Pilootide tööajast transparentselt.
Pilootide tööajast transparentselt.
Pilootide tööajast transparentselt.
The Constitutional Affaires Committee, aka AFCO (Affaires Constitutionnelles) is responsible in the EP first and foremost for dealing with inevitable and essential EU issues. Among other things, the committee is also responsible for the implementation of the EU Treaty and the assessment of its operations, for the institutional aspects regarding the enlargement negotiations of the Union, for legal aspects regarding the creation and administration of new institutions, and for the inter-institutional relations.
Currently, the new common electoral law is being discussed in the committee, with discussions dating back to 1976. The committee also executes institutional supervision of the existence of serious and persistent breaches by any Member State.
At first glance, these might not be the most interesting subjects, but yet they are of great significance.
For instance, the framework and principles for the newly established European External Action Service (EEAS), introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, were set also in the Parliament’s AFCO committee in the first half of 2010 (with the so-called Brok-Verhofstadt report).
It was made possible by the new co-decision procedure, also introduced by the new Lisbon Treaty, meaning that the EP had the same legislative role to play together with the European Commission and the Council.
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The First Web War took place in Estonia in 2007 when different government institutions were overrun with cyber attacks that supposedly came from Russian computers and servers. Luckily no serious damage was inflicted and all ended well. About a year later, the NATO Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence was founded in Tallinn. This was a remarkable sign of trust and faith in such a little country to deal with an ever-growing 21st century challenge. Today the whole world has come to realise the seriousness and scale of the threats regarding the Internet – abuse and misuse can cause serious consequences for governments, private companies and ordinary citizens alike.
In addition to NATO, there are other institutions that have to deal with this problem, such as the European Parliament. A serious challenge consists of certain foreign countries who wish to block and censor (European based) websites. A more imminent problem might on the other hand lie in the domestic sphere as several EU countries wish to obtain more control over data online (e-mails, calls, chats, pictures, videos, etc). This raises questions about when and on what grounds would tapping Skype calls, for instance, be legal and justified. Downloading and sharing films and music is a known issue and has made the relevant industries take action; raising awareness on this issue even gave the Swedish Pirate Party 2 seats in the European Parliament elections.
In Autumn 2009 the EP scored a great success regarding the so-called “Telecom package” (EU’s plan for the reform of the regulatory framework for electronic communications) where a point that would have restricted the use and freedom of Internet users was removed. Instead, an amendment emphasising the need to respect and withhold the rights of Internet users as ordinary citizens was pushed through.
But how to regulate the handling and use of intellectual property, found on basically every step on the Internet? Member States have already started to update their legislation on this issue, supporting to the EU’s Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive or IPRED created in 2004. The IPRED law in Sweden, Hadopi law in France and the Digital Economy Bill in Great Britain are a few examples.
In France there is the 3-strike system, meaning that the authorities will send a letter to a person who has been caught illegally downloading data; should he or she not comply, the measures taken will get more severe and a person can be deprived of his or her Internet connection and/or receive a fine. Belgium is expected to adopt a similar law in 2010.
There’s a heated debate going on in the European Parliament on IPRs. This year the so-called Gallo report was adopted. This IPR report, tabled by French MEP Michelle Gallo (EPP group) offers a variety of methods that could be used for enforcement of IPRs. This report proved to be a very controversial one, that led the Social-democrats along with the Greens/EFA to table their own alternative resolutions, as their view was that the report restricts citizens’ rights and puts downloading and sharing files on the same level with large scale piracy. Their concern was shared by Reporters Without Borders.
At the same time, however, different artist associations across Europe turned to the EP asking MEPs to adopt the report in its current form. The European Writers’ Council, European Visual Artists, European Federation of Journalists, Society of Audiovisual Authors, Federation of European Film Directors and the European Council of Artists wrote in their letters that the Gallo report emphasises the appropriate and necessary protection of IPRs from the point of view of the authors. Other associations’ letters followed. Furthermore, the alternative resolution tabled by Social-democrats and the Greens/EFA group as a sign of protest was widely condemned by the artists unions.
The views of artists as people directly involved with IPRs have to be taken into account. Nonetheless one should ask a critical question: do these associations reflect more the views of the artists or the industry?
Anyway the report has been adopted. The document calls upon the European Commission to harmonize the EU’s IPR laws and remove the obstacles from creating a single digital market; also, the report suggests the creation of IPR enforcement so-called helpdesks abroad, where EU companies would be able to receive help when exporting or doing business in India or Russia, for example.
At first, however, as the report puts it – a thorough research has to be carried out on the modern problems and possible solutions related to IPRs.
As file sharing, buying books and music affects us all, it would be useful to know your view, dear reader. Is there anything you would like to change in Europe or in your country with regard to IPRs, file sharing, downloading and uploading films, music, audiobooks, etc? There will surely be new reforms on IPR in the EU in the near future. Whatever the restrictions in this field (or merely changes) may be, they will be felt by both Internet users and artists providing the content for it.
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La quadrature: About the Gallo report
The creation of the EEAS is one of the most significant changes introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon. Its aim is to make EU’s external policy more consistent and efficient, thereby strengthening EU’s political and economic influence in the world.
This new service is aimed at assisting the High Representative of the Union of Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, in fulfilling her mandate.
EEAS shall include officials from the Council and the Commission, as well as staff from the national diplomatic services of the 27 EU Member States. It will work in close cooperation with the national diplomatic services of the member states and its delegations outside EU, playing a supporting role regarding diplomatic and consular protection and help of EU citizens in third countries.
Jointly with the European Parliament the service is expected to get up and running as soon as possible. The Council shall adopt the launching of the EEAS on a proposal from the High Representative after consulting the EP and getting an approval from the Commission. The necessary financial and staff regulations, as well as the draft amending budget shall be adopted by co-decision with the EP.
From the 1st of January, 2011, 1525 officials from the office of the Secretary General of the Commission and Council shall be sent to the external action service. There is also an additional 100 newly created posts. In the EEAS there are 1625 posts altogether. The service shall comprise one central administrating unit and 136 formal European Commission’s delegations. The Service headquarters is in Brussels.
Despite the fact that the “double-hatted” HR promised that “the recruitment will be based on merit, with the objective of securing the services of staff of the highest standard of ability, efficiency and integrity, while ensuring adequate geographical balance”, it is now clear that in reality so far there is no such balance regarding the appointment of officials. Naturally it has created a lot of disapproval among the MEPs and debates on the matter are ongoing.
Indeed, it is in the member state’s interest to, for example, present more female candidates for the senior overseas jobs. At the moment, only 11 out of the 115 ambassadors are female. 11 member states are over-represented while 16 are under-represented.
Only two of the newly appointed 115 ambassadors are from EU new member states, and sadly enough, no Estonians among them. Candidates’ language skills, diplomatic job experience just did not reach the threshold of requirements for the posts. Also, alas, the new member states’ geographic position might have not been of advantage.
Catherine Ashton has voiced her criticism about this, talking about the creation of a “Western European old boys club” diplomatic service.
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The main goals of this programme are to develop measures enabling the EU to get out of the economic and financial crisis and to establish a strong basis for sustainable growth.
Another priority is the stability of the Euro-zone. At the time, he stressed the financial mechanism of support for Greece, which was adopted on 11th of April, was ready to be activated by Greece in case this country would need it.
In this framework, the stability and growth pact should be reviewed with increased economic monitoring of the Member States and permanent mechanisms to be set up to resolve unexpected crisis situations.
The European commission is expected to communicate on enhanced coordination on economic policies to improve the use of the possibilities the Lisbon Treaty offers.
The Commission wants public financing to be reliable and sustainable.
In the meanwhile, the European Commission has proposed a new monitoring system of national budgets, with supervision by a new European economic government on national budgetary programme and decisions ahead of the vote in National Parliaments. This would allow more budgetary discipline and a stronger economic coordination between the 27 Member States. The European Council still have to decide how to develop the new structure and the implementation of the decision will belong to all three institutions.
According to Mr Barroso, since one year and a half, the European financial system is more ethical, has a new monitoring structure and alternative investments funds. The new structure of the financial system would be operational in 2011.
He stressed the social inclusion by 2020 with the creation of a platform against poverty insisting on social and economic cohesion.
Three-months rolling programme of priority debates in the plenary (Strasbourg)
ACTA (Anti Counterfeit Trade Agreement) on hetkel läbirääkimisfaasis olev rahvusvaheline võltsimisvastane kaubandusleping. Kuigi piraatluse ja võltskaupade vastane võitlus tundub üllas, on tegemist võimaliku ohuga inimeste turvalisusele ja privaatsusele, sest lepe võib pikas plaanis anda õigused riiklikele asutustele oma kodanike e-kirjade sisu ja Internetitegevust jälgida. Leppe tulisemad vastased on siinkohal öelnud, et samamoodi võiks riik soovida postkontoris meie kirju ise avama hakata.
Euroopa Parlamendis hakati leppest kõnelema alles 2009.a lõpus, kuigi läbirääkimised ise algasid juba 2007.a. Sellega rikkus aga läbirääkimistel ELi esindanud Euroopa Komisjon otseselt Lissaboni lepingut, mille kohaselt on viimasel kohustus EPd kõikide rahvusvaheliste lepetega kursis hoida. Jääb üle vaid järeldada, et asjast huvitatud osapooled olid soovinud leppe teksti ja olemuse vaka all hoida, kuni see sõlmitud saab. Need riigid on Kanada, USA, Euroopa Liit, Jaapan, Šveits, Korea, Mehhiko, Maroko, Uus-Meremaa, Singapur ja Austraalia. Viimastel andmetel oli see USA, kes oli sundinud ELi ACTA teksti mitte avaldama pärast viimaseid augustis toimunud läbirääkimiste vooru.
Euroopa Komisjon väidab, et läbirääkimised on kogu aeg olnud avalikud, aga mõistagi ainult selle astmeni, kuhu alles sõlmimisel olevate rahvusvaheliste lepete puhul minna saab.
Paraku pole Euroopa Parlament asjaga üldse nõus. 9. märtsil 2010 võeti EPs vastu koguni resolutsioon, kus kritiseeritakse senist läbirääkimiste läbipaistmatust ja kulgu ning mainitakse, et EP on oma õiguste nimel valmis minema isegi Euroopa Kohtusse.
Sellegipoolest kutsus EP ülesse läbirääkimisi jätkamata ja seda hea põhjusega. OECD andmetel moodustab võltsitud kaupade osakaal turul 150 miljardit eurot. Võltsitud kaubad võivad ehk tunduda lihtsalt jõukate suurfirmade kahjumeid mõjutavat, aga 2009.a konfiskeeriti Euroopas 264% rohkem võltsitud kosmeetika ja hooldusvahendeid, 51% ravimeid ja 62% enam toiduaineid võrreldes varasemaga. Kusjuures, OECD andmetele tuginedes võib prognoosida, et võltsravimite osakaal maailmaturul on 10%.
Muuseas, läbirääkimiste laua taga pole maailma kõige kiiremalt arenevaid ja võltskaupa tootvaid-tarbivaid maid. Need nn BRIC riigid on Brasiilia, Venemaa, India ja Hiina, kes pole seni avaldanud soovi leppega liituda. Õnneks on lepe avatud kõikidele nii praeguses faasis kui ka tulevikus, kuna kavas on luua mehhanismid, millega saab leppega mitte liitunud riikidele hõlpsasti oskusteavet jagada.
Seniks proovivad aga EP saadikud ACTA läbirääkimisi avalikustada ja isikuandmete ja intellektuaalomandi kaitse eest seista. ACTA koosneb nimelt kolmest osast, millest üks alajaotus reguleerib konkreetselt intellektuaalse omandi kaitset. Vajadus vastava seadusloome järele on mõistagi olemas, ent sealjuures tuleb arvestada nii kauba või teenuse tootjate/autorite kui ka tarbijate õigustega. Teisisõnu ei saa riik oma asutuste kaudu tungida inimese privaatellu ja jälgida tema meilivestlusi või tegevust Internetis. Sestap on ka resolutsioonis ära toodud punkt H:
“/…/ on väga tähtis tagada, et intellektuaalomandi õiguste jõustamise meetmete väljatöötamine toimuks viisil, mis ei takista uuendustegevust ega konkurentsi, ei kahjusta intellektuaalomandi õigustega seotud piiranguid ega isikuandmete kaitset, ei piira teabe vaba liikumist ega koorma liigselt seaduslikku kaubandust /…/ ”
Tänaseks on läbirääkimiste läbipaistvuse osas küll teatav edu saavutatud ja töö jätkub, sh ka koostöö EPga, ent täieliku leppe sõlmimiseni on veel pikk tee.
http://en.act-on-acta.eu/Main_Page – infot ACTAga seonduvate arengute osas
EP ACTA resolutsioon:
http://ec.europa.eu/trade/creating-opportunities/trade-topics/intellectual-property/anti-counterfeiting/ – Euroopa Komisjoni ACTA lehekülg
http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2009/november/tradoc_145271.pdf – Euroopa Komisjoni ingliskeelne kokkuvõte ACTAst