Category: Uncategorized

  • AIDA

    AIDA

    MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION BY THE COMMITTEE ON ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IN A DIGITAL AGE

    “Job Killer Artificial Intelligence (AI)?: With the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimating that up to 60 % of all jobs in industrial countries will be impacted by rising AI technology, the fourth industrial revolution is disrupting the European job market. However, while AI poses dangers to some jobs, it certainly has benefits for others. How can the EU facilitate a smooth transition into the era of AI for workers?”

    Ace Csellak (NL), Summerjay DuVall (NL), Neil Mewa (NL), Rani Renken (NL), Willem Schuerman (NL), Imme Vellenga (NL), Cilayni Wooter (NL), Marieke de Weerd (NL, Chairperson)

    The European Youth Parliament aims to find a good balance between the benefits of the use of AI in the workforce and the mental, physical, and financial well-being of human employees, by emphasising the importance of knowledge, research, and education, all while embracing technological progress.

    The above is decided upon because

    1. Artificial Intelligence (AI) offers numerous benefits, like creating new jobs and increasing labour productivity by 11-37%, with the EU having the potential of becoming a global leader in its development,
    2. 60% of jobs are expected to be influenced by AI, half of them negatively, with the risk of AI  replacing up to the equivalent of 300 million full-time jobs on a global scale,
    3. High income countries are more likely to be significantly affected by AI, yet they stand to gain more benefits from it compared to low income countries, potentially worsening the global digital divide and income disparities,
    4. AI’s local impact is disproportionately distributed,  with college-educated individuals and women facing the heaviest exposure, potentially exacerbating labour income inequality,
    5. 42%  of EU citizens lack basic digital skills needed for AI-related jobs, which creates issues of mismatches and skill shortages and reinforces social inequality due to deficiencies in education and skills,
    6. Implementing AI into the workforce goes hand in hand with challenges regarding safety, security, transparency, privacy, liability and responsibility, leaving the EU with the task of ensuring ethical use;

    To that end, the European Youth Parliament

    1. Acknowledges the positive impacts of AI, while emphasising the need to achieve a balance between the use of AI for economic prosperity and the wellbeing of people;
    2. Urges the European Commission to establish regulations indicating which fields of work permit AI implementation and under what conditions, deciding that:
      1. jobs that concern a significant amount of emotional connection cannot be replaced by AI,
      2. hazardous occupations are encouraged to be replaced by AI, 
      3. employers cannot fire their employees solely due to AI implementation, without valid reason compliant with EU labour laws;
    3. Appeals to companies to implement a support-system for employees that have been replaced by AI, in which they:
      1. provide their replaced employees with compensation pay and opportunities to retrain if necessary,
      2. provide counselling through mental health professionals,
      3. facilitate opportunities like volunteering, internships or physical leisure activities to smoothen the transition into a new job;
    4. Requests Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and non-profit organisations, such as “AI4ALL”, to further research socio-economic effects of implementing AI in the workforce, focussing on gender, education, religion and age; 
    5. Asks Member States and NGOs to share research on AI aiming to narrow the digital divide within and between Member States to ultimately ensure equal access to the job market;
    6. Encourages the European Commission to fund target-oriented educational programmes across all Member States that empower people of all ages and of different socio-economic backgrounds to work with AI; 
    7. Calls upon the European Commission to enforce existing regulations, such as the EU Directive 20021, to ensure transparency and safety in workplaces affected by AI; 
    8. Supports the European Cybercrime Centre “EC3” in their approach to combat data leaks caused by black-hat hackers, addressing the public fear of data insecurity around AI.

    Annex: Definitions belonging to the Motion for a Resolution by the Committee on  Artificial Intelligence in a Digital Age (AIDA)

    For the purposes of this resolution:

    1. The Global Digital Divide refers to the unequal access to any form of digital technology, resulting in inequity of access to information and resources.
    2. Hazardous occupations are defined as jobs that are associated with danger and pose a risk for personal injury or illness.
    3. EU labour laws mean EU laws that define the rights and obligations of workers and employers, covering the main two areas of working conditions and the policies around informing and consulting workers, stating that termination without a legally valid reason is not allowed and can be penalised.
    4. A black-hat hacker refers to a person who hacks for personal gain.
    1.  Directive that obliges employers to inform their employees about any technological implementation and advancements in the workplace. ↩︎
  • FEMM

    FEMM

    Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality

    “My Body My Choice: While sexual and reproductive rights are widely acknowledged as human rights in many Member States, women continue to witness limitations or denials of their access to reproductive healthcare. Considering the legal restrictions on abortion in Member States like Malta and Poland, as well as the persistent practical barriers in other Member States, how can the EU collaborate with its Member States to enhance accessibility to abortion?”

    Ceylin Gülcan (NL),  Joppe Dirkzwager(NL), Bozo Maleki (NL), Nathalie van Eekelen (NL), Laurien Blaisse (NL), Abigail Dicksons (NL), Loïs Thunhorst (NL), Juul van Ginkel (NL), Imme Bosman (NL, Chairperson)

    The European Youth Parliament aims to promote women’s health, reproductive rights and gender equality, by enhancing access to abortion, raising awareness about its importance and increasing its availability. 

    The above is decided upon because,

    1. While access to safe abortion is widely acknowledged as a human right, abortions are still heavily restricted in the Member States Malta and Poland,
    2. Restricting abortion leads to a surge in unsafe, illegal procedures, endangering women’s health and lives,
    3. Being forced to keep the child can often heavily limit young mothers’ future prospects, due to multiple factors including but not limited to possible health complications, social stigma, an increased risk of domestic abuse, or educational backlashes, thereby harming gender equality,
    4. Many women are forced into seeking difficult and expensive cross-border abortion care, due to discrepancies in countries’ legislation, while being restricted in access to information,
    5. In some countries with access to abortion services, abortions are still nearly impossible to obtain, due to a shortage in doctors willing to carry out the procedure, usually out of religious beliefs,
    6. In many Member States, “pro-life groups” actively harass women willing to terminate their pregnancies, thereby creating a discourse hindering emancipated decision-making;

    To that end, the European Youth Parliament,

    1. Urges Malta and Poland to enhance access to abortion by altering their restrictive abortion policies; 
    2. Encourages Member States to enhance access to birth control by subsidising the acquisition of different birth control methods;
    3. Requests the European Commission to enhance accessibility to daycare facilities for young mothers, facilitating their completion of education and employment retention, through the establishment of a dedicated fund;
    4. Appeals to the Directorate-General for Communication to contribute to the reduction of the social stigma surrounding abortion by creating a media campaign;
    5. Further urges the European Commission to financially support Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) that aim at making cross-border abortion accessible to anyone;
    6. Requests the European Commission to support initiatives advocating for the establishment of abortion clinics in border regions adjacent to countries where abortion is illegal or heavily restricted by establishing a dedicated fund;
    7. Invites all Member States to work towards the reduction of physical and mental harassment faced by women seeking an abortion by enhancing policing of abortion clinics;
    8. Suggests that Member States incorporate voluntary short programs teaching abortion procedures into the curricula of medical schools, regardless of speciality;
    9. Further encourages medical employers to incentivize specialists performing abortions, by providing bonuses to those who do.
  • EMPL

    EMPL

    “Don’t You (Forget About Me): Europeans with a disability are at a greater risk of social exclusion. Furthermore, half of the disabled persons feel unfairly treated and discriminated against in day-to-day life, with a further 1 in 5 being victims of violence and abuse. Given that the EU is home to an estimated 100 million disabled persons, what can be done to create a more inclusive and accepting society for disabled persons?”

    Minna Elshaikh (NL), Boris Ganzevoort (NL), Brian Huisman (NL), Maya Martens (NL), Marko Milivojevic (NL), Noah Noudari (NL), Emma Popov (NL), Hanna Robbens (NL), Iman Seid (NL), Oswin Šimánek (CZ, Chairperson)

    The European Youth Parliament aims to raise awareness of the challenges encountered by persons with disabilities in their daily lives. Additionally, Member States are urged to guarantee equal treatment for persons with disabilities in education, healthcare, employment, and social life. The ultimate goal is to advance towards a fully inclusive society where persons with disabilities have equal access and opportunities, fostering respect and acceptance for everyone.

    The above is decided upon because,

    1. Persons with disabilities, especially women, children and the elderly, are at higher risk of being victims of violence and/or abuse.
    2. Persons with disabilities are at great risk of social exclusion which may be evidenced by pivotal necessities such as inaccessible infrastructure, facilities and services.
    3. With approximately 4.8 million persons with disabilities being unemployed in the EU, this group experiences a higher unemployment rate than their non-disabled counterparts, a figure that increases notably for persons with severe disabilities.
    4. The proportion of early school leavers amidst persons with disabilities is significantly higher than than among their non-disabled counterparts.
    5. Alarmingly, 52 % of persons with disabilities feel discriminated against, particularly in education, employment or when providing goods, facilities and services.
    6. 20,9 % of persons with disabilities over the age of 16 face the risk of poverty.
    7. 4,1 % of persons with disabilities reported unmet needs for medical care, due to reasons such as financial difficulties, long waiting lists, or the distance required to access necessary services.

    To that end, the European Youth Parliament,

    1. Calls upon the European Disability Forum to increase their efforts in building support groups for disabled persons to openly talk about their challenged in being accepted;
    2. Urges the European Commission to initiate a directive setting minimum standards of accessibility, such as having easy access to elevators with braille writing, or installing wheelchair ramps in public places; 
    3. Asks the Member State’s Employment and Social Affairs ministers to compel companies to cater to disabled peoples’ abilities, by:
      1. providing jobs that suit their set of skills,
      2.  adapting workplaces accordingly;
    4. Encourages the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion to invest funds in inclusive education in order to set up:
      1. special schools for severely disabled persons,
      2. media campaigns, consisting of posters, TEDtalks, and advertisements;
    5. Requests Member States to create an inclusive environment for persons with disabilities and encourage their education by subsidising tutoring and schools;
    6. Invites the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights to further promote the inclusion of disabled persons, by:
      1. promoting the learning and usage of sign-language and braille, 
      2. funding the acquisition of assistance dogs, 
      3. encouraging disabled people to participate in activities in day-to-day life.

    Annex: Definitions belonging to the Motion for a Resolution by the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL)

    For the purposes of this resolution:

    1. The Severity of Disabilities are defined by the “Global Activity Limitation Indicator” as follows:
      1. “Severely limited”: “Performing or accomplishing an activity cannot be done or only done with extreme difficulty, and that this situation has been ongoing for at least the past 6 months. Persons in this category usually cannot do the activity alone and would need further help from other people”.
      2.  “Limited but not severely”: “Performing or accomplishing a usual activity can be done but only with some difficulties, and that this situation has been ongoing for at least the past 6 months. Persons in this category usually do not need help from other persons. When help is provided it is usually less often than daily”.
      3. “Not limited at all”: “Performing or accomplishing usual activities can be done without any difficulties, or that any possible activity limitation has NOT been going on for at least the past 6 months (i.e. it is not a long-standing limitation)”.

  • ENVI

    ENVI

    Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety

    “There is No Planet B: With the devastating impacts of climate change becoming increasingly visible, the EU faces the challenge of reducing carbon emissions and transitioning towards sustainable energy sources. With the ambition to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, how can the EU accelerate the adoption of green technologies and encourage global cooperation to combat climate change?”

    Florian Blok (NL), Pepijn Bus (NL), Trisha Madan (NL), Iva Marjanovic (NL), Annabel Smith (NL), Jasmīna Bundule (LV, Chairperson)

    The European Youth Parliament aims to mitigate the devastating effects of climate change and achieve carbon neutrality before 2050 by promoting collective action and the use of a system of retributions and benefits. It further aims to do so by providing appropriate subsidies for the farming sector and those with lower incomes.

    The above is decided upon because

    1. There is a necessity for urgent action in order to achieve the EU commitment to Carbon Neutrality by 2050.
    2. The current rate of transition to sources of renewable energy is not efficient in order to ensure a sufficient reduction of greenhouse gases.
    3. There is a lack of importance placed on the global scale if any tangible results are to be achieved via the help of international agreements, such as the Paris Agreement and the European Green Deal.
    4. Consumer behaviour and lifestyle choices are impactful for achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.
    5. Until now, collective action has been ineffective in reaching its fullest extent in achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, since consumer behaviour and lifestyle changes have had little impact.
    6. Climate change disproportionately affects disadvantaged communities socially and economically.
    7. The agricultural sector’s struggle to balance profitability with stricter environmental regulations undermines support for climate initiatives, highlighting its dual role as both a major contributor to and victim of climate change.

    To that end, the European Youth Parliament

    1. Encourages Member States to incentivise citizens and companies to reduce their carbon usage by applying taxation based on their carbon emissions;
    2. Urges the European Commission to initiate funding for the transition towards diversified energy supply, including both nuclear and renewable energy sources;
    3. Asks the Directorate-General for Communication (DG COMM) to divulge climate change related research to the public, by producing and distributing respective advertisements;
    4. Proposes that the DG COMM encourages consumers to buy eco-friendly products through the use of media campaigns;
    5. Requests the European Commission to track the flows of money towards non-sustainable ends by initiating additional transparency policies;
    6. Calls upon the European Commission to fund projects supporting sustainable energy alternatives in low-income communities, thereby making green energy more accessible;
    7. Invites the Directorate-General for Climate Action to incentivise sustainable agricultural production through subsidies.

    Annex: Definitions belonging to the Motion for a Resolution by the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI)

    For the purposes of this resolution:

    1. Carbon Neutrality– balance between emitting carbon and absorbing carbon from the atmosphere.
    2. Collective Action – occurs when a number of people work together to achieve some common objective.
    3. Renewable Energyenergy derived from natural sources that are replenished at a higher rate than they are consumed.

    International Cooperation’ – collaboration between governments, businesses or individuals where it is agreed to work together towards similar strategies.

  • AFCO

    AFCO

    Committee on Constitutional Affairs

    “Radical Right Challenges to Europe’s Cohesion: The latest elections and polls in different Member States have revealed a rise in the political representation of far-right ideologies, which openly call for the dissolution of the EU or repeatedly undermine its values as outlined in the Treaty on European Union. With euroscepticism on the rise, what can the EU do to foster support for its mission and institutions, and strengthen European stability and democracy?”

    Marcel Alnaanaa (NL), Peli Duursma (NL), Fiene Smeets (NL), Lena Stefanovic (NL), Charlotte Verdonck (NL), Sterre van Wijk (NL), Colin Wilod Versprille (NL), Amélie Pasmanns (DE, Chairperson)

    The European Youth Parliament aims to counter the rise of far-right parties and right-wing extremism in the EU. It aims to provide transparent education to all citizens to mitigate the influence of misinformation and other tactics used by the far-right, while further combating online extremism and addressing disparities in development across and within the EU. 

    The above is decided upon because,

    A. Right-wing parties (RRPs) and far-right extremism have been on the rise in multiple EU Member States and the European Parliament.

    1. EU citizens often have negative attitudes towards the EU, shaping EU policy and leading to euroscepticism.
    2. Defining and reaching target populations for interventions aimed at educating about right-wing extremism is difficult, since far-right extremism is not confined to a certain social group anymore.
    3. Tactics such as populism and misinformation are used by the far-right to increase their voting outcomes.
    4. Online platforms allow for global networks of the far-right and a further spread of their ideology.
    5. Rural development traps lead to less support of the EU in underdeveloped areas. 

    To that end, the European Youth Parliament,

    1. Calls upon the European Commission to develop comprehensive guidelines for identifying political parties posing a threat to the Member States and the EU, in order to lawfully prohibit such parties;
    2. Encourages Member States to incorporate verified check marks awarded by impartial researchers to information published by political parties online;
    3. Requests the European Commission to form a specialised task force to monitor politicians on social media platforms who undermine EU values and treaties, and to enforce sanctions;
    4. Suggests the European Parliament publishes a comprehensive summary on how politicians delivered on electoral promises; 
    5. Invites Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), such as HOPE not hate, to establish dialogue forums to address citizens’ frustrations before extremist groups have the opportunity to exploit them;
    6. Urges the Ministries of Education of Member States to add information on the function of the European Union, diverse political perspectives, and the principle of a pluralistic society to their curriculums;
    7. Requests the Directorate-General of Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI) to allocate increased funding towards rural areas, with a specific focus on:
      1. addressing the disparity in development between rural and urban areas to mitigate regional development traps,
      2. prioritising education initiatives to raise awareness about the EU’s functioning and foster understanding of diverse political perspectives in rural communities. 

    Annex: Definitions belonging to the Motion for a Resolution by the Committee on Constitutional Affairs (AFCO)


    For the purposes of this resolution:

    1. Euroscepticism’ refers to those sceptical towards European integration, sometimes coupled with wishes to reestablish national sovereignty. 
    2. Populism’ is the idea of contrasting ‘the people’ with ‘the elite’. This strategy is used by RRPs to present themselves as the voice of ‘the people’ and to discredit ‘the elite’ that is currently in power. 
    3. Regional development traps’ can be defined as regions that face structural challenges hindering economic development, leading to a cycle of poverty and inequity.
    4. Directorate-General of Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI) is among other things responsible for EU policy on rural development, including fund allocation and rural development plans. 
  • AFET

    AFET

    Committee on Foreign Affairs

    “A Relationship in Crisis: While the EU faces difficulties in asserting influence in Africa, other countries’ impact continues to strive, as seen in projects like the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. However, African nations remain pivotal for the EU in addressing, amongst others, migration and economic interests. How can the EU fortify and rejuvenate its relationship with the continent?”

    Julia Davies (NL), Adam Elfeki (NL/CZ), Xavier Henry-Micah (CY), Amy Piwowarek (NL), Yara van Raan (NL), Victoria van der Goes (NL), Susan van der Weele (NL), Florentine Smit (NL), Fynn Woerlee (NL), Júlia Peña (ES, Chairperson)

    The European Youth Parliament aims to improve the relations between the African continent and the European Union. Its aim is to cultivate a mutually beneficial relationship between the EU and Africa grounded in trust and tangible results. In doing so, it aims to acknowledge historical legacies of colonialism, while working towards a cooperative future.

    The above is decided upon because

    1. Historical legacies of colonialism and exploitation continue to influence interactions between the EU and Africa.
    2. Collaboration between the EU and Africa is imperative to address global problems like climate change and promote sustainable development.
    3. The lack of ample opportunities for cultural and knowledge exchange between citizens of Europe and Africa impedes the fostering of diplomatic and social connections between the two regions;
    4. Illegal migration flows originating from Africa pose a critical challenge for social and political dynamics between the Member States and African nations.
    5. There is a lack of regular high-level dialogue between the EU and the African Union (AU) on key matters such as migration, global governance and sustainable development.
    6. The rise in competition from global powers such as China through the Belt and Road Initiative confronts the EU with growing challenges in defining its unique geopolitical role in Africa and designing joint-development strategies.
    7. China’s economic and political influence in Africa is often viewed more positively by its citizens than that of formal colonial powers.
    8. Armed conflicts and terrorism contribute to the political and economic instability of African nations, impeding the maintenance and strengthening of their international relations.

    To that end, the European Youth Parliament

    1. Calls upon Member States to address historical legacies of colonialism through symbolic acts such as the return of stolen artefacts and the acknowledgment of colonial atrocities;
    2. Invites the European Investment Bank (EIB) to provide incentives for economic development of African nations, for instance, by reducing the conditionality on loans; 
    3. Further requests the EIB to increase financing for development projects in Africa that promote education and job creation;
    4. Urges the European Commission to promote Afro-European climate cooperation by organising regular dialogue between the AU and the EU specifically focused on climate change;
    5. Encourages the European Commission to boost cultural and knowledge exchange between African and European states by expanding subsidised exchange programs for high school and university students, as well as professors;
    6. Requests the Member States to ease their migration requirements for people from Africa in order to incentivise people to refrain from illegally migrating to the EU;
    7. Further encourages the EU and the AU to ensure continuous dialogue through annual EU-AU summits;
    8. Recommends the Joint Research Center of the EU to assess the extent of Chinese influence in Africa;
    9. Calls upon the Directorate-General for Communication to develop awareness campaigns aimed at African citizens, highlighting the EU’s commitment to collaborative development and cultural preservation initiatives with Africa;
    10. Encourages Member States to conduct joint military training together with African nations to foster capabilities in combating terrorism and armed conflict in Africa.
  • ENVI

    ENVI

    Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI)

    By Jasmīna Bundule (LV)

    “There is No Planet B: With the devastating impacts of climate change becoming increasingly visible, the EU faces the challenge of reducing carbon emissions and transitioning towards sustainable energy sources. With the ambition to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, how can the EU accelerate the adoption of green technologies and encourage global cooperation to combat climate change?”

    Executive Summary

    The EU is committed to the task of increasing the use of sustainable energy in order to combat climate change, while ensuring their safety and affordability. The efforts to tackle climate change are important to the preservation of the environment as well as to the improvement of human life and health. There are multiple courses of action presently being taken by the EU in order to reach its main goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. Currently, the European Green Deal and the Renewable Energy Directive are the main avenues through which the EU is aiming to meet this target. States must ensure that the approach to tackling climate change is inclusive to different communities regardless of income, lifestyle or any other factors, since climate change disproportionately affects the more disadvantaged members of the society. The current issues raised by different people in Member States reflect this risk as many are worried about the future of jobs and prices with the push towards greener industries. 

    Introduction and Relevance of the Topic

    In 2019, the United Nations (UN) stated that we have a little over a decade left to prevent irreversible damage caused by climate change. Therefore, we must take action now. The only question that remains is: How can we stop the damage with the resources we have available? The international community and organisations such as the UN, the World Economic Forum and the EU have been taking an institutional approach and working towards combating climate change through diplomatic tools such as pacts, agreements, deals, among others, yet states do not seem to be committed enough beyond promises. The 2015 Paris Agreement 1is likely the most well-known of such climate change agreements, yet it has encountered some issues regarding compliance2 and target achievements. Nevertheless, its main goals were the basis for the European Green Deal, which includes the framework for most of the European industries for tackling climate change.The EU has since placed heavy emphasis on reducing carbon emissions mainly with the use of the EU Green Deal, but it has been met with a lot of backlash from several industries

    such as the mining sector or the fossil fuel industry, raising  questions about feasibility. Furthermore, there are also increasing numbers of unhappy industries which are negatively affected by policies and reforms that focus on reducing CO2 emissions. For example, the widespread farmers protests in Belgium, the Netherlands, or Germany were partially responding to the policies that aim to reduce emissions of harmful gases. The EU this finds itself in a challenge of likewise recognising the urgency of the climate crisis and act appropriately to tackle the rise of temperatures, while also taking into account industries such as the farming sector and ensuring their needs are met without compromising the environment. 

    Figure 1: Satire illustrating the problems state governments refer to when asked why not more is being done about climate change (Source: X; Memes Against Climate Change)

    Fundamental Challenges

    Setting targets

    One of the most prevalent problems has been inadequate target setting in regards to the tackling of the climate crisis. While some argue that there is a pressing need to set higher targets that will improve emissions and other climate related issues, others argue that the targets that were previously set and were somewhat less ambitious have not been met either way. The Climate Action Tracker (CAT) has concluded that the EU is currently insufficient in its reduction of emissions, where the main issue is the continued reliance on carbon capture and storage that makes use of fossil fuels. The current goal of 55% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and 90% reduction by 2040 compared to 1990, as laid out in the EU Green Deal, is one of the lowest within the range of 90-95%, as recommended by the Commission. In addition, the EU has failed to remain compliant to the National Determined Contributions (NDC) which ensures that states report on their progress to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC3). This places into question the commitment of the EU towards the most crucial climate ambitions.

    Climate justice

    The richest 10% of the population account for over half of global emissions” but are affected least by the consequences of climate change. The concept of climate justice refers to the inequalities around the effects of climate change and the effects of measures in order to reduce emissions. Climate justice places highest importance on those most at risk from climate inaction and argues for global warming solutions that also address injustice and inequality. The climate justice movement was pioneered and is currently led by the poorer and indigenous societies and social groups in the US and the Global South. Currently, the climate justice movement includes activists campaigning for industries and governments to recognise climate change as a social, economic and ethical issue. The EU has recognised climate justice as an issue and the European Economic and Social Council (EESC) has created a climate justice initiative which is the first step towards potential future action from the EU. Within this initiative the EESC calls for the EU Commission to draft a EU Bill of Climate Rights to state the rights of EU citizens in the light of the effects of climate change.

    Conflict between industries 

    While the tech industry is working in close cooperation with the EU to bring forth new developments that will reduce CO2 emissions, other industries are much more unhappy with the impact of attempting to mitigate climate change. The farming industry is the exemplar case of such problems, however, since farming is an industry where frequent unrest has been the norm since the Russian war on Ukraine and the Member States being heavily reliant on the farmers, the EU has made very few steps towards reducing CO2 emissions in the farming industry. This, however, is rather problematic since the farming industry is responsible for about 11% of all the greenhouse gases produced by the EU, while the OECD recommended number is 10%. Failure to enforce any legal climate-related requirements for the farming industry in the near future, is likely to affect the overall progress of the EU towards its climate goals. 

    Key Stakeholders

    • European Commission: The EU body responsible for proposing all policy and legislation, as well as ensuring the overall progress of the EU. The Commission proposed and created the EU Green Deal, as well as the Renewable Energy Directive and the REPowerEU plan.
    • DG CLIMA: The specific Directorate-General which leads the Commission in its work towards tackling climate change.
    • UNFCCC: The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change represents 198 countries. The UNFCCC secretariat ensures that climate action is taken by all member states and it is the organisation that oversaw the process of the 2015 Paris Agreement and the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.
    • Member States: All EU Member States have a duty to follow and abide by the goals set in the EU Green Deal due to its legally binding properties. Member States are also sometimes responsible for enforcing certain EU policies nationally, due to differences in secondary law such as, directives or recommendations.
    • European Environment Agency (EEA): Provides scientific information and assessments to support EU environmental policies, including those related to climate change.
    • European Economic and Social Council (EESC): Ensures that EU policies and legislation is in line with economic, social and civic circumstances by assisting the main EU bodies.
    • Businesses and Industry Associations: Various industries and business groups have interests in climate policies due to their potential impact on business operations and competitiveness.
    • Environmental NGOs: Non-governmental organisations advocating for environmental protection and climate action, often involved in policy advocacy and monitoring.
    • Citizens and Civil Society: Public engagement and activism play a crucial role in shaping climate policies, through advocacy, protests, and public awareness campaigns.
    • International Partners and Organisations: Collaboration with other countries and international organisations is essential for addressing global climate challenges, including through agreements like the Paris Agreement.

    Measures in Place

    The EU Green Deal, as proposed by the European Commission, has an overarching role in ensuring that Member States meet the targets that have been set to tackle climate change. The EU Green Deal includes legally binding targets that cover all key aspects of human life: Transport, health, industry etc. Solar and wind power have been deployed in increasing numbers when supplying electricity, as required by the EU Green Deal, leading to a price fall. As a result solar power has become more affordable for many people however, there are still some challenges regarding the household use of wind power. The Green Deal will also affect the manner in which goods are produced and consumed, helping to also address wider issues that concern the industries, such as costs and distribution of goods. 

    The REPowerEU plan is aimed at tackling the economic challenges that shifting towards renewable energy may pose. The plan was devised and launched in 2022, as a response to the Russian war on Ukraine, which caused heavy industrial and economic disruptions. The plan is comprehensive as it works from the very root of the problem, which concerns the need to diversify the overall energy supply, to the final goal – the full switch to renewable energy. Most crucially, it discusses the economic impact and future plan for financial distributions, which has been one of the most pressing questions in the ongoing debate about switching to renewable energy.

    The Renewable Energy Directive is the legal framework that develops strategies for providing clean energy to all sectors of the EU, while also promoting support and cooperation between the EU Member States in achieving its goals. The directive has existed since 2009 and has been revised multiple times since its creation, with the latest edition following the REPowerEU plan. The key figure of the revised directive proposes an overall renewable energy target of 42.5% binding at EU level by 2030, while aiming at 45%. 

    EU Emission Trading System (ETS) is known as the cap and trade system which intends to require polluters to pay for the excess greenhouse gas emissions to reduce the overall emission rates and pave the way for financing the steps within the EU Green Deal.

    Historical context 

    Climate change is a global problem and calls by nature for international cooperation. Such an institutionalised process has not only been slow, but has also been seen to fail repeatedly. The following timeline of climate conferences and agreements provides historical context to the matter:

    1990: The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its first climate assessment report, starting the global debate about greenhouse gas emissions and on international treaties regarding climate change. 

    1995: The first meeting of the UNFCCC Conference of Parties (COP 1) takes place in Berlin, Germany. 

    1997: After two years of formal negotiations, the Kyoto Protocol is agreed upon at COP 3 in Kyoto, Japan.

    2005: Kyoto Protocol enters into force.

    2009: No agreement is reached on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol at COP 15 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

    2015: A successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol is reached at COP 21 in Paris, France. It is known as the Paris Agreement.

    2020: Paris Agreement takes legal effect.

    However, while climate negotions often appear inneffective, the case of reducing the “hole in the ozone layer” for which the international community was relatively quick to react in the early 1980s exemplifies the importance and potential of such international cooperation. Thus, understanding the past of climate change negotiations is a helpful tool to assist us in evaluating the progress that has been made and that needs to be made in the near future. 

    Outlook

    Climate change has become a topic of high importance over the last years, it has made front-page news and the words “save the planet” can be spotted almost everywhere. It can appear that with the action protest groups are taking and the plans governments are proposing, the rest of society can take a step back and continue doing smaller actions such as recycling. While it is true that in large part it is in the hands of the industries and corporations to change their policies in order for any of the climate goals to be achieved, individuals can also participate beyond the small acts of change. The EU is built on democratic values, therefore the voice of the people should be the most important. We must remember that with enough voices from joining movements, parties and groups it is possible to act and work against the ticking clock of climate change, it is simply about the willingness and stance we choose to take. So think about what the future looks like. What do you see 50 years down the line? How can we ensure that climate change action does not increasingly disadvantage those who are already at a disadvantage? Is it possible to convince the farming industry to adapt to the efforts to save our planet at all? What additional steps could the EU do to achieve its own climate goals?

    Links for Further Research

    “The European Union’s Green Deal, Explained.” A comprehensive explanatory video about the ambitious EU plan. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gShVdPOp1D4

    1.  Adopted in 2015, the Paris agreement is an international treaty of legally binding nature. It aims to keep the increase of the global average temperature significantly below levels equivalent to two degrees celsius over pre-industrial levels. ↩︎
    2.  The act of obeying rules that control industry sectors. ↩︎
    3. The UNFCCC secretariat is a UN institution tasked with managing the global response to the threats of climate change ↩︎
  • AFET

    AFET

    by Júlia Peña Falcón (ES)

    Committee on Foreign Affairs

    “A Relationship in Crisis: While the EU faces difficulties in asserting influence in Africa, other countries’ impact continues to strive, as seen in projects like the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. However, African nations remain pivotal for the EU in addressing, amongst others, migration and economic interests. How can the EU fortify and rejuvenate its relationship with the continent?”

    Executive Summary

    In an era of global interconnectedness, the relationship between the European Union and Africa is crucial, influenced, among others, by historical legacies and contemporary challenges. 

    The EU faces the challenge of rising nationalism in its Member States, while engaging with Africa on issues like economic development, security, and climate change. Further challenges include competition with global powers like China, historical injustices, and migration dynamics. Key stakeholders like the European Commission, African Union, and European Investment Bank shape this relationship. 

    Measures such as the European Development Fund, EU-Africa Summits, and the European Agenda on Migration are in place to enhance collaboration. Nevertheless, there is still a lot to do in order to strengthen the EU’s relationship with Africa, and promote joint sustainable development, especially since the EU’s influence on the African continent appears to dwindle. 

    Introduction and Relevance of the Topic 

    In an era where global interconnectedness is indisputable, the relationship between the European Union and Africa is complex and multifaceted, with a history that spans centuries. Today, The EU’s engagement with the continent is more critical than ever as various challenges, ranging from migration, peace and governance, and climate change, become more prominent. Simultaneously, the EU faces internal issues of its own, such as rising nationalism, which halt the development of relations with African countries. The opposition to immigration is a big challenge, which undermines integration by creating tensions and hindering cooperation among nations and citizens, ultimately halting the development of Europe’s relations with Africa. 

    It is essential to explore how the EU can strengthen its partnership with Africa and address the challenges that lie ahead. The 21st century is expected to be dominated by the rise of the African continent in the world stage, making it imperative to reevaluate the EU’s role in shaping the future. 

    As the world grapples with the consequences of globalisation, the need for collaboration has become urgent. For instance, the combatting climate change cannot succeed without meaningful cooperation with African nations. Similarly, the EU’s commitment to promoting peace and stability across the globe necessitates robust engagement with African partners.

    Moreover, regarding economic growth the EU and Africa can mutually benefit from each other through the trade of goods and services, ensuring Europe’s security in its supply chains and improving Africa’s infrastructures. The EU is one of the biggest foreign investors in Africa, which underscores the importance of fostering mutually beneficial trade relationships. Yet, despite these compelling reasons for action, the path forward remains uncertain. The EU-Africa partnership is also influenced by geopolitical dynamics and competition among major international players like the US and China. These factors shape the context within which the EU engages with African nations calling for a nuanced understanding of the external pressures that impact their collaboration.

    Image 1: The New Scramble for Africa (Source: African Heritage). 

    Fundamental Challenges 

    Several fundamental challenges emerge in navigating the complex landscape of EU-Africa relations, that demand careful consideration and strategic solutions.

    Competition from China

    One of the primary challenges facing the EU is the competition it faces with global powers like China, which is particularly evident on the African continent in initiatives such as the Belt and Road Initiative1. This competition for influence highlights the need for the EU to define its unique role in Africa amidst growing external pressures. According to the Afrobarometer, 59 % of responders believe that China’s economic and political influence in the Continent is positive, compared to 46 % regarding political influence from former European colonial powers.

    Self-determination and autonomy

    Self-determination and autonomy are also a big concern among African nations, with the Afrobarometer highlighting that 55 % of Africans believe that foreign leaders should allow African governments to make their own decisions on how to make use of their resources, rather than imposing European values and frameworks. Africa has plenty of natural resources (such as minerals), as well as a big potential for renewable energies. Furthermore, historical legacies of colonialism and exploitation continue to influence and shape interactions between the EU and African nations. Overcoming these historical barriers necessitates an approach which acknowledges past injustices, and focuses on building a partnership based on mutual commitments, equality and respect for sovereignty partnership.

    Migration

    Migration emerges as another critical challenge, with the EU grappling with managing illegal migration flows from Africa  stained political and social dynamics within Member States. Misconceptions surrounding African migration amongst European citizens have led to increased resentment towards migrants, something that can have implications in Member States’ policies. Furthermore, African migration is a phenomenon that is expected to remain dynamic, with an increasing trend over the past two decades that is expected to continue to continue in the next few years. The challenge lies in the need to enhance legal migration pathways between continents, in order to foster improved inter-continental relations. Furthermore, the absence of robust cultural and knowledge exchange  presents an obstacle to fortifying not just diplomatic but social bonds among inhabitants, as well as a more inclusive and welcoming society.

    Key Stakeholders

    • European Commission: The European Commission plays a crucial role in shaping the EU’s external relations policies, and it has power to propose legislation, negotiate trade agreements and allocate funding for development projects. To fortify its relationship with Africa, the European Commission can focus on enhancing development aid, promoting sustainable investments, and fostering dialogue on shared challenges like migration.
    • European External Action Service (EEAS): The EEAS is the diplomatic arm of the EU, responsible for implementing the EU’s foreign and security policies and representing the EU in international forums, including engagements with African partners. 
    • Member States: Each Member State has its own national interest and historical ties with African countries, which influence their approach to diplomacy and cooperation  with the continent. They can engage in bilateral cooperation, development assistance and security partnerships with Africa. They play a significant role in shaping the EU’s foreign policy, together with adapting their national policies to support joint initiatives and coordinated sustainable  development.
    • African Union (AU): The AU is an international organisation representing African nations collectively and shaping continental policies. It has competences in peace and security, together with economic integration and development cooperation across the continent. The AU’s interests include promoting African unity, addressing common challenges like migration, and enhancing cooperation with external partners like the EU.
    • African States: African States naturally play a pivotal role in shaping EU-Africa relations. The capacity and willingness of these independent States to cooperate will largely determine the AU’s future. Currently, the Sub-Saharian Africa region is facing serious challenges, most notably civil wars (in States like the Central African Republic, Somalia and South Sudan). Northern Africa, in contrast, is mostly being challenged by repressive governments and struggling economies (for instance, countries like Egypt, Libya and Tunisia). Each State has its own national interest and acts independently accordingly to it.
    • European Investment Bank (EIB): The European Investment Bank is the lending institution of the EU that provides financing for projects within the EU and beyond. The EIB supports infrastructure development, private sector investments, and sustainable development initiatives in African countries. Its interests include promoting economic growth, job creation, climate action projects, and fostering sustainable investments.

    Measures in Place 

    The topic of EU-Africa relations falls under the framework of the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the European Neighbourhood Policy. The EU has the authority to negotiate agreements, provide development assistance, and coordinate its foreign policy towards Africa through various institutions and mechanisms. Prominent current legislative frameworks and initiatives are:

    European Development Fund (EDF): 

    The EDF is the EU’s main tool for financing development aid abroad. It is the main source of European funding for countries under the Cotonou agreement2. After its expiration, the Samoa agreement was signed in November 2023, which lays down its key common principles and covers the following six priority areas: democracy and human rights, sustainable economic growth and development, climate change, human and social development, peace and security, and migration and mobility. The EDF is in charge of financing any project or programme that contributes to development in African, Caribbean or Pacific countries, through grants, loans and investment.  

    EU-Africa Summits: 

    Regular summits between the EU and African Union provide a platform for high-level dialogue on issues of mutual interest, including trade, security, migration, and sustainable development.
    In the 2007 Lisbon Summit, the Africa-EU Joint Strategy (JAES) and Action Plan were adopted. The JAES reflected the wider integration processes in both regions, as well as geopolitical changes occurring in the international sphere. This partnership is one of the most productive, and has produced concrete outcomes in the areas of peace and security, migration, climate change, and regional integration.
    However, these results have been somewhat limited given the difficulty to effectuate high-level dialogue between the EU and AU, especially in matters such as migration and global governance. One of the biggest drawbacks from this strategy was the inability to establish a ​​Joint Annual Forum3 between the two international organisations.
    Nevertheless, summits between the two institutions have been ongoing since 2007, with the sixth EU-AU summit taking place in 2022. During its course, African and European leaders set forth an Africa-Europe Investment package of €150 billion, which will support the common goal of the 2030 and the 2063 AU Agenda. This investment package will support the building of more resilient and sustainable economies. Its main aims include energy and digital transition, job creation, transport facilitation and improving health and education.

    European Agenda on Migration: 

    The EU has adopted a comprehensive approach to migration management, including initiatives such as the Migration Partnership Framework with African countries to address root causes of illegal migration and enhance cooperation on border control and return policies. Within this agenda, the European Commission launched the “Emergency Trust Fund” for stability and addressing root causes for illegal migration and displaced persons in Africa”, made up of €1.8 billion. Its aim is to support the fostering of stability and contribute to better management of migration, through addressing root issues that prompt migration by promoting economic and equal opportunities, security and development.

    Global Gateway Initiative (GGI):

    The GGI is a EU strategic effort to invest in infrastructure development and improve the connectivity between Europe and the rest of the world. It aims to boost smart, clean and secure connections in the digital, energy and transport sectors, as well as to strengthen health, education and research globally. Contrary to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the GGI holds sustainability as a key element in the development of infrastructure. The GGI prominently charts the path forward for a stronger EU-Africa partnership. The GGI plans to mobilise up to €300 billion by 2027, in order to reach EU’s commitment to narrowing the global infrastructure gap, supporting sustainable projects and complying with the UN 2030 Agenda. 

    Historical context 

    When examining the EU’s relationship with Africa, historical context is crucial. The EU’s colonial past in Africa has a direct influence on today’s dynamics, as colonial legacies impact economic ties, migration policies and power struggles. Formal colonies continue to struggle with poverty, conflict and underdevelopment, which ultimately places these regions in disadvantage when engaging in international relations. Colonialism did not allow for industrialisation in Africa, since the continent’s role was limited to the production of primary materials. Furthermore, colonial powers created vicious cycles of violence, authoritarianism and poverty through the exploitation of resources of the African continent, which can still be perceived today

    The challenge for European-African relations is to evolve beyond a sense of pity and remorse, and to acquire a profound understanding of Africa’s equal role in international affairs to prevent neocolonialism. Reflecting on historical missteps like colonialism can guide the EU to engage in more collaborative and respectful interactions. 

    School of Thoughts 

    There are different theories in the International Relations (IR) doctrine that help us understand why states collaborate or do not collaborate with each other by offering us specific world views through different lenses. When analysing how international cooperation can be enhanced, it is interesting to keep these different approaches in mind, as they can help us better understand the different perspectives of what drives international relations and why states behave the way they do. Such include, among others:

    Liberalism: Liberalism is often referred to as an ‘utopian’ theory, as it proposes the view that humans are intrinsically good and believe peace and harmony between nations is achievable and desirable. They believe states can work together to maximise the common interest and benefit, and that international cooperation through institutions is effective to foster common peace and security. Thus, this perspective would highlight cooperation leading to mutual benefit for the EU and Africa when addressing challenges such as migration and economic development.

    Realism: Realists view states as the primary actor in international affairs, over international organisations. They argue that states are mostly concerned with their own security, power and national interests. Therefore, from a realist perspective, international cooperation exists to the extent that states put their own concerns and interests first, since this theory perceives nations to exist in competition with one another, rather than collaboration. 

    Postcolonialism: Postcolonialism focuses on the inequality between nations or regions, as opposed to classes. The effects of colonialism are still present in many regions of the world, and many populations continue to struggle with challenges left behind by formal colonial powers. Postcolonialism examines how governments in former colonies experience international relations, and highlights how Western power marginalises the non-Western world. This theory foregrounds power dynamics and historical context that underlie  interactions between former colonised and colonising countries. 

    Outlook 

    As we ponder the future of EU-Africa relations, a multitude of questions arise. In order to strengthen the ties between Africa and the EU, we must consider how to face and address the competition from global powers like China, that are increasingly engaging with Africa? What strategies can be employed to build trust with African nations and overcome historical legacies of colonialism and exploitation, in order to enhance relations between the continents? Is expanding legal migration pathways between continents a viable approach for improving inter-continental relations? When it comes to the citizens of both continents, would fostering cultural and knowledge exchange improve social ties? What methods could be implemented to enhance the connection between citizens in the continents? Furthermore, balancing national interests with supporting joint initiatives and sustainable development in Africa poses a challenge; how can the EU navigate this effectively? And finally, navigating power dynamics to foster a more balanced relationship with African nations, while avoiding neocolonialism, requires strategic thinking. What approaches should the EU consider to cultivate a harmonious partnership?

    Links for Further Research 

    1.   Belt and Road Initiative:  Infrastructure project foreseeing great Chinese foreign investments, aiming  to develop two new trade routes connecting China with the rest of the world, as well as to expand the nation’s economic and political power. ↩︎
    2.  The Cotonou Agreement (valid until 2023) was a treaty that, through the EDF, aimed to reduce and eventually eradicate poverty and contribute to the gradual integration of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries into the world economy. It was based on three pillars of cooperation: development, economy and politics, and three main areas of activity: development, migration and trade. ↩︎
    3. A Joint Annual Forum has still not been implemented due to divergent ideas between the AU and the EU on how it should be carried out, but its aims to establish yearly meetings between the EU and the AU to assess the progress made in accordance to the implementation of the JAES. ↩︎
  • AFCO

    AFCO

    Committee on Constitutional Affairs

    By Amélie Pasmanns (DE)

    “Radical Right Challenges to Europe’s Cohesion: The latest elections and polls in different Member States have revealed a rise in the political representation of far-right ideologies, which openly call for the dissolution of the EU or repeatedly undermine its values as outlined in the Treaty on European Union. With euroscepticism on the rise, what can the EU do to foster support for its mission and institutions, and strengthen European stability and democracy?”

    Executive Summary 

    Right-wing parties have been on the rise in many EU Member States and in the European Parliament itself. Possible reasons for citizens to vote in favour of far-right parties are, among others, a lack of trust in current governments, a feeling of being left behind socially and economically, and using minorities and immigrants as scapegoats for current problems. The main challenges of this topic are changing citizens’ attitudes towards the EU and making sure they do not fall for right-wing mobilisation strategies. Moreover, the rural-urban divide and online extremism need to be tackled. While the EU can act to protect its main values of democracy and human rights, Member States are primarily responsible for ensuring that their parties are adhering to EU values of non-discrimination and inclusion. How can the EU protect its core values and ensure that euroscepticism does not continue growing?

    Introduction and Relevance of the Topic

    Right wing parties in EU Member States and within the European Parliament itself have been on the rise during the last decade. For example, in November of 2023, the Dutch far-right populist party ‘Partij voor de vrijheid’ (PVV) received the most votes out of all parties, gaining 23.7%. However, this phenomenon is not geographically bound to single Member States, but rather a EU-wide problem (see Figure 1 below). With the upcoming European elections in June 2024 this shift to the right could fundamentally shape the EU of tomorrow. 

    The term ‘far-right’ is an umbrella term for right wing ideologies such as anti-democracy and right extremism. They are characterised by nativism1 and authoritarianism2, leading to a hierarchical society that excludes minority groups such as the LGBTQ+ community and is openly racist, sexist, and anti-immigration. The term ‘far-right’ moreover includes both the extreme and radical right. The extreme right rejects the basis of democracy, such as the majority rule, while the radical right rejects basic features of democracy such as pluralism3 and minority rights. While nationalist claims and euroscepticism are a cornerstone of radical right parties (RRPs), they also tend to unite in pan-European alliances despite their euroscepticism. This idea of a common European identity is often fueled by notions of racial superiority and colonialism. This ‘Euronationalism4’ is a further breeding ground for anti-migration and anti-globalisation arguments. 

    Eurosceptic parties can roughly be divided into ‘hard’ and ‘soft’. Hard eurosceptic parties are opposed to the entire European project, while soft eurosceptic parties are only concerned about certain parts of European integration. Examples for hard eurosceptic parties include the PVV in the Netherlands and the ‘Alternative für Deutschland’ (AfD) in Germany. Examples of soft eurosceptic parties are Fidesz in Hungary and Vox in Spain. 

    The reasons why people decide to vote for far-right parties are diverse. Possible motivations include fear of social change and diversification of society. For example, fear of economic and cultural change due to migration also plays a role in voting for right-winged parties. This trend is most notable in older populations and those with lower education levels and low social mobility. Understanding these diverse motivations for voting for far-right parties helps to identify fundamental challenges posed by the intersection of socio-economic factors with political ideologies and societal dynamics.

    Figure 1: Overview of votes gained by right-wing parties in Europe (2023).

    Fundamental Challenges

    The current state of the EU has often been described as one of ‘permacrisis’ meaning that the EU is constantly facing challenges and citizens continuously have to adapt to new norms. This section highlights some of the main challenges of this topic, however, many more challenges could be identified in the individual Member States. 

    Attitude of citizens towards the EU

    In order to effectively tackle challenges, the EU needs the trust and  support of its citizens. The citizens’ attitudes towards the EU is crucial for shaping EU politics and active citizenship. Notable differences exist between the far right and the centre. According to a 2023 study, 33% of citizens with a far right ideology had a positive attitude towards the EU in comparison to 45% of citizens with centre ideologies. 32% of citizens with a far right ideology had an outspoken negative attitude towards the EU and 35% positioned themselves as neutral. 

    Regional development traps 5

    As the divide between rural and urban areas grows, rural places often feel left behind, increasing threats to trust in democracy and social cohesion. Rural areas often have a lower standard of living, lower income rates, and less employment opportunities. This leads to less support for the EU, more discontent, and increased anti-EU sentiments. Far-right political movements then make use of these sentiments to get voters to support their anti-EU narratives

    Rise of RRPs within the European Parliament

    Simultaneous to the increased voting rates in Member State governments, RRPs are also gaining influence in the European Parliament. The Euroscepticism of these parties can for example lead to critical views on EU enlargement. The opposition to enlargement is often rooted in racist identity-related concerns about non-EU Member States. Having those views voiced within the European Parliament increases the normalisation of xenophobic and racist statements, leading to a desensitisation. In terms of transnational cooperation, RRPs face some natural difficulties with formulating common goals, nevertheless, they show willingness to combine their efforts and increase their strength

    Reaching target populations

    Nowadays, right-wing extremism is not confined to a certain social group anymore. Thus, it can be difficult to define and reach target groups for interventions. 

    Online extremism and cross border cooperation 

    Today’s interactive use of the Internet enables RRPs and right-wing extremists to connect from regional to global scales, creating new means to recruit sympathists. Online platforms are used to exchange tactics and know-how, leading to a further spread of far-right rethorics to diverse social groups. This international connection calls for cross border cooperation to combat the spread of extremism. However, most analyses are currently done on a national level and European coordination and cooperation are largely missing. 

    Key Stakeholders 

    • Member States: The EU Member States are primarily responsible for implementing and applying EU law correctly. This means that in case parties act against EU laws, the Member States and their national courts need to take care of them. 
    • European Parliament: As the parliament is directly elected by EU citizens, it has to deal with RRPs being included in its ranks. Any statements or actions that are against EU laws need to be sanctioned or lead to expulsion of members. 
    • European Commision: The Commission is responsible to monitor the adherence of Member States to EU treaties. It has to make sure that EU law is respected in all Member States. Moreover, the Commission can start projects such as ‘Europe for Citizens’ that work against euroscepticism. 
    • Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU): The CJEU can decide how to sanction Member States who undermine EU law and values.  
    • RRPs: As the existence of RRPs cannot be ignored, they need to be closely monitored by Member States and the Commission in order to make sure they operate within legal limits of European democracy. 
    • EU citizens: As EU citizens influence both national and EU politics through voting and civil society engagements, their attitude and opinions on the EU and RRPs are crucial. This can for example be seen in the recent mass protest against right wing parties in Germany. 
    • Social media platforms: Right-wing players often use a variety of online outlets such as encrypted chat apps,  social networking sites, and unmoderated message boards to communicate, but also to harass their targets and opponents. Social media is often used to spread false information and to make the right-wing views more normalised in the general population. Factual information on RRPs is crucial to offer citizens an unbiased view of the political landscape. 

    Measures in Place

    Measures on EU level

    There are two EU treaties commonly referred to as the primary law of the EU, namely the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). While the TEU contains general provisions of the EU, the TFEU is concerned with specific rules regarding EU institutions and policies. 

    As outlined in Article 2 of the TEU, the EU is founded on the principles of human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights. This also includes the rights of minorities and is further highlighted in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. As RRPs may endanger human rights for minorities such as immigrants, the EU needs to ensure that all Member States adhere to the aforementioned values. To do this, Article 7 of the TEU offers tools to sanction breaches of EU values such as taking away voting rights in the Council. This gives the EU power to infer in areas otherwise left to Member States in case of ‘serious and persistent breaches’. 

    Article 258 of the TFEU states that the Commission can bring Member States to the CJEU if they fail to fulfil their obligations as defined by the treaties. As the Commission is the guardian of EU treaties, it can propose sanctions in case that Member States do not comply with them. However, the CJEU ultimately decides which penalties will be imposed

    Other instruments for the protection of EU values include the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), established in 2007, which tracks fundamental rights in the EU and publishes annual reports. Moreover, the Commission has strengthened the protection of minorities by implementing strategies and actions to combat racism, hate crimes and anti-semitism under the concept of the ‘Union of Equality’. Additionally, the EU’s Digital Service Act (DSA) aids in regulating online spaces including social networks. The key goals of the DSA are a better protection of fundamental rights for EU citizens and more protection from illegal content online, for example by decreasing manipulation and disinformation.  

    Measure on Member State level

    The regulations on right-wing extremism and RRPs are different in the EU Member States. Some mention it in their constitutions, others focus on criminalising behaviour connected to right-wing extremism. Legislation in Member States revolves around targeting ideologies such as Nazism and facism, criminal law, and law regarding registration and dissolution of right-wing organisations and parties. Non-legislative responses such as civil society institutions are also important in responding to right-wing extremism. History and politics suggest that there is no one solution to this problem, but that it rather should be dealt with on a context-specific basis for each Member State. 

    Right wing strategies

    In this section, three main strategies of mobilisation for far-right extremists are highlighted, namely making use of social issues, making other politics seem corrupt, and propagating national identity. This may help you to understand why RRPs are gaining influence in the EU. 

    1. Right wing extremism as a result of of crisis 

    By targeting people who are going through economic or social changes, RRPs make use of fear surrounding loss of labour, income, and social prestige. They position themselves as supporters of the common people who are the victims of globalised processes and governments in power.

    1. Right wing extremism as a result of political representation 

    RRPs often presented themselves as the true voice of society, representing the ‘man in the street’. They frame those in power as being the representatives of the elite, using people’s frustration with the status quo to gain votes. This strategy is called ‘populism’. 

    1. Right wing extremism as a result of identity crises 

    With the goal of an ethnically homogenous society in mind, RRPs cling to the idea of national identity, alienating anyone who does not fit the standard in their opinion. They use those ‘others’ as scapegoats for societal and individual problems.  

    Local Shifts and Influences on the EU

    As mentioned in the introduction, the Netherlands have recently seen a shift to the right in their November 2023 elections. This does not come as a surprise, as other EU Member States such as Hungary, Italy, and Slovakia also have eurosceptic parties in power. To understand why many Dutch people voted for the PVV, their interaction with the other parties are important. The last leading party ‘Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie’ (VVD) considered a coalition with the PVV, signalling the legitimacy of their anti-EU and other discriminatory opinions. Due to the increase in votes for PVV and other right-wing parties, a fully right-wing coalition for government is now possible. If this coalition was to actually come about, the Dutch foreign policy and stance on the EU would be shaped by xenophobic and anti-islam views. Keeping in mind that the Netherlands are not the only right-wing-led Member State, the EU might be forced to scale back policies on issues including among others migration, climate protection, and the support for Ukraine. This shows how local changes in government may affect the entirety of Europe. 

    Outlook 

    As this topic is very nuanced and has varying impacts on the different Member States, can you think of an example of right-wing euroscepticism in your country? What happened and how did it affect you and those around you? 

    Looking at current challenges with RRPs and a general lack of trust in the EU, how can the EU work on increasing citizens’ contentment with the EU and avoid them falling for right-wing mobilisation strategies

    Links for Further Research 

    1.  Nativism is xenophobic nationalism with the goal of establishing a homogeneous nation state. ↩︎
    2.  Authoritarianism is the belief that a state should have very strict laws and infringements of those should be punished harshly. ↩︎
    3. Pluralism is the notion that in a state with diverse social groups different cultures and interests are developed within the confines of common civilization.   ↩︎
    4.  Euronationalism is the notion that particular markers such as ethnicity or skin colour can distinguish ‘real’ Europeans from ‘others’. ↩︎
    5.  Regional development traps can be defined as regions that face structural challenges hindering economic development, leading to a cycle of poverty and inequity. ↩︎
  • ENVI

    ENVI

    MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION BY THE COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT, PUBLIC HEALTH AND FOOD SAFETY (ENVI)

    Sustainable Symphony of Souls: The EU aims to be climate-neutral by 2050, which necessitates a range of strategies for climate action. Given that low-income communities are often disproportionately affected by climate change, how can the EU develop climate-related policies that ensure the equitable inclusion of people with lower incomes?

    Submitted by: Hawkeye Martinez Madrid, Madelief Oosterveld, Sophie Prins, Elise de Vries and Gabriela Rutkowska (PL, Chairperson), 

    The European Youth Parliament aims to achieve full inclusivity by including lower-income communities in legislative procedures addressing climate change prevention. It also aims to protect them from the possible consequences of climate change. It further aims to ensure proper awareness of the topic among both the vulnerable groups as well as those in power by educating them on the issue,

    because

    • Current measures taken by national governments are related to rising costs and impact financially lower-income households, limiting their fundamental rights, such as free movement within the European community,
    • Low-income communities lack representation in shaping climate-related policies,
    • Political parties and groups that have the majority of power are not taking into consideration the inclusivity aspect of creating a climate-friendly future,
    • Access to technology and the internet within the EU is still limited in certain regions, thus some people do not have access to climate-related information, resources and updates,
    • Climate policies and rising temperatures caused by global warming are affecting certain industries leading to potential job losses, especially among outdoor workers,
    • The European Green Deal does not specifically mention the issue of climate change affecting low-income communities or possible solutions to that issue.

    by

    1. Urges the European Commission to revise the European Green Deal to safeguard socio-economically disadvantaged communities against the impacts of climate change;
    2. Encourages the European Commission to support local environmental efforts that are focused on intersectionality by creating a dedicated fund for green initiatives;
    3. Requests Member States to equip their lower-income populations with essential tools for natural disaster warnings, prevention, and response, including technologies like Starlink satellite dishes, ensuring reliable connectivity with disaster prevention centres;
    4. Calls upon Member States to ensure that the most socioeconomically disadvantaged groups are represented in political decision-making by incorporating them into civic engagement programs; 
    5. Calls upon Member States to raise awareness among the general population about the challenges faced by lower-income communities, aiming for their inclusion in climate-related civic discussions through 
      • the enhancement of secondary education curricula and 
      • the organisation of activities at community centres.