Environment and Climate

In 1957, when the EEC was founded, it had no environmental policy. Over the past 50 years, an increasingly dense network of legislation has been created, extending to all areas of environmental protection, including air pollution, water quality, waste management, nature conservation, and the control of chemicals, industrial hazards, and biotechnology. According to the Institute for European Environmental Policy, environmental law comprises over 500 Directives, Regulations and Decisions, making environmental policy a core area of European politics.

European policy-makers originally increased the EU’s capacity to act on environmental issues by defining it as a trade problem. Trade barriers and competitive distortions in the Common Market could emerge due to the different environmental standards in each member state. In subsequent years, the environment became a formal policy area, with its own policy actors, principles and procedures. The legal basis for EU environmental policy was established with the introduction of the Single European Act in 1987.

Initially, EU environmental policy focused on Europe. More recently, the EU has demonstrated leadership in global environmental governance, e.g. the role of the EU in securing the ratification and coming into force of the Kyoto Protocol despite opposition from the United States. This international dimension is reflected in the EU’s Sixth Environmental Action Programme, which recognises that its objectives can only be achieved if key international agreements are actively supported and properly implemented both at EU level and worldwide. The Lisbon Treaty further strengthened the leadership ambitions. EU law has played a significant role in improving habitat and species protection in Europe, as well as contributing to improvements in air and water quality and waste management.

Mitigating climate change is one of the top priorities of EU environmental policy. In 2007, member states agreed that, in the future, 20% of the energy used across the EU must be renewable, and carbon dioxide emissions have to be lower in 2020 by at least 20% compared to 1990 levels. The EU has adopted an emissions trading system to incorporate carbon emissions into the economy. The European Green Capital is an annual award given to cities that focuses on the environment, energy efficiency, and quality of life in urban areas to create smart city.

In the Elections to the European Parliament in 2019, the green parties increased their power, possibly because of the rise of post materialist values.

Proposals to reach a zero carbon economy in the European Union by 2050 were suggested in 2018 – 2019. Almost all member states supported that goal at an EU summit in June 2019. The Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, and Poland disagreed.

Source: Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union#Environment_and_Climate (10.01.2020)

Summer Activities With Kids In Brisighella

As an international volunteer in Faenza, I have the chance to participate in very interesting and different activities. Now, when everything related to the COVID-19 has become to change, we can continue with our activities. Of course we still have to be careful and responsible: hold the distance and wear a mask, but I’m happy that the life has gradually becoming back to normal again.

The beginning of summer brought new experiences in new environments. Although I am the volunteer og S.E.M.I. – Seeds For More Interculture, we also collaborate with other organisations. One of them is PiGreco Apprendimento. So during the last few weeks I have been in Brisighella to help the local instructor with the activities for kids. We have about 6-7 children who have enrolled to this summer camp. That’s not a big group, but it’s even better, since in this way more personal approach is possible.

Every morning I travel from Faenza to Brisighella. The day is divided into different parts. We begin with a short gymnastics to stretch our body and to wake up, although the children don’t really like it. Then we sometimes have some activities, like inventing a story or writing down the vocabulary or describing our weekend in English. After that we have a bit of time to do the homework. That is interesting, because in my country, children never have to do homework during summer. Of course this year is also a bit different because of the coronavirus, but it’s still quite strange to me. On the other hand, we don’t spend for hours studying there, but only about half an hour, which is good, because the kids can study a little bit, but they can also play and enjoy the summer. I usually help them with English. When nobody has English homework, then I usually bring my own Italian book with me and I can study Italian myself and the kids can also try to help me, which is quite fun.

After homework we usually have some creative activities, such as picking herbs and putting them into a jar, building a castle, colouring the stones or self-made mini sculptures, etc. When it’s very hot we go to the river and the children can play there or we go to the park to play football.

These weeks have been super amazing, the kids are wonderful and the activities we do are so creative and interesting. I have really enjoyed working with these children and I hope that they have also learned something from me.

Telecommunications and Space

The Galileo positioning system is another EU infrastructure project. Galileo is a proposed Satellite navigation system, to be built by the EU and launched by the European Space Agency (ESA). The Galileo project was launched partly to reduce the EU’s dependency on the US-operated Global Positioning System, but also to give more complete global coverage and allow for greater accuracy, given the aged nature of the GPS system.

Governmental Satellite Communications (GovSatcom)

Satellite Communications (SatCom) are critical elements for defence, security, humanitarian aid, emergency response or diplomatic communications. They are a key enabler for civil missions and military missions/operations in particular in remote and austere environments with little or no infrastructure. Governmental Satellite Communications (GOVSATCOM) has been defined as one of the four capability development programmes by the European Council in December 2013. The mandate was given to prepare the next generation of satellite communication (2025 timeframe).

Start Date:2013
End Date:n/a
Participating Members:AT, BE, DE, EE, EL, ES, FR, IT, LT, LU, LV, PL, PT, SE, UK, NO, ATHENA MECHANISM
Other stakeholders:European External Action Service, European Commission, European Space Agency

Project goals

* Demonstrate the benefits of a European dual-use approach for the development of such capability.

* Provide EDA Member States and European CSDP actors with access to a GOVSATCOM capability, based on existing, pooled and governmental SatCom resources.

* Demonstrate the benefits of a Pooling and Sharing collaborative model.

Sources:

Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union#Telecommunications_and_Space (10.01.2020)

European Defence Agency, https://www.eda.europa.eu/what-we-do/activities/activities-search/governmental-satellite-communications-(govsatcom) (17.01.2020)

Religion in EU

The EU has no formal connection to any religion. The preamble to the Treaty on European Union mentions the “cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe”. Discussion over the draft texts of the European Constitution and later the Treaty of Lisbon included proposals to mention Christianity or a god, or both, in the preamble of the text, but the idea faced opposition and was dropped.

Christians in the European Union are divided among members of Catholicism (both Roman and Eastern Rite), numerous Protestant denominations (Anglicans, Lutherans, and Reformed forming the bulk of this category), and the Eastern Orthodox Church. In 2009, the EU had an estimated Muslim population of 13 million, and an estimated Jewish population of over a million. The other world religions of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Sikhism are also represented in the EU population.

Photo: https://pixabay.com/it/illustrations/religione-ges%C3%B9-battesimo-fede-1976784/

According to new polls about religiosity in the European Union in 2015 by Eurobarometer, Christianity is the largest religion in the European Union. Catholics are the largest Christian group, accounting for 45.3% of the EU population, while Protestants make up 11.1%, Eastern Orthodox make up 9.6%, and other Christians make up 5.6%.

Affiliation% of EU population
Christian71.6
Catholic45.3
Protestant11.1
Eastern Orthodox9.6
Other Christian5.6
Muslim1.8
Other faiths2.6
Irreligious24
Non-believer/Agnostic13.6
Atheist10.4
Wikipedia, Religious affiliation in the European Union (2015)


Eurostat’s Eurobarometer opinion polls showed in 2005 that 52% of EU citizens believed in a god, 27% in “some sort of spirit or life force”, and 18% had no form of belief.

Many countries have experienced falling church attendance and membership in recent years. The countries where the fewest people reported a religious belief were Estonia (16%) and the Czech Republic (19%).The most religious countries were Malta (95%, predominantly Roman Catholic) as well as Cyprus and Romania (both predominantly Orthodox) each with about 90% of citizens professing a belief in their respective god.

Across the EU, belief was higher among women, older people, those with religious upbringing, those who left school at 15 or 16, and those “positioning themselves on the right of the political scale”.

Source: Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union#Religion (10.01.2020)

Foreign relations

Foreign policy co-operation between member states dates from the establishment of the Community in 1957, when member states negotiated as a bloc in international trade negotiations under the EU’s common commercial policy. Steps for a more wide-ranging co-ordination in foreign relations began in 1970 with the establishment of European Political Cooperation which created an informal consultation process between member states with the aim of forming common foreign policies. In 1987 the European Political Cooperation was introduced on a formal basis by the Single European Act. EPC was renamed as the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) by the Maastricht Treaty.

The aims of the CFSP are to promote both the EU’s own interests and those of the international community as a whole, including the furtherance of international co-operation, respect for human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. The CFSP requires unanimity among the member states on the appropriate policy to follow on any particular issue. The unanimity and difficult issues treated under the CFSP sometimes lead to disagreements, such as those which occurred over the war in Iraq.

The coordinator and representative of the CFSP within the EU is the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy who speaks on behalf of the EU in foreign policy and defence matters, and has the task of articulating the positions expressed by the member states on these fields of policy into a common alignment. The High Representative heads up the European External Action Service (EEAS), a unique EU department that has been officially implemented and operational since 1 December 2010 on the occasion of the first anniversary of the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon. The EEAS will serve as a foreign ministry and diplomatic corps for the European Union.

Source

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union#Foreign_relations (23.12.2019)

Home affairs and Migration

Since the creation of the EU in 1993, it has developed its competencies in the area of justice and home affairs; initially at an intergovernmental level and later by supranationalism. Accordingly, the Union has legislated in areas such as extradition, family law, asylum law, and criminal justice. Prohibitions against sexual and nationality discrimination have a long standing in the treaties. In more recent years, these have been supplemented by powers to legislate against discrimination based on race, religion, disability, age, and sexual orientation. By virtue of these powers, the EU has enacted legislation on sexual discrimination in the work-place, age discrimination, and racial discrimination.

Photo: https://pixabay.com/it/photos/discriminazione-fico-paura-mondo-4731780/

The Union has also established agencies to co-ordinate police, prosecutorial and immigrations controls across the member states: Europol for co-operation of police forces, Eurojust for co-operation between prosecutors, and Frontex for co-operation between border control authorities. The EU also operates the Schengen Information System which provides a common database for police and immigration authorities. This co-operation had to particularly be developed with the advent of open borders through the Schengen Agreement and the associated cross border crime.

Source

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union#Legal_system_and_Justice (23.12.2019)

Legal system and Justice

The EU is based on a series of treaties. These first established the European Community and the EU, and then made amendments to those founding treaties. These are power-giving treaties which set broad policy goals and establish institutions with the necessary legal powers to implement those goals. These legal powers include the ability to enact legislation which can directly affect all member states and their inhabitants. The EU has legal personality, with the right to sign agreements and international treaties.

Under the principle of supremacy, national courts are required to enforce the treaties that their member states have ratified, and thus the laws enacted under them, even if doing so requires them to ignore conflicting national law, and (within limits) even constitutional provisions.

The direct effect and supremacy doctrines were not explicitly set out the European Treaties but were developed by the Court of Justice itself over the 1960s, apparently under the influence of its then most influential judge, Frenchman Robert Lecourt.

Courts of Justice

The judicial branch of the EU—formally called the Court of Justice of the European Union—consists of two courts: the Court of Justice and the General Court The Court of Justice primarily deals with cases taken by member states, the institutions, and cases referred to it by the courts of member states. Because of the doctrines of direct effect and supremacy, many judgments of the Court of Justice are automatically applicable within the internal legal orders of the member states.

Photo: https://www.needpix.com/photo/download/1128823/justice-right-legal-lawyer-word-letters-law-free-pictures-free-photos

The General Court mainly deals with cases taken by individuals and companies directly before the EU’s courts, and the European Union Civil Service Tribunal adjudicates in disputes between the European Union and its civil service. Decisions from the General Court can be appealed to the Court of Justice but only on a point of law.

Fundamental rights

The treaties declare that the EU itself is “founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities … in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail.”

In 2009, the Lisbon Treaty gave legal effect to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The charter is a codified catalogue of fundamental rights against which the EU’s legal acts can be judged. It consolidates many rights which were previously recognised by the Court of Justice and derived from the “constitutional traditions common to the member states.” The Court of Justice has long recognised fundamental rights and has, on occasion, invalidated EU legislation based on its failure to adhere to those fundamental rights.

Signing the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is a condition for EU membership previously, the EU itself could not accede to the Convention as it is neither a state nor had the competence to accede. The Lisbon Treaty and Protocol 14 to the ECHR have changed this: the former binds the EU to accede to the Convention while the latter formally permits it.

Photo: https://pixabay.com/it/illustrations/destra-diritti-umani-umano-le-mani-597133/

The EU is independent from the Council of Europe and they share purpose and ideas especially on rule of law, human rights and democracy. Further European Convention on Human Rights and European Social Charter, the source of law of Charter of Fundamental Rights are created by Council of Europe. The EU also promoted human rights issues in the wider world. The EU opposes the death penalty and has proposed its worldwide abolition. Abolition of the death penalty is a condition for EU membership.

Source

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union#Legal_system_and_Justice (23.12.2019)

Transport

Safe, sustainable and connected transport

EU transport policy helps keep the European economy moving by developing a modern infrastructure network that makes journeys quicker and safer, while promoting sustainable and digital solutions.

Transport is a cornerstone of European integration and is vital for fulfilling the free movement of individuals, services and goods. Transport is also a major contributor to the economy, representing more than 9% of EU gross value added (the contribution to the economy). Transport services alone accounted for around €664 billion in gross value added in 2016 and they employ around 11 million people.

Photo: https://pixabay.com/it/photos/piano-viaggio-esplorare-scopri-841441/

The implementation of sustainable and innovative means of transport plays an important role in the EU’s energy and climate objectives. As our societies become ever more mobile, EU policy supports transport systems to meet the major challenges:

* congestion: which affects both road and air traffic

* sustainability: transport still depends on oil for most of its energy needs, which is environmentally and economically untenable

* air quality: by 2050, the EU must cut transport emissions by 60% compared with 1990 levels, and continue to reduce vehicle pollution

* infrastructure: the quality of transport infrastructure is uneven across the EU

* competition: the EU’s transport sector faces growing competition from fast-developing transport markets in other regions

Source

https://europa.eu/european-union/topics/transport_en (23.12.2019)