Category: Topic Overview Delft 2021



    Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL II)

    A 2018 Eurostat survey revealed that 16.5% of the 20-34 olds in the EU were neither in employment nor in education and training (NEETs). Taking into account the tendency towards automatization and digitalization of jobs, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, how should the EU facilitate the integration of youth into a more competitive labour market?

    By Bakir Haljevac (BA) 

    1. The topic at a glance 

    Since the Great Recession, the percentage of unemployed youth has been increasing. After peaking in 2013, this percentage has been steadily declining each year due to the recovery of the EU’s economy and the help of EU programs addressing the issue. However, with new challenges including a pandemic-driven economic crisis and large-scale automation around the corner, and digitalization of jobs, it is clear that the EU needs to act differently than the last time the economic crisis emerged. Taking into account that young employees are more likely to be laid off than experienced workers and that they have difficulty getting employed in the first place. This makes the youth significantly vulnerable in the labour market. Having in mind the challenges ahead, which measures should be taken to deal with youth unemployment and help younger generations adapt to modern market needs

    2. Key Actors and Stakeholders 

    The European Commission is the EU’s executive body. The Commission alone is responsible for drawing up proposals for European legislation, and it implements the decisions of the European Parliament, and the Council of the EU. The European Parliament, the Commission, and the EU governments negotiate and decide European Social Fund strategy and budget. Besides actively investing in the Youth Guarantee, the European Commission is also developing a number of EU-level tools to help the Member States, such as the European Alliance for Apprenticeships, the Quality Framework for Traineeships, EURES, and the ‘your first EURES job’ initiative.

    The European network of Public Employment Services was established following a decision by the European Council and the European Parliament to maximize the efficiency of Public Employment Services (PES). Public Employment Services is a network of 32 agencies that connects job seekers with employers. Although structured differently in each country, all PES help match supply and demand on the labour market through information, placement, and active support services at local, national, and European level.

    Member States are 27 countries within the European Union. Each Member State’s youth unemployment rate was varying from 6.5% up to 43.6% in 2017. Member States contribute, alongside the European Commission, to financing the European Social Fund. The budget is then distributed by the Youth Employment Initiative to the Member States and regions to finance their operational programs that increase youth employment and provide more job opportunities for the younger generations within the EU.

    3. Key Conflicts  (150-200 words) 

    Although the EU has taken significant measures to solve the issue of youth unemployment and helped more than 24 million people to find a job through Youth Guarantee since 2013, there still are disparities among Member States. For instance, countries like Spain, Greece, and Italy have a much higher youth unemployment rate than they had before the Great Recession. Having in mind the inequality of chances for employment in Member States, it is important to evaluate the efficacy of EU programs for the Member States that have the highest cases of youth unemployment.

    With the fast-changing labour market, the skillsets valued in the past may not be such an advantage for future needs. Considering the digitalization of jobs and the effort necessary to adapt to the Industrial Revolution 4.0, the EU and the Member State governments should ensure that the youth has the knowledge and expertise which meets the market demands for future jobs. Provided consulting services on long-term career planning and adoption to the new working environments would also prove highly useful.

    4. What has been done so far? 

    – The EU created the Youth Guarantee (YG) in 2013, a new approach to tackling youth unemployment, and has since built bridges to the labour market for more than 24 million young people. Since 2014, every year more than 5 million people have registered to the YG, and more than 3.5 million have accepted an offer of employment, continued education, a traineeship, or an apprenticeship. After an application is sent to the YG, a career offer is sent to the applicant within 4 months. Since the start of YG, youth unemployment has decreased from a peak of 24% in 2013 to 14% in 2019.

    The European Social Fund (ESF) is worth more than EUR 10 billion per year. The ESF has provided targeted support for youth employment since long before the crisis and has been vital in tackling the problem of youth unemployment. From 2007 to 2012, 20 million young people under 25 benefited from the ESF through training or mentoring.

    – In 2013 the Commission launched The European Alliance for Apprenticeships and the effort has been instrumental in creating more than 900,000 apprenticeship opportunities for young people with the financial support of ESF, Youth Employment Initiative, Erasmus+, and various employers

    – To help fight youth unemployment and to kick-start the Youth Guarantee, additional resources were provided for Member States with the highest levels of youth unemployment. This came in the form of the Youth Employment Initiative, with EUR 6.4 billion in funds for the most affected Member States. Thanks to its positive impact, it was then increased to 8.8 billion in 2017.

    5. Further links

    – ‘Not in employment, education or training (NEETs)’, an article by Eurofound, 2020

    – ‘EU measures to tackle youth unemployment’, a document by the European Commission, 2014

    – ‘The future of work: Implications and responses by the PES Network’, a PES Network working paper written by the European Commission, 2018

    – ‘Youth employment’, an article by the European Commission, 2019

    – ‘Covid-19: how the EU fights youth unemployment’, an article by News European Parliament, 2020

  • ITRE


    Committee on Industry, Research and Technology (ITRE)

    Atomic future? “Accounting for over half of the EU’s carbon-free electricity, nuclear power is regarded by some as a key component of a sustainable energy production model. With divergent energy policies among Member States and an increasingly negative public opinion towards nuclear power, what stance should the EU adopt on the usage of nuclear power?” 

    By Thomas Celie (NL) and Pien Pelt (NL)

    1. The topic at a glance 

    A European Green Deal is high on the priority list of the European Commission of 2019-2024, yet nuclear energy, the power source that currently supplies 50% of Europe’s low-carbon electricity, will not receive any investments from the European Green Deal Investment Plan (EGDIP). On one hand, nuclear energy is deemed dangerous due to three main reasons: the possibility of weaponization, the non-disposable waste that has to be managed, and the accidents that have happened in the past. On the other hand, the main benefit of nuclear power is its ability to create high amounts of low carbon energy, which in turn reduces carbon emission. The less fossil fuel we burn each year, the more time we make for innovation of renewables to catch up.

    2. Key Actors and Stakeholders 

    Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. They provide information to policymakers around the world with regards to its natural, political and economic impacts and risks. They also provide some possible responses to these issues.

    European Commission, specifically the Directorate-General for Energy (DG ENER), is in charge of developing EU energy-related policies. They have the goals of  achieving secure, sustainable, and competitively priced energy for Europe.

    International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA): is an intergovernmental forum for scientific and technical co-operation in the nuclear field. They work towards spreading safe, secure and peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology.

    European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom): The EU established Euratom as a separate entity with the goal of developing nuclear energy and distributing it among Member States. Besides developing nuclear energy, Euratom is also interested in nuclear power, safeguarding nuclear materials and the construction of the International Fusion Reactor ITER.

    Countries within Europe and the EU specifically that have operating or under construction nuclear power plants

    Western European Nuclear Regulators Association( WENRA) was developed to take a critical look at the nuclear safety measures of Nations that applied for Membership of the EU.

    European Nuclear Safety Regulatory Group (ENSREG) is an independent, expert advisory group created by the European Commission. ENSREG is committed to the constant improvement in nuclear safety and radioactive waste management and in increasing the understanding among policymakers.

    TerraPower: Bill Gates supports this company in nuclear energy that is a leading actor in commercial nuclear research because they are trying to find a way for nuclear waste to be turned into fuel again. 

    3. Key Conflicts 

    Stances on nuclear energy differ greatly among the Member States. France and Sweden have been investing in nuclear energy for the last few years, while countries like Germany, Spain and Belgium are in a so-called nuclear power phase-out. This means the countries are slowly stepping away from nuclear energy, often replacing it with fossil fuels. The main clash point between their views is the different ways in which different energy sources pollute. The use of fossil fuels emits greenhouse gases, this causes the warming of the global temperature, which leads to enormous catastrophes, such as immense wildfires, floods and hurricanes. Climate change also directly relates to the loss of the natural environment. The EU has set goals to minimize these impacts as stated in the European Green Deal. While radioactive waste from nuclear power plants stays dangerous for 100,000s of years by emitting radioactive radiation. When waste gets leaked into the environment, drinking water could get contaminated. Radiation in larger quantities causes organ damage, radiation sickness and, in the long term, cancer. 

    Another limitation of nuclear power seems to be the negative public opinion caused by famous disasters and accidents such as Chernobyl and Fukushima. This means construction and maintenance costs for nuclear power plants are high, and that such projects often face huge opposition from both locals and action groups. Another result of this is that businesses find it too high of a risk to invest in nuclear projects, thus leaving governments alone in providing the required resources. New nuclear power plants may offer solutions to these problems, however, it would take many investments to see these technologies becoming reality. If the Member States want to achieve the carbon output goals set by the  European Green Deal, they will need to alter their strategy.

    4. What has been done so far?

    European amending Nuclear Safety Directive 2014 The directive was mainly focused on applying the lessons learned from the Fukushima meltdown and the safety requirements made by the Western European Nuclear Regulators Association( WENRA) and the IAEA, making sure safety regulations are in place for construction, maintenance and shut down of the power plants.

    – Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) 1970 This treaty was mainly made to prevent countries from developing nuclear warheads. 191 countries have joined the treaty since. The treaty also gave life to the IAEA.   

    The EU’s Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel Management Directive 2011 Euratom requires Member States to have a national plan for storing nuclear waste on their territory and limits the export of nuclear waste. 

    European regulation against misuse In 2005 and 2009 the EU made regulations that required Member States to provide data about their nuclear facilities and supplies to the European Commission.

    EU green deal The European Green Deal consists of many regulations and directives but the main goal was to have reduced emissions by 100% by 2050 compared to 1990. A new long term strategy to reduce emissions was developed in early 2020. Among other things, it stated that the Member States could decide for themselves what kind of new energy source they would use. Nuclear energy was stated as an example. However, EDGIP does not fund nuclear energy.

    5. Further links 

    A research and policy organization that is pro-nuclear

    A brief video that explains the basics of nuclear energy (We also recommend to look at the other two videos in this series.)

    A short article about how current reactors produce energy

  • SEDE


    The Committee on Security and Defense (SEDE)

    The United States’ inability to detect and disrupt the interferences in the 2016 presidential election was a demonstration of how new information technologies might affect our decision-making. How should the EU and its Member States work against information warfare and ensure the stability of our democracy?

    By  Iona Lindsay (UK), Thea Tjolle (UK) 

    1. The topic at a glance 

    With some proclaiming an “information world war”, the dangers of election hacking and cyber warfare are not confined to the Russian tampering of the US 2016 presidential election. European democracies, including the UK, the Netherlands and Italy have also been targets of cyber warfare originating from third party hackers. These threats come in a variety of forms, including cybersecurity breaches and digital tampering with the outcome of the vote and, most dangerously, disinformation campaigns. 

    Furthermore, in this digital age, the EU is becoming ever more vulnerable to cyber attacks. The advancement of digital and audio technology makes it easier than ever to make fake news sources seem credible, and with many Member States investing in online voting platforms, the risk of election hacking is distinct. The EU has been highly criticised for their lack of effort to prevent information warfare, in particular with its inaction during the 2019 European Parliament elections. It is, therefore, imperative that the EU and its Member States now take serious action to defend themselves against information warfare to ensure the integrity of European democracies.

    2. Key Actors and Stakeholders 

    Social media platforms: Create an environment for fake news to spread exponentially. Many political/respected figures have a platform to spread fake news because of their social media following.

    Local media platforms: there can be problems with media platforms being particularly biased. These have a strong effect on the way people vote and can often lead to increased polarisation.

    The European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA): contributes majorly to EU cyber policy and improves the reliability of user products, services and processes with cybersecurity certification schemes. The agency also works effectively with Member States and EU bodies to help Europe prepare itself for future cyber challenges.

    Member States: Member States have primary  responsibility for their own nation’s cyber-security.

    The European Commission: Draws up proposals for new European legislation. In the past, it has proposed guidelines to help Member States, such as the Joint Communication on the new EU cybersecurity strategy in 2017.

    3. Key Conflicts 

    Democracies rely on open information that can be trusted and require robust mechanisms to ensure this credibility. However, information warfare attacks are a major threat to this ideal, now more than  ever as new technology allows the propagation to be wide spread, and happen both rapidly and cheaply. Attacks can occur in any number of ways, including the manipulation of voters through disinformation; the targeting and destruction of particular candidates; or the creation of inauthentic groups to create or worsen conflict. 

    Cyber Attacks are very difficult to defend against. Attacks are difficult to predict, very tricky to trace and can come from every possible platform with past examples ranging from slipping into private communications (as China was discovered to have been doing with internal EU messages in December 2018), to funding fringe candidates. With attacks on all fronts, the EU has been forced to act responsively, meaning future problems cannot be planned for. 

    Disinformation is widely propagated on social media sites. The algorithms used by these sites only exacerbate the problem by creating an “Echo Chamber” of disinformation as consumers are led to similar links. However, for the most part companies (including Facebook, Google and Twitter) have failed to take satisfactory remedial steps. Insufficient cooperation makes it difficult to monitor and, therefore, solve the issue of fake news on these sites. Moreover, tech companies are currently not legally liable for what occurs on their platforms. This makes it near impossible to hold sites propagating fake news accountable.

    In addition, European Analysts are forbidden from calling out or debunking propaganda produced by European websites or media, a limitation that is intended to guard against creeping infringements on free speech. However, this allows foreign threats to use European websites and social media accounts to post propaganda and disinformation. This poses a serious challenge for regulating information warfare. 

    Finally, since formal responsibilities in this field are shared between multiple authorities, meaningful results will only be achieved if all the relevant actors cooperate. However, such international co-operation is difficult to achieve due to tensions between nations. Countries are constantly accusing each other and working against, rather than with, each other.

    4. What has been done so far? 

    – To tackle disinformation, the EU set up ‘EU vs DisInfo and clarified a definition of disinformation so that fake news could be more easily classified. In 2019 Member States were asked to monitor disinformation and to share their findings with others through a ‘Rapid Alert System’: an early warning system which could warn countries about a potential wave of fake news. But most countries have failed to contribute and the network is now an unorganised archive of unanalysed information.

    – To improve cybersecurity, the EU has implemented two major directives. The 2016 Network and Information Security directive was the first piece of EU legislation specifically aimed at improving cybersecurity throughout the EU and the Regulation on the statute and funding of European political parties was revised to increase the recognition, effectiveness, transparency and accountability of European political parties and European political foundations.

    – In July 2020, the EU announced it was enforcing sanctions, including asset freezes and travel bans on hacker groups believed to be responsible for three major cybersecurity incidents that have affected European countries in the last 10 years. While it only covers activity in the EU,this being the first time the EU has issued sanctions for cyberattacks makes it  a great turning point for the EU.

    A Code of Practice on Disinformation created by the EU has been signed by online platforms Facebook, Google, TikTok and Twitter, as well as by advertisers. The self-assessment reports from these companies indicate comprehensive efforts to implement  the Code’s commitments over the last 12 months. 

    – France introduced a controversial law banning online fake news during election campaigns, giving judges the power to remove disinformation. Germany has introduced fines of up to €50M on social networks that host illegal content, including fake news and hate speech and Irish lawmakers introduced a bill to criminalise political adverts on Facebook and Twitter that contain intentionally false information.

    5. Further links

    Combating Disinformation and foreign interference in Democracies: Lessons from Europe (gives details of measures introduced by individual EU countries) 

    EU Strategies to secure the EU cyber space and critical infrastructure against hackers- a speech by ENISA’s Executive Director 

    Information Warfare: How the Russian’s interfered in the 2016 Election

    Protecting Democracy in an Era of Cyber Information War

    Securing free and fair European elections- A contribution from the European Commission

  • ENVI


    Committee on Environment, Public Health and Safety (ENVI)

    The extent of liberty: “As of October 2020, a near 4 million COVID-19 cases have been reported in the EU/EEA and the UK. Anticipating the introduction of a vaccine in 2021, how should the EU tackle the issue of anti-vaccination and enforcement of public health norms whilst respecting citizens’ freedom of choice?”

    By Ninni Issakainen (FI)

    1. The topic at a glance

    The public perception of vaccines in the European Union is largely positive, the majority agreeing that vaccines are important, safe and effective. Simultaneously, there is a large variation in attitudes towards vaccines both between Member States and inside them. This has led to outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles, in multiple European countries. For example, in 2017, 14,000 people contracted measles, more than three times the number in 2016. Currently, following the COVID-19 pandemic, anti-vaccination sentiment has increasingly gained popularity. Many Europeans are increasingly appealing to their freedom of choice to not be vaccinated. However, high rates of vaccination coverage are important in preventing infectious diseases such as measles or COVID-19. The decrease in vaccine confidence and calls for personal freedom not only risk already eradicated diseases returning but they could undermine the effect a vaccine can have at managing the COVID-19 pandemic in the future.

    2. Key Actors and Stakeholders 

    The European Commission: Compliment the national health policies by proposing legislation, providing financial support, and coordinating and facilitating the exchange of best practices between the EU countries and health experts. They have listed promoting vaccination as one of their current priorities.

    European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control: An Agency of the European Union working to strengthen Europe’s defence against communicable diseases. They aim to identify health threats within the EU and work with the Member States to prevent and manage them.

    Member States: Hold the primary responsibility for organizing and delivering health services and medical care. This includes building vaccination confidence among their citizens. 

    Social media platforms: Sites such as Facebook act as hosts for many anti-vaccination groups and allow them to recruit new members, as well to encourage vaccine scepticism among other users. 

    3. Key Conflicts  

    Variety of reasons cause Europeans to question the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. Firstly, the historical and political context of each Member State. For example, Germans are apprehensive towards government mandates due to the legacy of the Third Reich, which can influence vaccine attitudes. In France multiple political scandals surrounding vaccines, most notably the 2009 H1N1 crisis, eroded public trust in them. Currently the confidence in vaccines in France is one of the lowest in Europe. Another problem is the spread of disinformation in social media. A study has shown that online platforms have failed to prevent the promotion of Anti-vax misinformation despite condemning it in their guidelines. Because the causes of distrust vary, an effective one-size-fits-all response becomes unattainable. 

    This is further complicated by the fact that techniques to increase vaccine coverage like mandatory vaccination are not always efficient. An EU-funded study has found that mandatory vaccination does not necessarily lead to increased vaccine uptake. Indeed, many of its protestors feel like it violates their freedom of choice. This means a large number of sceptics are not anti-vaccine, but against compulsory vaccination. Such sentiments have gained more popularity recently due to the accelerated development rate of a Covid-19 vaccine. This has led people to question its safety.

    4. What has been done so far?

    – In 2018 the European Council issued a recommendation on strengthening cooperation against vaccine-preventable diseases which has produced actions such as monitoring the attitudes towards vaccination in Member States to offer them assistance based on their needs.

    – Establishment of Code of Practice on Disinformation, a set of self-regulatory standards to fight disinformation in social media. So far  online platforms such as Facebook, Google and TikTok have signed the Code, and enforces its policies, for example through limiting ads containing disinformation. However, there are still issues, for example with the platform’s cooperation with fact-checkers and their self-assessment reports procedures.

    – The European Commission coordinates a common European response to the coronavirus, one of its aspects being fighting disinformation. This includes cooperation with social media platforms to encourage them to promote authoritative sources, funding research, and providing materials for fact checking. For example, together with the European External Action Service they have exposed over 300 disinformation narratives around COVID-19 on

    5. Further links

    Member States have criticised the Code of Practice on Disinformation

    How the COVID-19 vaccine has affected the anti-vaccination movement in Germany

    Communication from the Commission on the preparedness for COVID-19 vaccination strategies and vaccine deployment

    Council Recommendation on strengthened cooperation against vaccine-preventable diseases