Wondering what the European Union does for you? Asking yourself if it’s worth it to go and vote on the 26th of May?  Oana Tache is bringing you the TOP 10 regulations that shaped the face of Europe between 2014-2019.

01 – Copyright rules for the digital age

In March 2019, the European Parliament approved new copyright rules to empower creatives and news publishers to negotiate with internet giants, whilst also safeguarding the freedom of expression of ordinary internet users across the EU.

The proposed directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market seeks to ensure that creatives (musicians or actors, for exampel), news publishers, and journalists benefit from the online world as they do from the offline world.

02 – Consumer rights in the digital age

Online shopping doesn’t stop at the border: in 2017 one third of online shoppers bought from a retailer in another EU country. However, shoppers came up against various barriers, so called “GEO-blocking”, that prevented them from getting what they want.  As from December 2018, there is good news for online shoppers, as a new EU regulation entered into force that puts an end to GEO-blocking, breaking down borders for the millions of Europeans who shop online on a daily basis.

The new General Data Protection Rules (GDPR) give consumers and citizens more power over their digital presence, defending the right to obtain information about how their data is used and to delete content they no longer want visible online. The new rules apply to all companies operating in the EU, even if they are based outside the EU.

03 – Safe products for consumers

In February 2019, EU legislators agreed on EU legislation that ensures that  only safe products are sold to consumers, both in-store and online, by coordinating market surveillance and improve EU-wide enforcement of checks, inspections, and rules.

New legislation on digital content supply are the first rules to ever protect buyers faced with faulty digital content or services. If a problem cannot be fixed, the consumer is guaranteed a reduced price or end the contract and be refunded.

04 – Europe without borders

As of 15 June 2017, roaming fees were abolished across the EU. This means that you can enjoy calls, SMS, and data when you’re on holiday in the EU, all for the same price that you pay at home.

In February 2019 the European Parliament agreed to scrap excessive fees on EU cross-border payments with new rules to protect consumers. The new rules will also protect consumers against arbitrary charges for currency conversions.

05 – Fighting climate change

Fighting climate change is not only one of the most important challenges of our times, but also an opportunity to build a more sustainable and competitive economy and more stable societies. The European Union is the third biggest greenhouse gases emitter in the world after China and the US. The energy sector was responsible for 78% of EU greenhouse gas emissions in 2015.

The European Parliament agreed to the ratification by the European Union of the Paris Agreement. The United Nations Agreement on Climate Change in a historic vote in October 2016, the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal, entered into force in November 2016. Under the Paris Agreement of 2015, the European Union is committed to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.

Cars and vans produce about 15% of the EU’s CO2 emissions, which contribute to climate change. Transport is the only sector in which greenhouse gas emissions are still higher than they were in 1990. The EU aims to reduce CO2 emissions from transport to 60% of the pre-1990 rate by 2050. In March 2019 Parliament and Council agreed on new targets to reduce CO2 emissions at 37.5% CO2 reduction target for new cars and 31% for new vans by 2030.

06 – Protecting our environment and oceans

Studies show that more than 80% of marine litter is plastics. Due to its slow rate of decomposition, plastic accumulates in seas, oceans and on beaches in the EU and worldwide. Plastic residue is found in marine species – such as sea turtles, seals, whales and birds, but also in fish and shellfish, and therefore in the human food chain. In March 2019, Parliament approved a new law banning  single-use plastic items such as plates, cutlery, straws and cotton buds sticks by 2021. The new rules also set collection targets for plastic bottles and a more

stringent application of the “polluter pays” principle. The products covered by this new law constitute 70% of all marine litter items.

07 – Work-life balance

It will now be easier for parents in the EU to reconcile professional and private life.  The new directive sets minimum requirements for member states and introduces the right to ten working days paternity leave around the time of birth or adoption, paid at least to the level of

sick pay, and two months of non-transferable paid parental leave. The agreement also establishes five days of annual carers’ leave and the

possibility to request flexible working patterns. To cut emissions from power stations and industry, the EU has put into place the first major carbon market with the Emissions Trading System (ETS). For the other sectors, reductions will be achieved through agreed national emissions targets, which are calculated, based on countries’ gross domestic product per capita. The EU also fights climate change

with a new clean energy policy. The focus is on increasing the share of renewable energy produced and creating the possibility for people to produce their own green energy In addition the EU wants to improve the energy efficiency of buildings and household appliances.

08 – Plastic Bags Directive

Under new EU legislation adopted in 2015, national governments must ensure that by the end of 2019 no more than 90 lightweight bags are consumed annually per person. By the end of 2025, that number should drop to 40 bags each. To reach these targets, they can apply different measures. The Directive has brought about a rapid shift in consumer behaviour, in 2018 72% of Europeans said they have cut down on their use of plastic bags (Eurobarometer).

09 – Protection against terrorism and serious crimes

The directive on Passenger Name Records (PNR) obliges airlines to provide passenger data held by national authorities for all flights from third countries to the EU and vice versa. Member states can also have the option of extending the rules to “intra-EU” flights.PNR data is used for the prevention, detection and investigation of terrorist offences, a decisive measure after the attacks in Brussels and Paris.

10 – Immigration and asylum

Parliament adopted in November 2017 its mandate on the reform of the Dublin Regulation, which determines the member state responsible for dealing with an asylum application, and is the centerpiece of a comprehensive reform of the EU asylum policy, but negotiations on the final form of the text can only begin once member states agree on their position. MEPs have repeatedly called on the Council to show real political will to move ahead with the reforms and put an end to people dying in the Mediterranean while trying to reach Europe. Parliament and member states have reached preliminary deals on several other files of the asylum package, such as the recast Reception Conditions Directive and the new Qualification Regulation and the new EU Asylum Agency, but those may only be confirmed if there is an agreement on the key Dublin Regulation. Significant progress has also been made during talks on a strengthened Eurodac system and a new EU Framework for resettlement.

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