The EU is highly dependent on energy resources. More than a half of EU energy consumption is linked to imports. Increasing instability in the Middle East together with the deterioration of EU-Russia relations mean that energy security will remain at the top of the EU's agenda in the coming years. How can we achieve a true energy union? How can interconnectivity be increased between Member States? What should the ideal energy mix look like and how can energy efficiency be increased within the EU? The publication summarises the debate that seeks answers to these questions.
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Nearly half of all food gets wasted in the EU each year. This statistic is even more shocking when one considers that 79 million EU citizens live beneath the poverty line and some 16 million depend on food aid from charitable institutions. In 2011, in the wake of the economic and financial crisis, 24.2% of Europeans – 119.6 million people – were on the brink of social exclusion.
The European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) “Water and sanitation are a human right! Water is a public good, not a commodity!“ was the first successful ECI, achieving over 1.6 million validated signatures from across 13 Member States. The Initiative called upon the Commission to “implement the human right to water and sanitation in European law“.
As the current economic and financial crisis drags on, many Europeans are being forced to get by on less. This loss of purchasing power puts consumers at risk of social exclusion. The EU estimates1 that more than 120 million people were at risk of poverty or social exclusion in 2013.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is the biggest and most ambitious free trade agreement currently being negotiated by the European Union. Economists believe that an agreement with the USA will be advantageous for both the European Union and the USA, and the negative effects of trade liberalisation will be insignificant. This publication is a summary of the debate on "What development opportunities does the TTIP bring to Europe?" that was held in Sopot on 2 October 2014 as part of the European Forum for New Ideas.
Energy is crucial for modern societies; the development of the economy is directly linked to its price and availability.
Today, Europe is highly dependent on external energy resources; in 2012 90% of its energy was imported. Yet the various political crises throughout the world (Ukraine, Iraq) remind us that this dependence makes Europe very vulnerable.
In order to minimise the effects of this, Europe must rely on a true energy mix. Diversification, both in terms of geography and energy sources, is crucial.
Undeclared work in Europe undermines the European ideals of the rule of law, security, solidarity, social and fiscal justice, free market competition and the free movement of workers. Therefore, the setting up of a European Platform to combat irregular employment must be welcomed. The elimination of undeclared work in Europe would be a great achievement.
"Member States cannot face the challenges brought by immigration alone. There is a need for a greater solidarity to ensure that no Member State is facing a disproportionate amount of pressure due to its geographical situation. A common policy on immigration and integration is needed to benefit from migratory fluxes."
Panagiotis Gkofas, rapporteur on 'European immigration policy and relations with third countries'
"EMU, which is substantially more than what is being discussed on the table now, is indispensable to re-create confidence in the European project. Only its completion and full implementation will encourage investments and boost growth and jobs."
Joost van Iersel, co-rapporteur on ‘Completing EMU – The next European legislature’
Although the role of SMEs in the EU economy is crucial and their well-being should be a priority for European policy-makers, they struggle with access to finance especially in the countries severely hit by the crisis. The Greek experience might and should be taken as a case study and lead to conclusions on how to improve the system for the future.