powers3, equality before the law and non-discrimination4, and access to justice5.

    The EU has mechanisms to tackle breaches of the rule of law, such as the infringement proceedings, the conditionality mechanism, or proceedings under Article 7 of the TEU. However, the existing mechanisms require qualified majority or unanimity6, and tend to last long, reducing the actionability of the EU.

    Key Learnings

    • The EU is based on fundamental values, namely respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities, along with pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity, and equality between women and men;
    • The fundamental EU values are threatened by far-right movements and far-right extremism;
    • Far-right parties promote protectionism and welfare chauvinism7, anti-immigrant discourse based on fear and hatred, traditional family and religious values, and direct participation.
    • Many far-right parties criticize the EU , wish to leave it, or at least strongly reform it.
    • The EU has mechanisms in place when EU values are breached. However, they are not always effective and actionable.
    • Proceedings under Article 7 of the TEU, the strongest mechanism to tackle the violation of EU values by Member States, can easily be blocked, making it unusable in most cases.

    The Present


    The European Union is built on fundamental values, enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union (TEU). These values include respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities, along with pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity, and equality between women and men

    While not well known to the general public, the rule of law in particular represents an underlying principle for the functioning of the EU. Simply put, it means that governments are subject to existing laws as much as its citizens are. More precisely, the Venice Commission has introduced the Rule of Law checklist – a document which defines the 5 fundamental elements of the rule of law. These elements are legal certainty, prevention of abuse / misuse of powers, equality before the law and non-discrimination, and access to justice.

    There are, however, movements and political parties within Member States that do not share the core EU values, including the rule of law principle, and either violate them, or directly call for their abolition. 

    Today, this is especially true for far-right movements and political parties. While far-right parties can be divided into different groups, political scientists agree that the far-right is based around three core ideas, those being chauvinistic and ethnic nobleness of the nationanti-immigrant xenophobia, and anti-establishment populism.

    How Much Sway Does the Far-Right Have?

    The policies proposed by the far-right often concern protectionism and welfare chauvinism in the economic area, an anti-immigrant discourse based on fear and hatred in the social areas, and an emphasis on traditional family and religious values at the cultural level. In politics, far-right parties often promote direct participation and are unwilling to compromise. Many far-right parties also criticize the EU , wish to leave it, or at least strongly reform it.

    Far-right political parties are on the rise in many EU Member States. In the French presidential elections of April 2022, far-right and anti-EU candidate Marie Le Pen gained over 41% of votes. Far-right party Brothers of Italy won the Italian parliamentary elections with almost 26% of the vote, and in the September general election, the far-right party Swedish Democrats with neo-Nazi roots has gained 2nd place with over 20% of the vote.

    Stakeholders/Key Actors

    European Commission (EC) is the executive body of the EU responsible for drawing up proposals of EU legislation, allocating EU funding, and enforcing EU legislation. The EC is in charge of the The Rule of Law Framework, initiates Infringement Proceedings and may initiate proceedings under Article 7 of the TEU. It also proposes measures under the Conditionality mechanism

    Council of the European Union (Council) is the body of the EU composed of government ministers from each Member State. The Council coordinates Member States’ policies, negotiates and adopts EU legislation, and adopts the annual EU budget, together with the EP. The Council takes decisions proceedings under Article 7 of the TEU and may also initiate them. It also approves measures proposed by the EC under the Conditionality mechanism.

    European Parliament (EP) is a directly-elected EU body composed of members from each EU Member State. It negotiates and adopts EU legislation, along with the Council, supervises other EU institutions, and approves the EU’s budget. It may initiate proceedings under Article 7 of the TEU.

    The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) is the judicial body of the EU, which interprets, enforces, and annuls EU’s legal acts. It decides on infringement proceedings against Member States brought before it by the European Commission or another Member State.

    European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) is an EU body promoting fundamental rights in the EU through collecting & analysing information on fundamental rights’ development, advising EU institutions and governments on fundamental rights, and raising awareness of rights. It takes part in the The Rule of Law Framework.

    Legal Framework

    The Rule of Law Framework of the EC is a three-stage process in which the EC assesses the risk to the Rule of law in Member States, provides recommendations to prevent or eliminate such risks, and monitors how the Member State reacts to the EC’s recommendation. If the Member State fails to take the necessary steps, the EC may initiate proceedings under Article 7 of the TEU.

    Proceedings under Article 7(1) of the TEU, also referred to as the preventive mechanism, allow the Council to hear the Member State in question and determine that there is a clear risk of a serious breach of EU values as defined in Article 2 of the TEU. During the proceedings, the Council may make recommendation to the Member State on how to prevent the risk of the breach.

    Proceedings under Article 7(2) of the TEU come into place if proceedings under Article 7(1) do not resolve the risk to EU values. In such case, the Council, after hearing the Member State in question, may unanimously determine the existence of a serious and persistent breach of EU values under Article 2 of the TEU.  A serious and persistent breach of EU values needs to be approved by all members of the Council, except for the representative of the Member state in question.

    Proceedings under Article 7(3) of the TEU allow the Council to suspend the rights of a Member States, including voting rights of their representatives, once a serious and persistent breach of EU values under Article 2 of the TEU has been determined. Any suspension needs to be approved by a qualified majority of the Council. 

    Infringement proceedings allow the EC to monitor the application of EU law and take legal action against a Member State that fails to properly apply EU law.  During the proceedings, the EC engages in a dialogue with the Member State. Then, if the EC sees fit, it may send a reasoned opinion to the Member State, which serves a formal request to comply with EU law. If the Member State fails to comply with EU law, the EC may refer the matter to the Court of Justice. If the court finds that a country has breached EU law and the Member State still fails to take steps to eliminate the breach, the EC may refer the Member State back to the court. This time, if the ECJ finds that there is an ongoing breach of EU Law, it can impose financial sanctions. The Member State will be obliged to pay the financial sanctions until it complies with EU Law.

    The Regulation on a General Regime of Conditionality for the Protection of the Union  Budget, also known as the Conditionality mechanism, 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. If only one of the criteria is fulfilled, the mechanism will not apply. The EC proposes the measures under the Conditionality mechanism to the Council, which has to approve the measures by a qualified majority.

    The European Rule of Law Mechanism, established in 2019, provides a process for an annual dialogue between EU institutions, Member States, and other national stakeholders on issues related to the rule of law. Based on its findings and the discussion with stakeholders, the EU issues annual Rule of Law reports on the development of the rule of law across Member States.

    The Rule of Law checklist is a document of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, which defines the core elements of the rule of law.The Rule of Law checklist is used as a reference criterion for the European Rule of Law Mechanism.

    The Future

    Conflicts/Key Challenges

    The toothless Article 7

    While Article 7 hypothetically allows the suspension of the rights of a Member States, an agreement between Poland and Hungary makes it impossible to be utilized. Therefore, with the far-right in the EU on the rise, it is unlikely that Article 7 will ever be applied. 

    In order to amend Article 7, however, the consent of all Member States’ parliaments, including Poland and Hungary would be needed. Moreover, any change to the now-strict rules may pose a threat in the future, making the EU even more vulnerable to the rise of the far-right.

    Effectivity and actionability of existing legal instruments

    While the EU has instruments to enforce its legislature, the proceedings usually last long and thus, the EU is unable to swiftly react to new changes in Member States’ policies. As of the end of 2020, infringement proceedings regarding the Single Market, the most common area of infringement proceedings, lasted 37.3 months  on average.

    While the CJEU may at any time introduce an interim measure, such a suspension in executing the legal act in question, the measure is difficult to enforce as Member States are usually reluctant to pay both sanctions introduced through interim measures, and sanctions imposed by a final judgement. Thus, it may take years before a Member State feels the effects of EU’s law enforcement measures

    Tackling rule of law breaches v. principle of conferral

    While the violation of the rule of law principle is to be taken very seriously, Member States still remain the so-called “Masters of the Treaties”. Thus, another fundamental principle of the EU should be borne in mind – the principle of conferral8

    Since the EU can then only act within the limits of the competences conferred upon it by the Member States, the question remains whether any further measures can be taken within the scope of the EU’s competences. The Regulation on a General Regime of Conditionality for the Protection of the Union Budget, for example, was brought before the CJEU, since Hungary and Poland believed that the EU was acting beyond its competence. While the CJEU held that the regulation is in line with EU law, the principle of conferral needs to be borne in mind while adopting further measures.

    Measures Ahead

    The EU is preparing to apply the new Conditionality mechanism for the first time.

    On the 18th of September, the EC proposed to suspend €7.5 billion, which amounts to one-third of the cohesion funds allocated to Hungary unless it sufficiently addresses its rule of law shortcomings in the coming two months. On November 30th, the EC found that Hungary has not progressed enough in its reforms and the suspended funds will not be released until 27 “super milestones” including 17 remedial measures against corruption are met. Following the recommendation of the EC, , the Council has decided on December 12th 2022 to suspend some €6.3 billion from funds dedicated to Hungary. Hungary may regain access to these funds if it manages to implement all the proposed remedial measures within the following 2 years.

    Similarly, the EU threatens to freeze payments of regional aid to Poland under the Conditionality mechanism due to threats to judicial independence in Poland. Payments will be held back by the EC until the matter is resolved. Poland is entitled to a total of €76.5bn, if it fulfils the conditions set out by the commission.

    With new measures in place and the pressure towards reforms, we are yet to see if the EU can effectively resolve the breaches of the rule of law in Hungary and Poland. However, with the far-right in the EU on the rise, it is clear that further steps need to be taken in order to ensure that EU values and the rule of law are upheld in the future.

    Useful Links

    video by the European Parliament on the monitoring, prevention, and enforcement mechanisms of EU law.
    video by TLDR News on rule of law developments in Hungary.
    video by EURACTIV on the proceedings under Article 7 of the TEU
    video by Euronews on the application of the conditionality mechanism on Hungary
    video by BBC on development of rule of law in Poland

    Rule of Law Report 2022 Toolbox – a short visual overview of the EU’s Rule of Law Framework

    Definitions & Questions



    Committee on Legal Affairs II

    Chaired by Raphael Gross-Chartuni (NL)

    Topic Pitch

    The rise of giant tech companies and innovative business models has cast gloom on the EU. Exploitation goes unnoticed and lobbyists move freely in the shadows. Platform workers are met with dire working conditions while often being categorised as self-employed, thus robbing them of the rights and protections all labourers are entitled to. The Commission has proposed a Directive to address this, but it was met with heavy resistance from corporate lobbyists. These lobbyists exercise disproportionate amounts of power and heavily affect European decision-making, all while corporations are evading taxes through aggressive tax planning to generate more profit and deprive welfare systems of the Member States of their needed funding.

    Key Takeaways

    • 5.5 million platform workers are recognised as self-employed and do not benefit from the labour rights they are entitled to;
    • Corporations have spent millions to stop the proposed Commission’s directive on protecting platform workers;
    • Civil groups and NGOs’ financial and political power is incomparable to that of the corporate lobby;
    • The EU loses EUR 170B annually due to complex international forms of tax evasion;
    • Minimal action has been taken to identify and stop European Member States that function as tax havens, such as Luxembourg, Ireland and the Netherlands.

    The Present


    The current ambiguity within the gig economy has greatly impacted the well-being of workers in the EU. While major unionisation has occurred and national jurisdictions are amending current frameworks on worker status identification, the struggle to push an EU-wide and effective proposal is a product of the corporate lobby. While the EU houses many large corporations, which employ millions and generate billions, significant amounts of tax money are lost as the EU is home to several tax havens and a multitude of Member States with weak taxation systems.

    The Treaty of Lisbon, the legal foundation of the EU, introduced a new dimension of lobbyism, where large groups could have a direct effect on the law-making process of the EU. Many discrepancies in lobbying power are seen between corporations and civil groups or NGOs; this disparity calls into question the validity and consequence of the corporate lobby in Europe.

    Corporate exploitation in Europe is a controversial topic with much legislative potential. However, attempts to regulate corporate industries are met with an opposing force. Pending regulations are closely discussed with lobby groups, who receive the contents of legislation before most news outlets, while many EU politicians start their careers in corporate lobbying after leaving the EU. Therefore, the question of how the EU should tackle corporate exploitation and evasion of social responsibility remains unsolved.

    Stakeholders/Key Actors

    Corporate lobbyists are defined as entities which aim to influence legislators. Corporation contract lobbyists direct or hire firms to represent their interests to political organs, such as the Commission or Council.

    Tech corporations are companies which sell technological products or services. As the EU is innovation and technology-dependent, these corporations can generate massive amounts of wealth and hire corporate lobbyists.

    The European Commission is the executive branch in charge of creating, proposing and enforcing legislation. The Commission is the only EU body with legislative initiative1. It is additionally set up in Directorate-Generals (DGs) which are specific departments with their respective purviews. They work on and propose legislative acts, such as the Platform Directive, which is currently in development and  discussion between the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (DG-EMPL) and various stakeholders, before it is proposed to the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament.

    NGOs such as the Corporate European Observatory, Oxfam Novib and Lobby Control are non-governmental organisations which address social or political issues. In the case of this topic, the aforementioned NGOs are largely relevant as these investigate the effects of lobbyism and corporate power.

    OLAF (European Anti-Fraud Office) is an EU body founded by the Commission. It aims to combat fraud affecting the EU budget, investigate internal corruption and develop anti-fraud policies. These goals are accomplished through independent investigations. However, its actions are only on an administrative and investigative basis, meaning that it can only recommend adequate action to relevant parties. 

    Legal Framework/Measures already in place

    The European employment strategy (EES) consists of several comprehensive frameworks regarding labour protection and regulation, entailing protections on working conditions and workplace safety. These regulations mostly fall under the principle of proportionality and shared competence, meaning that the EU cannot exceed what is necessary to achieve the objective of  a treaty while Member States can only pass laws in areas where the EU has not, or decided that it will not. 

    Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) is an umbrella term for practices that international corporations use to avoid taxes through the usage of legal loopholes in taxation systems. As a response to this, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) set up the G20 Project to facilitate the anti-BEPS legislation. In 2016, the Commission proposed the Anti Tax Avoidance Package (ATAP) which aimed to align tax laws across all Member States through a series of recommendations and legallybinding measures to block the most common methods of BEPS. Multinationals are required to fully disclose the financial pipeline through all countries while adhering to a set of criteria, including tangible assets, employee count and paid taxes. Quickly afterwards, the Anti Tax Avoidance Directive was activated, updating the previous legislation. 

    The EU enforces a ‘’list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes’’, which blacklists recognised tax havens; currently consisting of 12 different nations. Nations which do not comply with the set taxation criteria are identified as tax havens by the European Council.

    The Joint Transparency Register (JTRS) is an online registry for lobbyists who engage in business with the EU. The registry catalogues the lobby expenditures, the topic of discussion, members and time, while lobbyists agree to comply with a code of conduct on fair lobbying practices. The register, however, is optional for lobbyists. In 2021, the JTRS was updated and the first mandatory signing procedure was activated for rapporteurs, shadow rapporteurs and committee chairs to publicly list their lobby meetings.

    The Future

    Key Challenges

    Hire and fire

    The current labour market is noticeably changing. The casualisation of the workforce has shifted a predominant portion of this market to non-traditional forms of labour. Such is the stand-by or 0-hour contracts which are rapidly gaining popularity. Interestingly, labour facilitated through online platforms has massively increased due to its efficiency and ease of use. However, major drawbacks have arisen as platform-dependent workers are exploited. In the last few years, the news has become saturated with lawsuits against companies like Uber, as the employees were unlawfully recognised as self-employed and performing labour under dire circumstances.

    Labourers with the recognised status of ‘’worker’’ receive protective regulation on equal pay, working time, maternity and paternity leave and pay, health and safety information, consultation and collective redundancies in the EU. Estimates show that around 5.5 million workers are at risk of being misclassified as they are using digital platforms for labour utility, meaning that these workers do not receive the aforementioned protection they need. The general casualisation of labour has complicated access to social or employment rights due to the intermittent and informal nature of stand-by and 0-hour contracts, often through digital platforms. Additionally, many contracts involve third parties, which makes it more difficult (for the worker) to identify the correct employer.2 

    The inaccessibility to worker status bears dire consequences in most Member States, as many basic social instruments are provided from employer to employee. The absence of this status leads to higher labour-related risks and insufficient access to the aforementioned social instruments. This removes the safety nets that workers would otherwise be eligible for, in case of work-related injuries, sickness or paid leave.

    A nation without taxation

    Over the past few years, a flood of tax-evasion scandals has covered the EU. Where the Panama papers set foot, the Pandora papers took off. Many of these publications3 involve Member States and their role in syphoning billions in tax money, thereby shedding a light on the corporate corruption which massively takes place in and out of Europe.

    As a response to the numerous scandals and increasing economical damage behind BEPS, the commission set up a taxation blacklist, containing tax havens which are prohibited to EU corporations. However, this list has faced scrutiny as it contains only a fraction of all the current tax havens, while simultaneously whitewashing European havens.

    Out of the 31 countries with zero or almost no corporate taxation, only 12 are blacklisted. A recent study shows that these 12 nations only account for two per cent of all global tax losses, while European Member States account for 36 per cent, thus totalling an annual $154B. Oxfam Novib highlighted the hypocrisy behind this blacklist, as at least five Member States do not meet the criteria imposed on non-EU countries. These States, together with Ireland, also account for an annual loss of EUR 42.8B from the remaining 22 other Member States. Oxfam Novib identified 18 (out of 31) Member States with potentially harmful tax practices, which is more than half. Important to note is that international corporations have adapted to the legislation implemented after the scandals, as they changed their tax structures to accommodate newer tax havens, such as Ireland or the Netherlands.

    The revolving door

    The EU has put great emphasis on lobbyism, or rather European interest representation. The ability of interest groups to directly participate in the legislative process is an intended effect of the Treaty of Lisbon. The validation and integration of lobbyism have transformed European politics, as the effects are direct and early stage, with corporate representative meetings before the publication of a draft directive.

    While this could potentially pave the way to the enhancement of democracy, the exact opposite is what the status quo entails. There exists a major discrepancy4 between the representation of corporations and that of NGOs or civil society platforms, as 75 per cent of all meetings regarding the Digital Services Act Package with the Commission were conducted by the Big Tech lobby, while less than 20 per cent were from NGOs. Lobbyists also exercise their influence through a myriad of alternatives, such as the usage of biassed think tanks, academic research and high-level names.
    Many EU representatives and politicians, once out of office, promptly receive well-paid and powerful positions in corporations and lobbying organisations, as is evidenced by Reinald Krueger’s consultancy in the Vodafone Group or Aura Salla – the former  head of disinformation and social networks in the Commission – who changed careers to Facebook, thus highlighting  potential conflict of interest and the sharing of sensitive and classified information, or by half of former Commissioners who were hired by powerful lobby groups after their tenure in in 2014. Additionally, over 70% of all lobbyists from google and Meta have previously worked for governments.

    Measures Ahead

    The commission is currently developing a new Directive that seeks to define several criteria for employment identification. These relate to the specific relation a labourer has with their contractor by following the primacy of facts. Meaning that meeting at least two out of five criteria will resolve the self-employment status and grant the labourer worker status, where the employer and employee are subject to both local and European jurisdiction on these matters. 
    The Directive further aims to enforce transparency on automated services within the platform, as these can be subject to data privacy or personnel mismanagement. However, there exists much discussion on the direction that this Directive should take, with certain proponents for strict regulations and corporations which lobby for more market freedom.

    Useful Links


  • LIBE


    Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs

    Chaired by Elsa Nautsch (CH)

    Topic Pitch

    Climate change is currently one of the most pressing issues the world is facing. As such, it has many consequences we are only slowly beginning to understand. One of them is the influence climate change has on migration around the world. With 1.2 billion people being predicted to be displaced globally by 2050, it is an issue that will become more pressing over time if not tackled soon. On one hand, climate change will lead to more extreme weather and make a lot of land uninhabitable through processes such as a sea-level rise or desertification, thus forcing millions of people to migrate in order to simply survive. On the other hand, the effects of individuals fighting over resources and habitable land might lead to additional conflict that might act as an added factor in forcing people to search for refuge in other countries and regions, such as the European Union. 

    Key Learnings

    • Climate change leads to more extreme weather phenomena forcing people to leave their homes.
    • The migration caused by climate change is a security threat, as the fight over resources and habitable land might lead to additional conflict. 
    • “Environmental refugees” are not legally recognised as refugees under the 1951 Refugee Convention.
    • The European Union has had issues managing migration flows into Europe in the past, leaving the Mediterranean States under immense pressure and thousands of refugees dying while trying to reach Europe. 
    • Although it has been recognised that climate change will lead to additional refugees, all current legislation fails to combine the issues of climate change and migration efficiently.

    The Present


    Climate change has led to an increase in extreme weather phenomena, such as droughts, floods, and extreme wildfires. One of these phenomena, namely a drought, happened in Syria, pressuring Syrian people to leave their homes and look for safety elsewhere. Syria is certainly not the only country where this happened or still is happening. A report from the IEP has suggested that until 2050 up to 1.2 billion people are at risk of displacement. Most of this environmental migration1 happens within their own countries, but with climate change leading to more of these phenomena and making more land uninhabitable, people might look for refuge outside of their borders. As seen in Syria, environmental migration might also ignite or lead to more conflict. This is especially a problem as, out of the 19 countries facing the most ecological threats, ten are among the 40 least peaceful countries in the world. Although climate change has been acknowledged as one of the driving forces behind migration, the EU has so far failed to provide any specific legislation tackling this problem. 

    Model of how climate, conflict and migration interconnect

    Stakeholders/Key Actors

    • The UN Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) main interest is to help and support refugees2 and safeguard their rights. It mostly conducts on-site missions helping refugees in the field. Not only does the UNHCR support the EU bodies in their policymaking processes regarding asylum, but since July 2000 the EU institutions specifically have to consult the UNHCR on matters regarding asylum. Thus, the UNHCR can have more influence on whether future EU laws work toward their objective of the protection of refugees.
    • The European Commission is the executive branch of the EU with the power to propose new policies for the EU, and therefore one of the main stakeholders in this topic. As migration is a shared competence, the European Commission is responsible for drawing up the strategies for European asylum and migration processes. The Commission is interested in further regulating and improving migration processes and flows, and asylum strategies.  
    • The Court of Justice of the European Union is responsible for interpreting EU laws and ensuring they are properly applied in all Member States. Despite the CJEU not having a direct effect on refugee policymaking, as an actor, it can contribute to the interpretation of laws on asylum and refugees in light of climate change. It cannot, however, be forced to interpret laws by any EU body but rather has to do so in the context of court cases
    • The European Environment Agency (EEA) has the task to provide information on the environment that can help policymakers in achieving their goal of providing Europe with a better environment and informing the public about the current state of  things regarding the environment, especially climate change. It acts on behalf of the European Commission but is also supposed to reflect the decisions made by the Commission based on current research. 
    • The European Agency on Asylum3’s goal is for Member States to implement the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) correctly. It acts as a resource for them to apply the CEAS properly, thus it simply helps Members States and does not replace national asylum agencies. 
    • As migration and environment are shared competencies within the EU, Member States still have the power to pass their own legislations and policies where the European Commission has not done so yet. Their interests in this matter are usually heavily influenced by their populations’ public opinion and the current government. Therefore, the initiatives taken might vary a lot from country to country.  
    • Different NGOs usually serve as a voice for “environmental refugees” and try to speak up on behalf of their interests in front of the EU institutions through position papers or actual legal complaints. Different examples of such NGOs would be the Green Europe Foundation, working specifically within a European Framework or Climate Refugees, an NGO that works on a more international scale.

    Legal Framework/Measures already in place

    1951 Refugee Convention 

    The 1951 Refugee Convention provides a single universal definition of what a refugee is. It states that a refugee is a person unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin due to well-founded fear of prosecution due to their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion. Up until today, the convention laid to groundwork for most asylum laws and the definition is being used by many countries and especially the EU. 

    Competences of the European Union

    The EU has different competences in different areas. When it comes to the environment, justice or security, all areas this topic tackles, the EU operates under so-called shared competences. This essentially means that the EU is able to pass legislation and adopt legally binding policies for their Member States. Member States are still able to exercise their own competence in areas where the EU has not done so or decided not to do so. 

    So far the EU has not had any regulations specifically on “environmental refugees”. However, they do have different laws on migration and asylum in general. One of the main policy frameworks here is the Common European Asylum System (CEAS). It consists of different pieces of legislation that set out common standards within the EU for asylum decision-making and reception condition.  For one, its main goal is to harmonise asylum laws in all Member States and thus make for fair asylum decisions. For another, it also ensures that asylum seekers are granted a dignified stay in the country their seeking asylum in, as they are also not allowed to leave the said country while their application is being processed. 

    Common European Asylum System 
    European strategies to combat climate change

    The European Commission introduced in the European Green Deal a set of policies with the aim to reduce the net greenhouse gases by 55% by 2030 and reach carbon neutrality by 2050. Within the European Green Deal, the EU has identified climate change as a source of conflict and migration and proposed different strategies to combat climate change. However, the European Green Deal mainly tackles Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions and not the subsequent climate migration. Together with Global Gateway, they also support partner countries in various manners, one of them being different investments towards greener energies and technologies. As climate change is the main driver behind environmental migration, combating it is the most important step when tackling the problem from the root. 


    As the European Union has acknowledged climate change being one of the drivers for migration,  the European Parliament has called for more joint research on the link between climate change and migration. The results of these studies are supposed to help come up with new and more targeted responses to the issue. Additionally, they plan on sharing guidelines, technical assistance and information with affected countries. One such study requested by the LIBE Committee in the past has been published in July 2020, stating different recommendations such as the installment of a policy connecting climate change and migration issues and the development of a strategy that produces solutions on asylum and migration claims connected to climate change. 

    The Future

    Key Challenges

    Extreme weather phenomena

    Research has shown that extreme weather phenomena caused by climate change will worsen over the next years and push millions of people into migration. Among others, massive draughts, a rise in extreme storms and floods, and more frequent and intense wildfires will put more individuals at risk in the short term. Just last year, in the summer of 2021, we have seen immense flooding in parts of Germany and Belgium, killing 220 people and forcing 30000 more to leave their homes. Such events are predicted to be nine times more likely due to climate change. In the same summer, Algeria has been hit by wildfires that inflicted more damage than all wildfires combined in the last 12 years. In addition, several long-term effects of climate change will impact the habitability of certain regions. As such, the sea-level rise will put people living close to the coast in danger, the melting of glaciers will be putting mountainous regions at risk, and the change in the atmospheric chemistry will affect the growth of crops. Although climate change is a global issue, its impacts are unevenly distributed and affect poorer countries disproportionately. For one, poorer countries are often located in regions more exposed to the effects of climate change. They oftentimes heavily rely on agriculture for their livelihood and with the effects of climate change making land barren and livestock dying, they are left with no other chance than to migrate4.

    Climate change as a driver of conflict 

    As more and more people will be displaced by the effects of climate change, concurrence over resources and habitable land will surge. Countries with existing unstable political systems might face additional security threats and armed conflict might ensue. These crises will not only be harsh on the individual countries themselves but most likely also spill over national borders and force people to leave their countries. With regions that are highly at risk, such as the Middle East and North Africa, being close to Europe, a lot of “environmental refugees” might seek refuge here. Another prominent example of climate change further driving conflict currently is Nigeria. More than 50% of its population makes their living from farming. As draughts and higher temperatures make agriculture more difficult and made them more vulnerable to being recruited by terrorist organisations such as Boko Haram. Since the group’s formation, they have been responsible for more than 40000 deaths and the displacement of 2.4 million people. 

    Definition of “environmental refugee”5 

    The term refugee has been defined in the 1951 Refugee Convention as a person who has a well-founded fear of being persecuted in their country of origin because of their religion, race, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion and thus cannot return to their home country. However, there is no mention of climate hazards as valid grounds for people to seek asylum and acquire refugee status. As such, the term and concept of an “environmental refugee” are still uncertain in the context of law and practice. As “environmental refugees” cannot get asylum, they would be simply considered irregular migrants, leaving them without proper protection and oftentimes at risk of being deported back to their country of origin. 

    Managing migration flows6

    In the past, the EU has faced issues with managing migration flows into Europe. The huge influx of refugees in 2015, for example, has shown various issues within the asylum system. For one refugees not treated uniformly in all Member States under the current CEAS. Additionally, only very few Member States are responsible for all asylum seekers. Currently, the refugee status of an individual must be confirmed in the country of their arrival. In the past, this led to a lot of pressure on Member States, especially on Mediterranean countries such as Italy and Greece. As unsure predictions still are, some suggest, that future migration flows will intensify from the South, therefore potentially hitting Italy, Spain and Greece the hardest.  In addition, a lot of the migration routes the refugees have been taking to get into Europe are extremely dangerous leaving thousands to die on their way here. Let alone in 2022, an estimated 1200 refugees died in the Mediterranean7.

    Measures Ahead

    New Pact on Migration and Asylum

    The European Commission has recognised the issues with its past asylum and migration policies and has introduced the New Pact on Migration and Asylum in 2019 which is still to be approved by its Member States and the European Parliament. Some of the main goals presented in the Pact are to distribute clear responsibilities between Member States, ease the pressure on ones that have been dealing with the highest refugee numbers and stronger cooperation between the EU and partner countries. However, the Pact does not specifically tackle the issue of “environmental refugees” and their recognition in Europe. 

    The EU and its bodies have named climate change repeatedly as one of the main drivers behind future migration. Already in 2015 Jean-Claude Juncker, the predecessor to Ursula von der Leyen  mentioned “climate refugees” as an upcoming pressing issue that needs to be addressed as swiftly as possible. Still, the EU fails to this day to provide concrete legislation or solutions to the issue.8 

    Legal Eagle 

    Although “environmental refugees” are not technically refugees under the 1951 Refugee Convention, there still is the principle of non-refoulment. The principle means that countries have an obligation to protect and welcome an individual if their life is in danger in their country of origin. In late 2019, the United Nations Human Rights Committee accepted that climate change does impose such a serious threat on people’s lives and that the principle of non-refoulment is applicable. 

    Some experts also state that a few EU Directives9, if interpreted very broadly, might already cover environmental causes of migration. For example, the Temporary Protection Directive (TPD) grants Member States the right to extend temporary protection in additional categories to refugees, one of them possibly being environmental factors.  In the end, the interpretation of these directives lies with the national competence of Member States. This means that protection for “environmental refugees” will vary across the EU. As of right now, Italy is the only one out of the Member States that offers explicit protection to “environmental refugees”.

    Useful Links

    a concise video that explains the effect of climate change on displacement and refugees.