NOVE’s take on the European Commission’s White Paper on Foreign Subsidies

EU companies have long bemoaned the fact that foreign competitors often benefit from unfair advantages in the form of state support when operating in the EU market. Similarly, Member States have voiced complaints about their companies being vulnerable to state-backed take-overs from groups outside the EU. These and other uncompetitive practices from third countries, mainly China, in the EU market are main drivers behind the new mechanisms envisaged by the European Commission in its White Paper on Levelling the Playing Field as Regards Foreign Subsidies.

The paper launches a discussion on possible policy measures to address the distortion of competition in the EU through foreign subsidies. It outlines a framework to address regulatory gaps in relation to foreign subsidies distorting the internal market through:

• the general market operation of economic operators active in the EU (module 1);
• acquisitions of EU undertakings (module 2);
• public procurement procedures (module 3).

Download Nove’s note to learn more.

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The New MFF and Recovery Vision – what does it mean for the EU?

The COVID-19 pandemic, its ensuing crisis and the severe criticism faced by the EU for its lack of response prompted the European Commission to propose a revamped Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), as well as a new recovery tool dubbed Next Generation EU (NGEU). Facing two opposing approaches from the Council – a Franco-German grants-based one and the loans-based one pushed by opponents of big spending – the Commission seemingly opted to merge the two and let the Council battle it out, thereby avoiding any further criticism that the EU has not done enough to remedy the crisis. It reflects the new priorities of the Commission and features some ambitious and controversial plans, such as a whole new range of funding for the EU in the form of various new levies on businesses.

This note presents how the change of priorities affected the EU’s long-term budget; initial reactions of main political stakeholders in the Member States and the European Parliament; how the money will be allocated in immediate responses to the economic crisis; and presents the breakdown of the MFF proposal compared to its defunct 2018 predecessor.


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Politics in the times of Coronavirus

With the outbreak of COVID-19 and the looming economic crisis in its wake, all attention is focused on the healthcare response and the consequent EU’s Recovery Plan. At the same time, and as with every crisis, profound political issues often go unnoticed only to re-emerge in earnest in the aftermath.

Download NOVE’s note “Politics in the time of Corona” for insights on some of the most pertinent political takes from the crisis so far.

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The EU’s New Industrial Strategy

On 10 March, the European Commission released its New Industrial Strategy for Europe, a priority which Commission President Ursula von der Leyen outlined in her political guidelines for 2019-2024. Building upon a succession of previous industrial strategies, the latest of which was released in 2017, the document presents the vision of what the EU wants to achieve by 2030 and beyond, as well as the fundamentals that will help it realise this goal.

The Strategy underlines a new focus on industrial ecosystems which considers all players within a value chain. The need for industry to become greener and more digital – while remaining competitive – is present throughout the text. Additionally, it highlights the EU’s ambition to boost its strategic autonomy and reduce dependence in key strategic areas such as technology, food, infrastructure, and critical materials, putting forward a new ‘partnership approach to governance’ that would promote deeper integration of European industry across its value chains and borders.

Download NOVE’s note to get an overview of the Strategy and the main initiatives proposed by the Commission.

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The European Gender Equality Strategy

On 5 March the European Commission unveiled the EU Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025 setting out actions across all policy areas aimed at achieving gender equality in the EU. The Strategy’s key objectives include ending gender-based violence and stereotypes; ensuring equal participation and opportunities in the labour market, including equal pay; and achieving gender balance in decision-making and politics.

The Communication was presented by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Vice-President for Values and Transparency Vera Jourová and Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli. The latter will lead the Commission’s work in integrating a gender perspective in all EU policies and major initiatives, with the support of the newly created Task-Force on Equality.

On the same day, the Commission opened a public consultation on the pay transparency initiative, aimed at introducing binding pay transparency measures. The consultation will feed into an impact assessment accompanying the future proposal, expected by the fourth quarter of 2020.

Download NOVE’s note to find out more about the actions foreseen by the Commission to achieve gender equality in the EU.

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NOVE analysis: CDU elections and political shifts in Germany

Following the effective resignation of Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the leader of the governing Christian Democratic Union, internal party elections for a successor to Chancellor Angela Merkel have been scheduled for 25 April in Berlin.

NOVE has analysed the importance of this transition in the context of German national politics, its impact on dynamics within the EPP political family and on the upcoming Council Presidency. In this note, we also address the potential for a feedback loop between Brussels and Berlin and identify some key actors in that respect in the coming period.

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The change of government in Slovakia and its reflection in Brussels

On Saturday 29 February, Slovakia held their general election where corruption was the main issue, inspiring two-thirds of eligible voters to cast ballots. Following the eight-year mandate of centre-left SMER-SD (S&D), under Prime Ministers Robert Fico and Peter Pellegrini, in coalition with right-wing and far-right parties, there will be a change of government in Bratislava.

The most stunning outcome of the election is that nearly 30% of cast votes went to parties and coalitions which failed to pass the threshold of 5% for parties and 7% for coalitions, meaning that those who made it to the Parliament benefited from substantial redistribution of seats.

The second, arguably more alarming outcome of the election, is that a quarter of all the votes went to far-right, nationalist and right-wing populist parties.

The results show the coalition led by OLANO as the clear winner of the election with a quarter of the votes and 53 out of 150 seats in the Parliament. The party’s leader, Igor Matovič, is expected to become the next Prime Minister, possibly in a minority government with the support of ECR member SaS (Freedom and Solidarity), and For the People party, of the former President Andrej Kiska.

This consolidates the EPP’s stronghold in Central Europe once again. OLANO is presumed to join the EPP party, meaning that its only MEP, Peter Pollák, could see a much more prominent role in the rest of the mandate.

Following the defeat of the EPP-led government in Ireland, which is likely to be replaced by an ALDE/RE government, and the EPP-ALDE coalition agreed in Slovenia after the resignation of their liberal (LMS, RE) Prime Minister Marijan Sarec, the situation in the European Council will likely be: EPP 11 [DE, RO, GR, AT, HU, SK, HR, BG, CY, SI, LV], ALDE/RE 7 [FR, NL, BE, LU, CZ, IE, EE] PES/S&D 6 [ES, PT, MT, SE, FI, DK], ECR 1 [PL] with 2 independents [IT, LT].

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NOVE Analysis: the post-Brexit European Parliament

Three and a half years after the Brexit referendum, the United Kingdom officially left the EU on 31 January at midnight. The occasion was unceremonious and sombre in the Brussels institutions [bar the Brexit party’s flag-waving] and unsurprisingly polarising across the Channel, with a tartan of mourning wakes and celebrations. As a consequence, the face of our continent and our Union have been profoundly changed. And with that, so were the institutions – none more than the European Parliament.

The note describes the post-Brexit numerical changes to delegations and committees and analyses the impact on internal dynamics in the EP’s political groups, as well as the overall political balance in the Parliament. Finally, it presents the new 27 MEPs by political group.

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Presenting: the Commissioners-Designate

On 10 September 2019, European Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen presented her team of 27 Commissioners and their portfolios for the 2019 – 2024 mandate.

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The European Parliament 2019 – 2024: Key Committee Composition

This note looks at the composition of major Committees in the European Parliament, and what the power dynamics will be.

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