News

Funeral service of President David Sassoli | EU Parliament Press

David Sassoli’s state funeral will take place today at 12.00 noon at the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri in Rome.

The President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella, and the highest office-holders from the Italian and European institutions will be present. The EU institutions will be represented by acting-President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola, European Council President Charles Michel, EU Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen, the leaders of EP political groups, and senior Parliament officials.

You can follow the funeral service of President David Sassoli from 11:00 via webstreamingor at Europe by Satellite.

MEPs will hold a memorial service for President Sassoli on Monday 17 January at the opening of the plenary session in Strasbourg. It will be held in the presence of EU presidents, former Italian Prime Minister and MEP Enrico Letta, and France’s President Emmanuel Macron (more info here).

Joint Statement by Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič and UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss | EU Commission Press

Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič and UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss held their first meeting at Chevening on 13-14 January. The meeting took place in a cordial atmosphere. They agreed that officials would meet next week in intensified talks and that the principals would meet again on 24 January. We share a desire for a positive relationship between the EU and the UK underpinned by our shared belief in freedom and democracy.

Commission calls for environmental sustainability to be at the core of EU education and training systems | EU Commission Press

The Commission published today a proposal for a Council Recommendation on learning for environmental sustainability. The aim of the proposal is to support Member States, schools, higher education institutions, non-governmental organisations and all education providers in equipping learners with understanding and skills on sustainability, climate change and the environment. A new European competence framework on sustainability published by the Joint Research Centre, also available today, maps out the competences needed for the green transition, including critical thinking, initiative-taking, respecting nature and understanding the impact everyday actions and decisions have on the environment and the global climate.

Vice-President for the Promoting European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said: Youth participation has been revolutionising the way we look at climate and the environment. Through our youth programmes, European Solidarity Corps and DiscoverEU, we promote the sustainability drive involving our youth. This is a step further in the work towards a better integration of sustainability in education.”

Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel said: “There is tremendous work being done right across Europe to help children, young people and adults learn about and engage with climate change, biodiversity loss and sustainability. Our goal is to build on these efforts and to work closely with Member States to place sustainability at the heart of education and training systems. All learners, from an early age need opportunities to understand and take action for environmental sustainability, to protect our planet and our future.”

The Commission’s proposal calls on Member States to:

  • Provide learners of all ages access to high-quality and inclusive education and training on climate change, biodiversity and sustainability;
  • Establish learning for environmental sustainability as a priority area in education and training policies and programmes in order to support and enable the sector to contribute to the green transition;
  • Encourage and support whole-institution approaches to sustainability which encompass teaching and learning; developing visions, planning and governance; active involvement of students and staff; management of buildings and resources and partnerships with local and wider communities;
  • Mobilise national and EU funds for investment in sustainable and green infrastructure, training, tools and resources to increase resilience and preparedness of education and training for the green transition.

When asked in a Eurobarometer survey, what should be the top priorities for the EU in the years to come young people’s first reply was  the protection of the environment and the fight against climate change (67%) followed by the improvement of education and training (56%).This shows how important it is to act.

The 2021-2027 Erasmus+ programme also places a strong focus on the green transition in education and training. For the 2022 annual work programme, priority will be given to projects developing green competences and skills, future-oriented curricula and planned approaches to sustainability by education providers. A specific call for large-scale projects will provide funding to identify, develop and test innovative approaches to education for environmental sustainability. The Commission will also provide training opportunities and communities of practice for educators through School Education Gateway and eTwinning. The new European Education Area Portal of the Commission allows for easy access to information on education and training in the EU, including specific information on green education.

Next Steps

The Commission’s proposal will be discussed by Member States and then adopted by EU education Ministers. The Commission will support the implementation of the Recommendation through learning and exchanges between Member States, stakeholders and partner countries.

Background

To prepare the proposal, the Commission consulted widely on the current state of play regarding learning opportunities for environmental sustainability in the EU. A public survey, which ran from June to September 2021, received over 1,300 responses as well as 95 position papers. Input was also gathered during a series of online consultation workshops with policy makers, teachers, youth organisations, social partners, researchers and other interested bodies and organisations. The consultations underlined the crucial role of education and training in helping people understand and take action on environmental sustainability.

In the public survey, 71% of respondents, ranked education and trainingas the most important sector in this regard, ahead of public bodies and governments (56%), and media (34%). Providing teachers, trainers, youth leaders and academic staff with quality professional development opportunities on the environment and sustainability was considered a main priority for action, along with making sustainability a cross-cutting issue in curricula and study programmes.

For More Information

Proposal for a Council Recommendation on learning for sustainability

European sustainability competence framework

European Education Area

GreenComp – The European sustainability competence framework on the Science Hub

Learning Corner

School Education Gateway

eTwinning

Speech by Commissioner Breton at the conference “A stronger industry for a more autonomous Europe” | EU Commission Press

Madam Minister,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to be here with you to close one of the first major highlights of the French Presidency of the European Union.

Today you have addressed essential questions that call for a central response: Europe’s ability to take its economic and industrial destiny in hand. 

I am deeply convinced that, as in so many other areas, there will be a before and after to the COVID crisis.

Until recently, there was a strong and long-held belief that, in our globalised world, supply chains were unshakeable; that there was no such thing as shortages.

This credo was shattered by the new reality that we now have to face. I was shattered, first of all by the reality of “China First” for masks. Then, by the reality of “America First” for vaccines. This was a wake-up call for many of thus: who would have thought that even our American partners would prevent our own European companies from accessing the  essential elements, which they actually produced themselves on American soil, and which they needed for manufacturing vaccines in Europe!

We are experiencing this new reality well beyond the health crisis.

Take the current shortage of semi-conductors, concrete consequences for our economy and for employment in Europe.

Or the energy crisis, which reminds us how much we depend on imported fossil fuels and how some are using them as a geopolitical lever.

I am also thinking of our dependences on raw materials that are critical for the transition of our industry, such as lithium or synthetic graphite, which are so important for the production of electric batteries.

Or on timber: prices have risen by more than 25% in one year, the largest increase amongst all construction products.

Those are the facts.  

The question is: how will Europe take its destiny in its own hands?

I often hear, rightfully, that we need a sovereign Europe, a resilient Europe, an autonomous Europe.

Against this backdrop, my roadmap is straight to the point and hands-on, focused on results for our citizens.

  • Europe must invest in cutting-edge products and technologies that allow us to remain competitive and generate quality jobs;
  • Europe must be a leader in the markets of the future, not a subcontractor for whoever;
  • A “factory” Europe that gives itself the means to cater for its own needs but also to conquer world markets and export;
  • A Europe not withdrawn into its shell and wanting to produce everything itself, but rather a Europe that shelters all its supplies from the hazards of what I call the geopolitics of value chains.

This industrial ambition is increasingly federating at European level. Take, for example, the coalition agreement of the new German government, the change in tone in the Netherlands, and the tenor of the discussions in the European Council.

From European market to European power

Only on a continental scale can governments take the measure of the new geopolitical reality.

For two years now, Europe has been updating its software, so to speak, building a genuine continental industrial policy; a more assertive policy, open to the world yet on our terms.

First of all, we now have a good understanding of the areas in which we must reduce our strategic dependencies and increase our industrial capacity.

To do so, the Commission will continue to champion European industrial alliances on batteries, raw materials, hydrogen, more recently on semiconductors and data, and soon to come on space launchers and zero emission aircrafts.

The industrial alliances we launched have played a major role, bringing tangible results, including:

  • On batteries: 120 billion euros of public and (mostly) private investment in 2019 and 2020, 3.5 times more than China. 70 major battery projects in the EU announced and under construction, including more than 20 gigafactories. Training programmes for the 800,000 people who need retraining or professional development. A battery regulation under negotiation.
  • On hydrogen: 800 million euros from EU funds each year for hydrogen projects. Legislation on the definition and certification of hydrogen under preparation.
  • On cloud: 40 European IT companies grouped together to develop the next generation of data processing technologies and position Europe in the race for highly secure, low-latency, state-of-the-art solutions. A technology roadmap already finalised. An important Project of Common European Interest under way.

I would like to commend public authorities and industry for their joint commitment to these industrial alliances. They have now proved their added value and we will continue to promote them.

Yet, rebalancing global value chains also involves diversifying our sources of supply. This includes consolidating our international partnerships in the raw materials sector.

This is why, for minerals or critical raw materials, the EU has signed initial partnerships with Ukraine and Canada We are also working closely with our neighbours – Norway, Serbia – as well as with countries in Africa and Latin America. At the same time, we must strengthen our domestic capacities by developing innovative and sustainable projects.

Finally, the geopolitics of value chains also implies rebalancing the balance of power. I mentioned the example of vaccines at the beginning of my speech. Only when the European Union set up an export control tool – in short, leverage – were we able to unblock the supply chains, component by component, product by product, producer by producer. This is a lesson that we must learn from this crisis.

The Commission has already laid several building blocks, including in particular the foreign direct investment screening mechanism, which has been operational for more than a year, or the proposal for a regulation on distortions arising from foreign subsidies in public procurement and acquisitions. I am confident – and I count on the French Presidency – that it will be adopted in the course of this year.

A few words also on standardisation. Standardisation activities are essential to the deployment of the green and digital transition of European industry. Yet European standards are facing more intense competition at international level, in particular from China.

Thirty years ago, we defined the GSM and 3G standards. It represented over 90% of market share. But see how China, over a year ago, made a breakaway to propose its own standard on ultra-lightweight lithium metal batteries. Europe was nowhere to be seen. This cannot happen again.

It is therefore essential that we strengthen standardisation governance in Europe, to prevent major industrial players from exerting excessive influence on the development of European standards.

This is the very purpose of the standardisation strategy I will present it in a few weeks.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Semiconductors are an excellent example of Europe taking its destiny in hand.

Semiconductors have been one of my top priorities since the first day of my mandate. They are the linchpin of most of the technologies of the future: 5G, 6G, edge computing, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence. 

Without these technologies, there can be no green transition either. Take, for example, intelligent electricity distribution networks, battery management in cars or energy storage systems.

By the end of the decade, the semiconductor market will double. We have to be ready, and above all we have to prepare the ground for our leadership on the next-generation semiconductors, that is to say below 5 or even 2 nanometres.

We have the best research – LETI in Grenoble, IMEC in Leuven and Fraunhofer in Dresden – and the best technologies in the world, particularly in chip production equipment with ASML. It is up to us to turn this excellence into industrial leadership.

The Chips Act, announced in September by President von der Leyen, will help us do this. Accelerating the transition from research to the factory, investing in European mega-fabs, promoting international partnerships: all the ingredients are there.

The Chips Act will also create the right investment conditions to ensure security of supply along the value chain and better withstand potential crises in this key market for our future industries.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I was talking about a before and after the crisis. Over and above measures specific to certain sectors, this requires a structural reflection on how to be better equipped for the next crisis which, whatever its nature, may cause major shocks to demand or supply, affecting our industries and fragmenting our single market. We must remember how much the single market was damaged at the beginning of the crisis by the precipitous barriers to free movement, blocking vital products and many workers at the borders.

We were certainly able to implement ad hoc measures (basically phone calls – and I had to make quite a few of them!) to remove these barriers. But now we need to think about a more systemic approach.

We are therefore working on an emergency instrument for the single market, with two main components: better preparation, and a reinforced capacity to react in case of crisis.

This will involve developing a system to determine when our single market is in crisis, structured coordination with and between Member States, and measures to ensure the availability of the most critical goods and services.

It is time to have a discussion, without naivety, and without taboos, on the toolbox we need to guarantee our security of supply for our most critical value chains in case of crisis. It is important for Europe to be on par with our partners who have already put in place measures to become more responsive and stronger in defending their interests.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am convinced that Europe has everything it needs to redraw the balance of power.

There is no such thing as fatality. When Europe has the will to come together and march in close ranks, it succeeds. 

We have a unique opportunity to write a new page together, in addition to those already written: after the Europe of democracy and the Europe of the market, let us now pave the way for a Europe of power.

Thank you.

Declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the European Union on the alignment of certain countries concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Mali | EU Council Press

On 13 December 2021, the Council adopted Council Decision (CFSP) 2021/2208.1

This Decision establishes a new framework for targeted restrictive measures against individuals and entities responsible for threatening the peace, security or stability of Mali, or for obstructing the implementation of its political transition.

The Candidate Countries The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania2, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the EFTA countries Iceland and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and Georgia align themselves with this Council Decision.

They will ensure that their national policies conform to this Council Decision.

The European Union takes note of this commitment and welcomes it.


1Published on 14.12.2021 in the Official Journal of the European Union no. L 446, p. 44.

2The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

Creative Europe: Increased budget in 2022 to support cultural and creative sectors | EU Commission Press

Today, the Commission has adopted the 2022 work programme of Creative Europe, which will be followed by the launch of the relevant calls for proposals. With a budget of around €385 million, nearly €100 million more compared to 2021, Creative Europe strengthens its support to creative and cultural partners taking due account of the challenges resulting from the COVID-19 crisis and the growing global competition.

Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel, said: “Cultural and creative sectors are the soul of European society. We know how resilient the creative and cultural sectors have been in these past two years. In 2022, Creative Europe will benefit from its biggest budget ever. The EU stands by their side to support their recovery, their creative process and their innovation potential. We invite artists, creators and culture professionals to explore and benefit from the many funding opportunities provided by Creative Europe.”

Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton, added: “In 2022, we will intensify our support to Europe’s cultural and creative sector heavily hit by the COVID-19 crisis, from cinemas to festivals. With our Creative Europe programme, we will mobilise unprecedented € 226 million for audiovisual and € 35 million for cross- sectoral cooperation, including the news media. Creative Europe will invest in innovation in digital technologies and new types of content, from high-end TV series to virtual reality.  And as part of our efforts to protect media freedom in the EU, we will fund journalism partnerships, strengthen professional standards and promote media literacy.”

The culture strand of the programme will include new calls and initiatives for the music, cultural heritage, performing arts and literature sectors. In addition, it will launch a mobility scheme, offering opportunities to artists, creators or cultural professionals to go abroad for professional development or for international collaborations, and to find new audiences, co-produce, co-create or present their work.

The MEDIA strand focuses on audio-visual and several novelties are introduced in 2022. Support to the development of innovative video games and virtual reality experiences will be funded.  A new action, ‘MEDIA 360 degrees’ will target leading industrial fora engaging with businesses across the audio-visual value chain. To further boost innovation the Media Market Gateway will be launched for promising start-ups. Collaboration between film festivals will be strengthened through networks.

Finally, the cross-sectoral strand will increase funding for the Creative Innovation Lab for joint-innovation projects involving several creative sectors, contributing also to the New European Bauhaus. It will also widen support to the news media through additional measures to nurture media freedom.

Creative Europe will also address key issues affecting the cultural and creative sectors. MEDIA funded projects will be required to implement strategies for greening and diversity, including gender balance. Creative Europe will therefore contribute significantly to the political priorities of the Commission on sustainability and inclusion. The programme will include initiatives that cover additional EU priorities, such as the contribution to the EU Strategy on combating antisemitism and fostering Jewish life – as well as the European Year of Youth.

Cultural and creative sectors are also encouraged to use CulturEU, the recently launched online guide to all EU funding available to them. The interactive website gathers a total of 75 funding opportunities from 21 different EU programmes, from Creative Europe and Horizon Europe to structural funds and InvestEU.

Background

The cultural and creative sectors have always been a rich facet of European life, contributing to Europe’s social cohesion and diversity, as well as its economy, representing 4.2% of the EU’s total GDP and 3.7% of the EU’s workforce.

The total budget available for Creative Europe from 2021 to 2027 amounts to around €2.4 billion, an increase of 63% compared with 2014-2020. The increased budget reflects the European Union’s commitment to help the sector recover and foster resilience in the years ahead. The programme has three strands:

  • The Culture strand covers all areas of the cultural and creative sectors except the audio-visual and news media sectors;
  • The MEDIA strand provides support for the audio-visual and film sectors, and;
  • The cross-sectoral strand provides opportunities for cross-sectoral collaboration.

Public and private bodies active in the creative sectors can apply for funding with the help of the Creative Europe Desks, based in all EU Member States and third countries associated to the programme.

Details on the specific actions and related application deadlines are available on the dedicated website.

For More Information

2022 Annual Work Programme for the implementation of the Creative Europe Programme

Creative Europe website

News item

Understanding China-EU relations in the context of the Belt and Road initiative | Europp LSE Blog

In December, the EU unveiled a new ‘Global Gateway’ project that has been widely viewed as an attempt to challenge the influence of China’s Belt and Road initiative. Catherine Jones assesses what the future might hold for China-EU relations.

Changes are coming thick and fast in relations between China, the EU, and EU member states. The presence of China as a significant – but strained – international actor is exacerbating existing fissures in relations among ‘western states’ that will make coordinated international action more difficult. In the context of China’s relations with the EU (as an institution) and the member states these tensions are already apparent.

As eastern and southern member states leverage the opportunity of China’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI), and as northern states become more concerned about human rights violations, these pressures will only increase. Economic and political drivers of EU policies in relation to China are on a collision course. In July 2021, Pepjin Bergsen described this as an ‘unsustainable policy’. I would take this analysis one step further by highlighting the potential impotence of the EU in being able to address the new nature of China as a global actor.

Bergsen’s analysis succinctly argues that “the EU’s approach to the economic challenge from China, as well as to broader geopolitical and geo-economic issues, has been to pursue ‘strategic autonomy’”. This argument is, however, rapidly developing. In recent months, Lithuania has sought to extend ties with Taiwan, leading to a trade dispute between China and Lithuania.

Stuart Lau and Barbara Moens argue that China’s response is aimed at preventing any further recognition of Taiwan by EU members. Lithuania may only be a small state, but the significance to the rest of the EU is worthy of note, as German car manufacturers have had parts stopped at Chinese ports because they were manufactured in Lithuania. The EU response has been muted and limited to recourse to the trade department or the World Trade Organization (WTO).

This example is indicative of a wider problem for the EU that is expertly outlined in a range of recent books. To date, the EU has tried to strike a balance in relations with China, engaging in some areas and becoming a competitor in others. Yet, implementing this balance depends on the approach of individual member states, as well as coordination with arms of EU policy that are directly under the control of the Commission. The problem – as a 2019 Commission report notes – is that to pursue this model, the EU “requires a flexible and pragmatic whole-of-EU approach enabling a principled defence of interests and values”. The example of Lithuania seems to aptly demonstrate the problems that come with this approach.

The change in power in Germany may also affect this balance – offering some potential hope or new fears. Under Angela Merkel’s leadership, an engagement policy was pursued which appeared to be in line with the EU approach. However, with the advent of the traffic light coalition, and Green Party control of the foreign ministry under the leadership Annalena Baerbock – a noted China critic – Germany’s approach towards China may pivot. In the words of one Bundestag official, “I think you will see a quick shift, possibly even a drastic one”.

This may offer hope to some that the EU can coalesce around a new approach towards China that can be more consistently followed. A new German approach that has less concern for large industrialists and more concern for political issues including the Uighurs, Hong Kong and Taiwan, might help to tighten the ties between member states. Similarly, a new approach from Germany may bring the preferences of France and Germany closer together. As Francois Nicolas noted in February 2020, despite the ‘strategic partnership between the two states’, France is likely to begin to implement a ‘firmer’ line with respect to China.

The EU’s counteroffer to the Belt and Road initiative, the ‘Global Gateway’, may also support this positive view. The global gateway is a 300 billion euro plan for infrastructure investment, aimed at supporting global supply chains, pursuing values including respect for law and transparent agreements, and ensuring some future-proofing of the projects undertaken in relation to climate change and building in resilience. The announcement of the global gateway may be seen as the EU backing up its new rivalry with China with significant funding, which will grease the wheels of member state coordination and cooperation.

A more pessimistic reading suggests recent developments will realign differences rather than reduce them. Differences on China among EU member states are about more than the preferences of Germany or outward facing development assistance. According to the Economist, eastern bloc EU members seem to see a potential ‘ideological friend’ in Taiwan, despite the backlash from China. Southern member states needing investment can seek engagement with China through the Belt and Road initiative and use those negotiations to leverage more funding from the Commission. These difficulties will take time to overcome and may depend on how Germany’s new foreign minister pursues a China policy, and the outcome of the 2022 French elections.

 

Download the full publication here

President Sassoli to be honoured in Plenary | EU Parliament Press

European Parliament President David Sassoli passed away on 11 January. The Parliament will honour his memory in a ceremony on Monday in Strasbourg.

European Parliament President David Sassoli passed away earlier today in Aviano (Italy), where he had been hospitalised since 26 December. A Member of the European Parliament since 2009, he was elected President in July 2019 for the first half of the legislature.

President Sassoli adopted extraordinary measures enabling the European Parliament to carry out its duties and exercise its prerogatives under the Treaties during the course of the pandemic. He also played a prominent role in championing an ambitious long-term EU budget and effective recovery facility. In addition, the late President led Parliament in showing its solidarity towards the less fortunate when the crisis first hit, with supportive actions in European Parliament’s host cities such as providing meals to charities and shelter in Parliament’s premises to women who are victims of violence. Determined to draw from the lessons of the pandemic, President Sassoli also launched a large reflection exercise with Members to rethink and reinforce Parliamentary democracy.

As a dedicated European, President Sassoli underlined in his speech at the European Council in December a few weeks ago that “What Europe needs, and needs most of all, is a new project of hope. I think we can build that project on the basis of a powerful three-pronged approach: a Europe that innovates; a Europe that protects; and a Europe that illuminates.”

Commemoration

A ceremony to honour his memory will take place on Monday 17 January at the opening of the plenary session in Strasbourg in the presence of former MEP and Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta.

In Rome, President David Sassoli will lie in state on Thursday 13 January from 10.00 to 18.00 in Sala della Protomoteca of the Campidoglio. The funeral service will take place on Friday 14 January at 12.00 in the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli.

Election of the new EP President

As outlined in the Rules of Procedure (Rule 20), the interim Presidency will be ensured by the first Vice-President of the Parliament in the days leading up to the election of a new President. As originally planned before the sudden passing of President Sassoli, the election of the President for the second half of the mandate will take place on Tuesday 18 January during the Strasbourg plenary. The elections of the Vice-Presidents and Quaestors will follow in the same week.

Commission proposes stronger mandate for EU Drugs Agency as illicit market proliferates | EU Commission Press

The Commission is proposing today to strengthen the mandate of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, transforming it into the European Union Drugs Agency. The proposed changes will ensure that the agency can play a more important role in identifying and addressing current and future challenges related to illicit drugs in the EU. This includes issuing alerts when dangerous substances are knowingly sold for illicit use, monitoring the addictive use of substances taken together with illicit drugs, and developing EU-level prevention campaigns. The EU Drugs Agency will also play a stronger international role.

Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said: “Drug production and drug trafficking have adapted to the disruptions during the pandemic. Organised crime groups quickly adjusted their drugs operations to the new situation. Now more than ever we need clear, up-to-date and reliable evidence and analysis capabilities on illicit drugs in the EU. This is why we are proposing today a stronger mandate for the EU Drugs Agency. We will continue fighting against illicit drug trafficking and addressing the impact of illicit drugs on public health and security of Europeans. Our reinforced agency will continue to be a key partner in this task.”

Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, said: “Drug trafficking remains the largest criminal market in the EU. Organised drug crime is multinational, fuelling corruption and murder. Gangs are increasingly adept at distributing banned drugs but also in producing yet to be categorised substances that pose serious risks. With today’s proposal, we are giving the EU Drugs Agency the tools it needs to monitor closely the evolving drug landscapes, to help fight the damaging effects of drugs and to work effectively with other EU agencies, in particular Europol.”

Under this enhanced mandate, the agency will be able to:

  • Develop threat assessments on new developments in relation to illicit drugs that could negatively impact public health, safety and security, helping to increase the EU’s preparedness to react to new threats;
  • Issue alerts in case particularly dangerous substances become available on the market;
  • Monitor and address poly-substance use, i.e. the addictive use of other substances when linked to drug use, considering that poly-substance use is widespread among drug users and has a detrimental impact on public health;
  • Set up a network of forensic and toxicological laboratories, bringing together national laboratories. The network will foster information exchange on new developments and trends and will support the training of forensic drug experts;
  • Develop EU-level prevention and awareness raising campaigns relating to illicit drugs, allowing the agency to act on the basis of the analysis it produces. The agency will also be able to support Member States in preparing national campaigns;
  • Provide research and support not only on health-related issues but also on drug markets and drug supply, thus addressing the drugs issue more comprehensively;
  • Play a stronger international role and support the EU’s leadership role on drug policy at multilateral level;
  • Rely on a stronger network of national contact points, in charge of providing the agency with the relevant data.

Next steps

It is now for the European Parliament and the Council to examine and adopt the new mandate.

Background

Illicit drugs are a complex security and health problem affecting millions of people in the EU and globally. The European Drug Report 2021 estimates that 83 million adults in the EU (i.e. 28.9% of the adult population) have used illicit drugs at least once during their lives. In 2019, at least 5,150 overdose deaths occurred in the EU, with a steady increase every year since 2012. At the same time, the volumes of cocaine and heroin introduced in the EU is at an all-time high and production of drugs, in particular synthetic drugs (amphetamines and ecstasy), takes place within the EU both for domestic consumption and for export. The drug market is estimated at a minimum retail value of €30 billion per year, and remains the largest criminal market in the EU and a major source of income for organised crime groups. These developments call for effective action at EU level.

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) is the leading authority on illicit drugs in the EU. It provides independent, reliable, scientific evidence and analysis on illicit drugs, drug addiction and their consequences, which supports evidence-based policy making on drug control at EU level, contributing to protecting all those living in Europe from drug-related harms.

Today’s proposal builds on the findings of the Commission evaluation of the EMCDDA published in May 2019. The evaluation concluded that the agency is widely recognised as a hub of scientific excellence in Europe and internationally, providing factual, objective, reliable and comparable data at European level on drugs, drug addiction and their consequences, and successfully monitoring emerging threats and trends. The evaluation also identified areas for improvements, based on evolutions in the drug phenomenon, including further developing work on monitoring supply-side and poly-drug issues, increasing the agency’s visibility with practitioners and the general public, and enhancing its cooperation with international organisations.

On the basis of this evaluation, the EU Drugs Strategy for 2021 to 2025 – approved by the Council in December 2020 – invites the Commission to propose revising the agency’s mandate to ensure that it plays a stronger part in addressing current and future challenges related to the drug phenomenon.

For More Information

Proposal for a Regulation on the European Union Drugs Agency (see also the annex to the proposal, the impact assessment and its executive summary)

Commission website on Drugs Policy

Launch of new calls worth €258 million to support digital connectivity infrastructures | EU Commission Press

Today, the Commission launched the first calls for proposals under the digital part of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF Digital) programme. With a planned budget of €258 million, the calls aim to improve digital connectivity infrastructures, in particular Gigabit and 5G networks, across the Union, and contribute to Europe’s digital transformation. The Commission will co-fund actions aiming to equip Europe’s main transport routes and providers of key services in local communities with 5G connectivity, as well as actions to deploy or upgrade backbone networks based on advanced technologies. The calls will also focus on infrastructure connecting federated cloud services, backbone infrastructures for digital global gateways, such as submarine cables, as well as preparatory actions to set up operational digital platforms for transport and energy infrastructures across the EU. This follows the adoption of the first Work Programme for the CEF Digital in December 2021 that earmarked more than €1 billion in funding for the period 2021-2023. CEF Digital calls are mainly open to entities, including joint ventures, established in Member States and overseas countries or territories. Interested applicants can learn more about the application, the evaluation and the award processes at the online info day that will take place on 19 January. The second generation of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF-2 programme) “Digital” strand (2021-2027) builds on the previous one, which supported cross-border digital infrastructures and services, as well as free internet access for local communities through the WiFi4EU initiative from 2014-2020.